Brewing the Perfect Cup of Tea

This week I am writing about brewing tea. Brewing tea is a highly personal thing. Some like their tea hot, some like it iced, some like it stronger than others. Some prefer it with milk, and others with both milk and sugar. This week I’m going to give you some tips to help you brew  your perfect cup of tea.


  • Storage – Loose tea tends to pick up the odors of the kitchen so it is best to keep it in a tin or tea canister. Bagged tea us usually in individual wrappers so it is already protected.
  • Loose or bagged – This is a matter of preference. Some folks don’t like fussing with an infuser and having to measure the tea out and find bags more convenient.
  • Tea bags – They come in bleached and unbleached bags. Folks that are health conscious will often prefer the unbleached bags.
  • Quality of tea – The larger the particles of the tea the better. Some of the really inexpensive teas are merely the dust from the tearoom floor. Broken leaf or whole leaf are generally better. Also the more expensive teas are usually a better quality. A lot of it depends on which country or estate the tea comes from, the climate, soil conditions, amount of sun or water the plant is exposed to, and the amount of shade or sun the plant gets. There is also the question of pesticides and organic might be preferable to the regular teas.
  • How much tea to use – Bagged tea is already measured and one usually uses one one bag per cup, though with some teas you can get a second cup from one bag. For loose tea the rule of thumb is 1 teaspoon of loose tea for each person plus one teaspoon for the pot. This can vary with how strong you want your tea. If you want a stronger tea add more loose tea. It is supposed to be better than steeping it longer.
  • Water – Tea likes oxygen so fresh cold water is best. Purified water is generally preferable to tap water, if you have it available. The better the quality of your water, the better your cup of tea.
  • Temperature – The various different kinds of teas require different temperatures. Water for black tea should be about 208 degrees while green and white teas are better at 175 degrees. You may want to make your tea water a little hotter or colder depending on your preference. Personally for some green and white teas I prefer 165 degrees. A programmable electric tea kettle is very handy for this. You simply put in the temperature you want and the kettle brews it to that temperature.
  • Steeping time – There are charts available online that list the different teas and the temperature and steeping times required. Again this can be a matter of preference. A general rule of thumb is 2-3 minutes for black tea and herbal teas, 4-5 minutes for green and white teas.
  • Pouring the tea – It is a good idea to put some of the boiling water in the pot and swirl it around to warm the pot first then put in  the tea and the water.
  • Cream and sugar – This is also a matter of preference. Some prefer their tea straight, others prefer sugar and others prefer both cream and sugar. Generally green tea is taken without anything in it, though I have been known to use a little sweetener in mine. Herbal teas are usually taken without anything added to them.
  • Additional thoughts –  There are lots of things that can be added to tea to flavor it up; honey, agave, cinnamon, lemon. Experiment and find your preference. There are also many tea blends available and I get great pleasure trying out different kinds and finding the ones I enjoy the most.

I hope you find these ideas and suggestions helpful. For more information about tea go to my website at  

Valerie Lull
Ten Healthy Teas


Green Tea and Oral Health

green tea 2 cups and pot


Valerie Lull

When I was researching the benefits of green tea I was surprised to find it was good for oral health. I knew about heart, and brain health, but oral health was a new idea to me.

Green tea contains flavonoids, and catechins. These have antioxidant properties. One study suggests that green tea promotes oral health because it reduces inflammation, bone resorption and limits the growth of some kinds of bacteria. It seems that green tea fights the bad plaque forming bacteria, and encourages the good oral bacteria. This means less plaque and fewer cavities.

Green tea helps oral health several ways. It cleanses bacteria around the gum line, it promotes better breath, and one study at the University of Texas showed that it slowed the progression of oral cancer.

Another study was done by Dr. Yoshihiro Shimazaki of Kyusu University in Fukuoka, Japan. They studied men who had periodontal disease. They examined 3 indicators; pocket depth, clinical attachment loss of gum tissue and bleeding. They discovered that for every one cup of green tea that the men consumed per day there was a decrease in the indicators that were examined. The researchers think it was because of the catechin content in the tea.

