Q: I’ve been drinking different types of herbal teas (mostly the commercial kind made with dried fruit peel and blossoms) and would like to start drinking green tea. However, I’m trying to eliminate caffeine from my diet and am concerned about the caffeine levels in green tea. I’ll stay away from the oolong and black teas and go with the decaf. Now, you mentioned 2 types of decaf processes — bicarbonate and carbon dioxide. You said that the bicarbonate might alter the medicinal properties of green tea, so I’ll nix that. Which leaves me with carbon dioxide decaffeinated tea. Except that I’m concerned about the carbonic acid you mentioned, since I don’t want the tea to aggravate any acids in my stomach.
I’d like to start reaping the benefits of drinking green tea, so what’s a good tea to go with? The shou mei tea you mentioned, perhaps?
By the way, I really enjoy reading your posts and I think it’s really wonderful the way you respond to all different types of health concerns here on this board (mine included; thanks again). I’d like to start educating myself on herbal healing and was wondering if you could recommend one good comprehensive, user-friendly guide to start with? Thanks.
A: Carbon dioxide removal of caffeine is the most common method of removal, but you do not have to worry about the carbonic acid. It is used to precipitate the caffeine, and is not present in the final product. Though the caffeine levels are very minimal anyway.
Shou mei is the only green tea I have found so far that I can stand the taste of. But I do not like it either without the honeysuckle flowers and stevia. Otherwise it is a little strong for my taste. Shou mei and honeysuckle flowers can be a little hard to find. There is a wholesaler called Mayflower who sells both. I had a health food store in Santa Cruz, California order them for me while I was up there. I have not seen them sold anywhere else.
All of the green teas are going to give you the benefits, the difference is mainly flavor. I have a lot of Young Hysson tea which I do not like the flavor of, so I ground it up and capsule it. Recently I found a wholesale source for powdered green tea, so that makes it easier.
A good herbal book for beginners is The Little Herb Encyclopedia by Jack Ritchason. It is detailed about herb uses, but still written in a way that is easy for beginners to understand.
A final note about your comment aabout your stomach acid. Hyperchlorhydria (excessive stomach acid) is an extremely rare condition, which has to be diagnosed by putting an acid meter down in to the stomach. It is not diagnosed by the symptom of heartburn. We have been basically mislead in to believing that it is a common problem to boost sales of antacids and acid blockers. Stomach acid levels naturally decline with age.
This is why people tend to develop nutrient deficiencies as they grow older. Minerals and vitamins like B12 require plenty of stomach acid to be absorbed. Furthermore the most common cause of heartburn is a lack of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, not too much. A lack of hydrochloric acid can allow yeast to proliferate in the stomach where ingested sugars will ferment. The lack of acid can also inhibit digestion of foods. As the foods sit and basically rot, they also generate gas. This gas has to go somewhere, and it will often go up the espophagus carrying traces of acid with it causing heart burn. In people with excessive stomach acid, if this acid goes up the esophagus it will cause acid burns and scarring in the esophagus, a dangerous problem.
The use of antacids and acid blockers make the condition worse and lead to further nutrient deficiencies. For instance we hear the commercials say Tums has calcium. Big deal! You cannot absorb most of it. Once the traces of acid in the stomach are neutrilized, the remaining calcium will not have any acid to react with and therefore will not be absorbed. Neither will other minerals, and some vitamins. Some antacids also contain mint oils for flavor. Though these can relax the sphincter muscle at the top of the stomach increasing the risk of esophageal reflux.
It may sound strange, but the best way to generally treat heartburn is by raising your stomach acid levels for your food digests instead of ferments, and you can control stomach yeast this way. I like to chew on a few juniper berries when I get heartburn to kick up my stomach acid levels. They clear it up right away. In addition they strengthen the nervous system, improve the vision by strenghtening the optic nerve, and kill yeast and bacteria in the stomach. Though they should not be used by those with kidney problems and not used daily for more than 4 days without a break to prevent kidney irritation. Also, never pick your own unless you know for sure what you are picking.
Savin junipers are highly poisonous due to their content of podophyllumtoxin, also found in mandrake. Digestive bitters will also work to raise stomach acid levels. Do not use the capsules, bitters must come in to contact with the bitter receptors of the tongue to work.
If you bloat up with gas a lot I would also try agave leaf in conjunction with the juniper berries.