Spring Cleaning in a Cup

By Shawndra Miller / Photography By Dan Cooper | March 15, 2012
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Kyoto Garden Tea
Kyoto Garden Tea

There comes a day every April when we open the windows and start to shake off the winter's lethargy. Somehow, spring cleaning is good for the soul.

It's also good for the body, as the lighter weather prompts an urge for internal spring cleaning – otherwise known as a cleanse. Cleansing can take many forms, from mild to draconian. But a simple cup of tea can be a gentle way to ease into cleansing or to support a new health regimen. One local tea purveyor is passionate about the beverage's healing properties and invigorating flavors. Peace Leaf Tea's Christi Smallidge, who crafts her own blends from sustainable and organic sources, says whole-leaf green, white and red teas fill your cup with sheer unadulterated goodness, no matter what your health goals. "There's a wellness feeling that goes with drinking them," she says.

Peace Leaf is sold at Indy Winter Farmers' Market (and other markets in the summer) and through Green B.E.A.N. Delivery. For a full list of locations or to buy online, visit peaceleaf.biz.

A TRIO OF TEAS

Jumpstart a spring cleanse with these custom blend green, white and red teas from Peace Leaf Tea. These tasting and cleansing notes will point you in the right direction.

The Green: Kyoto Garden

Delicate cherry overlays the slight astringency of jasmine, a taste reminiscent of leisurely dinners eaten with chopsticks.

How it "cleans": Antioxidants mop up the free radicals that lead to cellular damage. Smallidge says that the caffeine in green tea boosts your metabolism, helping you shed toxins while avoiding the adrenal-depleting effects of coffee. Green tea may help prevent hardening of the arteries and other health woes. Some say it boosts liver function and protects against the growth of cancer cells.

The White: Pomegranate Vanilla

A pearlike tang is softened by mellow Madagascar vanilla that lingers on the tongue. This is the most refreshing of Smallidge's teas to drink iced.

How it "cleans": White tea is minimally processed, according to Smallidge, preserving even more antioxidants than green, so it can cause even more free radicals to bite the dust. Combine that with a minimal amount of caffeine and you have a potent addition to your health arsenal.

The Red: Longevity

Ginger lends a bright spiciness to rich, full-bodied rooibos.

How it "cleans": Strictly speaking not a tea but an herbal tisane, rooibos is getting a reputation for aiding acne sufferers because it contains alpha-linoleic acid, says Smallidge. The health benefits of rooibos are augmented in Longevity by the inclusion of "green" rooibos, an unfermented version of the herb with even higher antioxidant levels than fermented rooibos. Ginger, a vasodilator, makes this a great tonic for the circulatory system. This blend is also perfect for nipping spring colds in the bud. "Our most medicinal tea," Smallidge says.


Get the Most Out of Your Cleansing Cup

Local tea experts share their best tea tips.

1. Make a fresh start: Peace Leaf Tea's Smallidge advises using the freshest tea possible. "If it's been sitting on a warehouse shelf for who knows how long, the amount of antioxidants you're going to get will be a lot less."

2. Taste the whole leaf: Whole-leaf teas are tops when it comes to flavor and nutrient profile. Humboldt County Tea Company's Dan Minear notes, "You get a stronger, more concentrated dose of polyphenols, flavonoids and chlorophyll when using the wholeleaf product." Polyphenols and flavonoids have antioxidant properties.

3. Test the water: "You can ruin good tea with poor-quality water," says Lalith Guy Paranavitana of Columbus's Empire Tea Services, a tea importer marketing to tea shops nationwide. He advises using a reverse osmosis filter or bottled spring water. Hard water is the enemy of good tea, so invest in a water softener.

4. Turn down the heat: Only black and herbal teas do well with boiling water; white and green tea leaves are easily scorched and should be steeped at 170°, according to Irvington Iris Tea Room's Miranda Marsico. "A lot of people say they don't like green tea because it's bitter, but that's because it's scorched," she says.

5. Put a lid on it: Smallidge notes, "Ideally you want to cover [your cup] when steeping. The essential oils are where the polyphenols are, and they evaporate quickly otherwise."


Tea time

Fill your cup with this sampling of local tea retailers and tea rooms.

Peace Leaf Teas
Sip at Mo'Joe Coffeehouse, buy at Indy Winter Farmers' Market and elsewhere. peaceleaf.biz

Humboldt County Tea Company
Order a cup at Cornerstone Coffee House, purchase online. www.humboldtcountytea.com

Irvington Iris Tea Room
A spot for afternoon tea, as well as breakfast and lunch. 130 S. Audubon Rd., Indianapolis; 317-356-4400; www.BloomzByMiranda.com

Article from Edible Indy at http://edibleindy.ediblecommunities.com/drink/spring-cleaning-cup
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