Green tea has properties that are good for fighting inflammation that is a part of gum disease. Be sure to check with your health care provider before using green tea for medicinal purposes.

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Green Tea and Your Brain

Green Tea - 2 cups



Valerie Lull

Green tea is a beverage from ancient times that has had an impact on human health and healing. Folklore is full of anecdotes and remedies. In modern times the use of green tea for brain health has become more researched. Alzheimer’s Disease seems to be happening these days in record numbers. Is there anything that will help this disease?

Some fascinating research has been done on green tea and Alzheimer’s. A researcher from McMaster University in Canada, named Melacini, thinks that the best way to avoid Alzheimer’s is to prevent it in the first place. He feels green tea used as much as   15 -25 years before the onset of Alzheimer’s is one way to prevent it.  (1)

The key substance in green tea that seems to be working, are the catechins. We’ve talked about catechins in the last two blogs. Another study from 2002 in the Journal of Biological Chemistry indicates that green tea can do more than prevent dementia, but helps brain function, memory and decreases damage done by metal toxicity. (2)

I feel that while drinking green tea is definitely an asset to one’s brain, other good health practices should be used along with green tea. There seems to be a synergy between multiple approaches as opposed to doing just one thing. These things include nutritious diet, exercise, and social and spiritual aspects of life.

Remember, if you want to use green tea for medicinal purposes be sure to discuss it with your health care provider.

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(1) Medical News Today, October 13, 2017

(2) Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2002, Sept.20:277(38):34933-40

Green Tea and Heart Disease

Green-Tea in Teapot


Valerie Lull

Last week we discussed green tea and catechins. This week we will look a little more closely at green tea and how it may help heart disease.

According to the folks at Harvard University, maintaining heart health may be as simple as sipping a cup of green tea. They go on to say that it helps lower cholesterol, and trigliceride levels. (1)

There are studies that show that some of the risk factors for heart disease can be improved with the use of green tea. Green tea increases antioxidants in the blood which prevents LDL particles (bad cholesterol)from oxidizing and becoming bad cholesterol. (2) Green tea also can improve blood flow, help with high blood pressure, and heart failure. The key ingredient in green tea that is thought to give it these benefits is its catechin content.(3)

It might be good to remember that even though green tea can do many good things, just drinking green tea may not be enough. Lifestyle behaviors are important too; like quitting smoking, watching what you eat and getting enough exercise. As always it may be prudent to get your health care providers input on drinking this for heart problems.

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Green Tea and Catechins

weight_loss tea


Valerie Lull

January is National Hot Tea month. My blog posts for January will be about tea. There’s nothing like a cup of hot steaming tea on a cold winter day. It creates a nice warm feeling inside and you get a wealth of health benefits. Both green tea and herbal teas are good for the body and good for the soul.

Green tea has been extensively researched and most authorities recognize it as being a healthful drink for the prevention of disease and  anti-aging. Have you ever wondered what is in green tea that makes it so good?

Green tea contains polyphenols. There are several kinds of polyphenols that include flavonoids and catechins. One catechin that is very powerful is epigallocatechin-3-gallate. Since it is such a long difficult name to remember people usually shorten it to EGCG.

Catechins are antioxidants.(1)  Antioxidants reduce the formation of free radicals. Free radicals cause damage in the cell which contributes to disease and aging. The catechins in green tea have medicinal properties that are helpful to many body systems. Here is a partial list:

  • Heart health (2)
  • Reduces cellular damage from exercise and delays mental fatigue
  • Protects from Alzheimer’s and dementia (3)
  • Helps keep skin healthy
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Helpful with weight loss (4)
  • Helps improve sports performance (5)

When preparing green tea let it steep 3-5 minutes to extract the catechins from it. Green tea comes in bags, as loose tea, and as an extract. The extract can be in the form of pills or liquid. Organic loose tea is your best bet. Tea bags are often manufactured with chemicals that you don’t get with loose tea. Organic is best as conventional tea plants may be sprayed with pesticides and tend to pick up fluoride and lead in the soil. Going organic minimizes this.

