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Dr. MAO’s WELLNESS CENTRAL: Relax and Refresh with Tea

Tea drinking as a ritual originated in China as a contemplative and meditative activity. It has traditionally been associated with promoting a tranquil and yet awakened state of being. These qualities seem contradictory but those who have experienced the tea ritual describe it as feeling relaxed and refreshed. This state of being contrasts with the stressful, anxiety-provoking coffee-gulping culture of America where it is anything but tranquil.

Delicious, zero-calorie, and brimming with antioxidants, tea is quickly becoming the most commonly consumed beverage worldwide, after water. Even in the U.S., its popularity is rapidly growing. And why not? With the health benefits you stand to gain, you, too, will want to drink up.

Steeped in Health Benefits

It is no wonder that tea is the beverage most commonly enjoyed by centenarians around the world. Tea is full of powerful antioxidants that improve concentration, gently boost energy, and make people happier. The free radical-inhibiting property of tea is more potent than that of vitamin E, and tea is a proven preventive and treatment for atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). The polyphenols in tea, especially the catechins, are powerful antioxidants that help ward off diabetes and cancer.

Improve Mood and Concentration

One of the most profound benefits of tea is that it elevates mood and increases focus and concentration. Much research has centered on the amino acid L-Theanine, which is found in abundance in tea leaves. L-Theanine induces the production of alpha brain waves, creating a state of deep relaxation and mental alertness similar to what is achieved through meditation. Additionally, it is involved in the formation of gamma amino butyric acid or GABA. GABA directly affects the levels of neurochemicals dopamine and serotonin, contributing to the relaxation effect.

To get the most health from your tea, brew it fresh from tea bags or loose leaves and herbs, as instant and bottled teas contain less active compounds. Let the tea steep for three to five minutes to extract the most beneficial compounds. Drink to your health!

Replace the Morning Coffee For many people the first thing they reach for in the morning is coffee. Although it may initially give you a jolt, coffee actually depletes your vital essence, “borrowing” energy that you didn’t have in the first place. Caffeine acts as a central nervous system stimulant. It causes you to experience stress, anxiety, a racing mind, and even insomnia, working against your attempts to relax the body and calm the mind. A healthier alternative to coffee is tea. On average, a cup of black tea contains about one third of the caffeine you would get from the same cup of coffee. Green tea contains about one sixth of that amount.

Of course, caffeine content will vary depending on the particular tea and the brewing time. One way to naturally decaffeinate your tea is to steep for 45 seconds, pour out the liquid but keep the tea leaves, then add fresh boiling water and let it steep for 3-5 minutes or longer to allow the beneficial polyphenols to be extracted from the tea.

Slim Down with Tea

As a weight loss tool, tea is a wonderfully cleansing way to flush the system, replace fluids – and pump the body full of powerful antioxidants at the same time. Aside from the health benefits, tea is a zero-calorie beverage, making it your best choice for weight loss. Pass on the diet soda, loaded with sugar and bone-weakening bubbles, and go for tea. It is best to drink tea unsweetened and without milk, which can minimize some of the health benefits. To sweeten the tea without the extra calories, forgo the sugar and try instead stevia products or a stick of cinnamon.

The Healthy Varieties of Herbal Teas

Aromatic and chock full of amazing health benefits, Chinese herbal teas are made from various leaves, roots, bark, or flowers. Here are just a few:

Chamomile: Settles the stomach and is calming and soothing for the nervous system

Lily: Nourishes the lungs and calms the spirit

Lotus: Cools the body from overheating and relaxes the mind

Ginger or galanga root: Soothes the digestive system and keeps your energy fired up

Peppermint: Increases healthy gastric secretions, relaxes the intestines and stomach

You can blend these herbs in any combination or drink by itself according to your taste and health preferences. Among my patients, an incredibly popular herbal tea is Emotional Tranquility Tea, which is specially formulated to clear the mind, calm nerves and balance emotions.

You can start today by giving yourself the gift of feeling relaxed and refreshed with the power of tea!

May you Live Long, Live Strong and Live Happy!

Dr. Mao Shing Ni, also known as Dr. Mao, is a bestselling author, doctor of Oriental Medicine and board certified anti-aging expert. He practices acupuncture, nutrition and Chinese medicine with his associates at the Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica, a Wellness Medicine group that won the “L.A.’s Best” Award. Tao of Wellness was founded by Dr. Mao and his brother, Dr. Daoshing Ni over 25 years ago. In addition, he is the cofounder and Chancellor of Yo San University in Venice/Marina del Rey. To subscribe to a free newsletter please visit To make an appointment for evaluation and treatment please call 310.917.2200 or you can email Dr. Mao at

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