One of my daily rituals is to drink tea. Tea brewed from the camellia sinesis plant, better known as green, black, oolong, white or puerh teas, is filled with antioxidants and other important nutrients. Studies have shown that tea taken regularly can reduce your risk of heart disease and some cancers. The antioxidants help reduce LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) and increase HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol). Plus, tea helps calm and focus the mind.
I’m not a professional athlete, so my days are full with the rest of my life, work, family, and the like. Sometimes, just fitting in a good workout is a challenge let alone finding time to sit and strategize over how I can take my taekwondo to the next level. Many top athletes and coaches say that to really improve your athletic performance, it’s essential to spend time each day visualizing that improvement. I know they’re a hundred percent right, but without tea, I would find it hard to follow their advice.
Whether it’s green, black, oolong, white, or puerh, tea offers a few serene moments for contemplation. Even when life gets in the way of my regular workout, I practice my taekwondo while I sip tea.
Yesterday morning, For instance, I whisked a cup of matcha green tea. In the peace of the tea, I found myself gliding through my taekwondo form in my mind. I could almost feel the way my body would move, the attitude I would project, the snap of my uniform as I performed perfect kicks and punches. It was five minutes of absolute harmony and peace amidst a crazy day of activity. It was a real workout with the added bonus of Green Tea’s antioxidants and nutrients feeding my body, too.
To get that perfectly brewed cup of tea…you know, the one that isn’t so bitter you need half a cup of milk and three lumps of sugar to choke it down… you need to pay attention to the temperature of your water.
Green teas are best brewed at slightly lower temperatures, around 170 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit or 76 to 82 degrees Celsius. Blacks and oolongs can take a higher heat, just under the 200 degrees Fahrenheit or 93 degrees Celsius mark, before their bitter qualities come out. Whites have the lowest tolerance for heat, around 150 degrees Fahrenheit or 65 degrees Celsius, while puerhs can easily take a full, rolling boil.
I used to take the time to watch my kettle, listening for the sound of each temperature, peering in to see if the bubbles looked like fish eyes or strings of pearls or old man bubbles. Now, I use a kettle that lets me set the temperature. Life’s gotten busier and more demanding. Either I take my peace and quiet moment watching the bubbles, or I take it contemplating taekwondo through the first few sips. As an athlete dedicated to her sport, I choose the fancy kettle and the serene taekwondo practice in my tea-fueled fantasy dogen.
However, you take your tea, enjoy the nutrients and the mental workout it offers.
Try brewing a new kind of tea at the optimum temperature for its type. As you drink it, imagine yourself winning your next competition.
Brew a pot of puerh tea in the morning. Take your first cup diluted with cool water straight away, visualizing yourself doing your favorite sport of course. Later in the day, take half a cup of boiling water with half a cup of the now quite strong brew leftover from the morning. Visualize again, of course. Continue this practice throughout your day.