The next time you sit down with a cup of tea, make it green tea. Your body will thank you.

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(1) Nutrition research, 2011 Nov;31(11)813-821

(2) Clinical Nutrition, June 2016, Vol. 35, Issue 3, Pages 592-599

(3) British Journal of Nutrition, 2004 Sep.94(3) 4320436


(5 )


Herbs for Blood Sugar Control


There is currently an epidemic of people who have diabetes, even more with high blood sugar who have not been diagnosed as diabetic yet. Indeed, diabetes has reached epic proportions. It is much better to catch the problem in the early stages than to develop diabetes and have to take drugs. There are some herbs that can help with blood sugar control, as well as watching one’s diet and getting adequate exercise, that can head off diabetes. Here are some suggestions.

Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum}

Cinnamon is a holiday spice. It has been used since ancient times for medicine. Cinnamon has been studied for its effects on blood sugar. Some studies show that cinnamon can lower blood sugar. Cinnamon is loaded with antioxidants and this may help fight the free radicals generated by diabetes. One way to take cinnamon is as a tea. It can be obtained in tea bag form or you can use a cinnamon stick in hot water. Cinnamon is also available in capsule form.

Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum)

Fenugreek originated in southern Asia. It  has been used for centuries as a medicine and as a spice. It works by improving the way the body uses sugar and increases the release of insulin. The seeds also contain fiber which slows digestion and the absorption of carbohydrates. Fenugreek is available as a seed, a tea or powdered.

Cumin (Cuminum cyminum)

Cumin belongs to the parsley family and has been used as medicine since antiquity.  It is used extensively in cooking around the Mediterranean. Researchers hypothesize that therapeutic doses affect blood sugar levels.

Turmeric (Curcuma longa)

Turmeric and curcumin, a constituent in turmeric, suppresses inflammation. It is thought that chronic inflammation may lead to many chronic diseases like diabetes. Scientists think that by relieving the inflammation curcumin may slow down the damaging effects of diabetes. Turmeric can be taken as a tea or capsule, and its derivative, curcumin is available as a supplement.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Dandelions are a very healthful herb that is readily available. Some preliminary animal studies show that dandelion may help to normalize blood sugar. Not all the studies are promising and more research is called for. Dandelion can be taken in capsules, and as a tea or infusion. The roots can be made into a substitute for coffee.

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Remarkable Research on Cinnamon

This article was first published on the blog of The American College of Healthcare Sciences.




Valerie B. Lull

Sprinkled on oatmeal, steamed rice, yogurt, or your morning latte, cinnamon makes a fabulous breakfast topping. Many of us have childhood memories of grandma baking apples with cinnamon and brown sugar or cinnamon rolls with raisins. It’s a staple spice of the fall season!


Aside from its culinary flair, research shows that cinnamon Cinnamomum zeylanicum (Blume) has therapeutic properties. Let’s explore the research!

Does Cinnamon Have Antifungal Properties?

An interesting 2012 study investigated cinnamon oil and patchouli Pogostemon cablin (Benth.) oil and their effects on three strains of candida in the intestines: Candida albicans, Candida tropicalis, and Candida krusei.


Sixty patients with intestinal infections caused by candida were given a capsule that contained cinnamon and patchouli oil. Among the subjects studied, there was a 71.67% rate of cure (meaning the fungus was eliminated). There was a 28.33% rate of reduction of the fungus, meaning the fungus was greatly reduced but not eliminated. The researchers concluded that the oils had strong anti-fungal properties against various species of candida.[1]


Could Cinnamon Support Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s Patients?

