The Origins of Integra Tea (Part 5) - A Tea Is Born!
A Tea is Born
I’ve owned a tea company for 9 years now. For all of those nine years I’ve only sold three teas, Gynostemma, Mulberry and Oolong. As a scientist, I wish I could say that I chose those scientifically after years of dedicated research But that’s not what happened.
I’d been introduced to gynostemma by a friend while on vacation in Thailand. After feeling the effects of gynostemma on my own body I decided to build a tea company to bring gynostemma into wider circulation in the USA.
Then I got worried that the market for gynostemma was too small for my business to be sustainable so I began talking to traditional healers in Thailand and practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine about what other teas and herbs from Thailand I could offer. I focused on Thailand purely out of convenience. My friend was there to manage things on that end and make sure we maintained the highest quality and the logistics from one country was easier than trying to manage a bunch of countries. Additionally, I focused on herbs and teas that had a wide range of benefits not a single benefit so my potential market would be larger. Lastly, I wanted only teas that taste good. It’s just a lot easier to get people to drink something if it tastes good. Based on those three criteria I added Mulberry Leaf and Oolong.
Over the years I’ve become an expert on the teas and herbal tisanes, particularly the ones I sell. Naturally, I’ve tried those three teas in every possible combination. My favorite combination was a blend of all three. I can feel the difference in my body when I drink that particular combination.
Once I had come up with my list of Physics based root causes, I back tested the teas I already sold against that list and I realized immediately I had a strong case for offering these three teas in combination.
Oxidation: Gynostemma increases your body’s own production of the most powerful of antioxidants, Super Oxide Dismutase. Mulberry leaf has been used for centuries to treat respiratory illness due to its high anti-oxidant levels. Oolong tea is also well known as rich in antioxidants. All three have been studied extensively for treatment of cancer.
Hysteresis: Gynostemma increases blood flow throughout the body. Increased blood flow is associated with a wide range of health benefits primarily related to enabling the body to bounce back from damage and stress. It important that the increased blood flow is accomplished while also lowering blood pressure by expanding blood vessels. Gynostemma is also rich in saponins which not only reduce cholesterol but also help flush toxins. Mulberry leaf tea is helpful in maintaining weight by preventing the production of the enzymes needed to process fats and sugars. Oolong helps the body reestablish healthy metabolism levels and acts as a natural appetite suppressant.
Entropy: Gynostemma is the world’s most powerful adaptogen. Adaptogens are herbs that help the body self-regulate. When the body gets out of balance adaptogens help reestablish homeostasis. As already mentioned, the saponins in gynostemma also help flush toxins from the system. Mulberry leaf is used in traditional Chinese medicine to help maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
But I also knew I had a problem. Gynostemma is a delicate vine. Fresh gynostemma like ours, brews fast. It only needs two or three minutes. Longer than that and it starts to taste bitter. Mulberry leaf on the other hand is a thick waxy leaf. It needs at least eight minutes to brew properly. An Oolong is somewhere in between. In order to allow the Mulberry to have any effect I needed to brew the blend at least 8 minutes, but when I did that, the blend got bitter. I tried dozens of different combinations and brewing methods.
Finally, I decided I needed to add something to change the flavor profile. But I also knew it had to be an herb that complemented the rest not just in flavor but also in function and in terms of Traditional Chinese medicine principles of harmony.
I experimented with a number of herbs. Then I remembered a tea I’d tried while on a trip to India. Its considered a sacred plant in India and you often find it growing next to altars. It is also renowned in Ayurvedic circles for its myriad health benefits which include treating colds and flu, cardio-vascular benefits, mental sharpness, kidney stones, stress and headaches. It is also another powerful adaptogenic.
The herb is called tulsi in India, holy basil in English and, to my surprise, it also grows naturally in Thailand where it is called kraphao. The taste of tulsi is a bit hard to describe, it’s a bit like culinary basil but also a bit like spearmint. When added to my blend it totally removed the bitterness.
Then I was off to see my TCM advisor, Madame Ma, to make sure I was not violating some TCM principle. She was not familiar with tulsi because is not part of the TCM pharmacopeia. But after a couple of weeks study she gave me the ok. And a new Health tonic tea was born.
What’s In a Name
Those of you who follow me either through newsletters, my blog, Facebook or Twitter, know the rest of the story. Last January I held a contest to name the new tea blend. You all responded far above my expectations. I received over 8000 suggestions. I finally settled on a name. Now after almost 4 months of dealing with quality and production issues new to me because I’ve never offered a blend before, I’m proud to introduce; Integra Tea a health tonic tea blend of organic Gynostemma, Mulberry Leaf, Oolong and Tulsi.
I hope you enjoy it.