Like many people, I’ve lost loved ones to Alzheimer’s disease. I know how awful it can be for people you love to forget who you are. Any positive research, even a little, is welcomed news.


However, finding natural ways to support these patients is often difficult. In a study published in the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology (2014), researchers found that cinnamon can reverse some of the anatomical and cellular changes that are in the brains of mice with Parkinson’s disease. The feeding of ground cinnamon to the mice improved their motor functions. This could potentially be a wonderful advance in support these patients, and further research is needed.[2]


An interesting study was done in 2009 using cinnamon extract. The extract was used in an in vitro study of tau aggregation (clumps of protein) that is associated with Alzheimer’s. The results of the study showed that cinnamon extract inhibited the activity of the tau filaments (tangles of a kind of protein found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients) that are characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers concluded that compounds in cinnamon could be beneficial to people with Alzheimer’s, though more research is needed to discover the mechanisms through which it works.[3]


Can Cinnamon Support Osteoporosis Patients?

A study was done of the aldehydic content of cinnamon bark extract. Results of the study showed that cinnamaldehyde and 2-methoxycinnamaldehyde were active substances that reduced osteoclast-like formation. The study showed that the breakdown of bone was slowed down.(4) These results open up possibilities of ways to support these patients and keep bones healthy before its onset.


Can Cinnamon Be a Food Preservative?

Cinnamon has been used as a preservative for centuries. From cosmetics to meat, it’s an effective natural alternative (plus, we already know it tastes great!). Cinnamomum zeylanicum was one of several extracts studied for antimicrobial activity. The extracts were tested against Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Candida albicans. The results showed that the extracts and essential oils could replace the use of methylparaben and preserve the microbiological purity of cosmetics. (5)


Can Cinnamon Promote a Healthy Metabolism?

We often associate cinnamon with calorie-filled cakes and desserts, but modern folklore tells us that honey and cinnamon can be used in the daily diet to invigorate the metabolism and promote a healthy weight. Of course, more research is needed to determine these therapeutic properties. A popular way of taking honey and cinnamon is in a tea taken twice a day. The tea is taken in the morning on an empty stomach and in the evening just before bed. (6)


Remember, many herbs don’t mix well with medications. Be sure to discuss any herbal preparation you want to take with your healthcare provider.


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(1) Wang, G, Deng, J., Ma, Y., Shi, M., & Li, B. (2012). Mechanisms, clinically curative effects and antifungal activities of cinnamon oil and pogostemon oil complex against three species of candida, Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 32 (1), 19-24.


(2) Rush University Medical Center (2014). Cinnamon May Help Halt Parkinson’s Disease Progression, Study Results Published in the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology. Retrieved from:


(3) Peterson, DW., George, RC., Scaramozzino, F., LaPointe, NE., Anderson, RA., Graves, DJ., & Lew, J. (2009). Cinnamon extract inhibits tau aggregation associated with Alzheimer’s disease in vitro, Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 17(3) 585-97. Doi 10.3233/JAD 2009-1083 Retrieved from:


(4) Tsuji-Naiato, K. (2008). Cinnamon Inhibits Osteoclasts in Vitro. Bioorg. Med. Chem PMID: 18823786 Retrieved from:


(5) Herman, A., Herman, AP., Domagalska, BW., & Miynarczyk, A. (2013). Essential Oils and Herbal Extracts as Antimicrobial Agents in Cosmetic Emulsion, Indian Journal of Microbiology 53(2): 232-237 doi: 10.1007/s120801-0329-0 Retrieved from:


(6) Morris, SY. (2015). “Can You Really Use Honey and Cinnamon for Weight Loss?” Healthline. Retrieved from:


This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent disease. This article has not been reviewed by the FDA. Always consult with your primary care physician or naturopathic doctor before making any significant changes to your health and wellness routine.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I am a graduate of American College of Healthcare Sciences, the Institution that publishes this blog. However, all opinions are my own. This blog may contain affiliate links. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”