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Archives for the Month of August, 2008

Raise a Cup or Seven to Green Tea, Health, and Hope

It is a certain thing that everyone knows about Jerry’s Kids. After all, Mr. Lewis has devoted himself to a lifetime of raising the public’s awareness of Muscular Dystrophy; offering information and support through the auspices of MDA, to the families who live with it in their midst each day.

The optimism and the research never stop. A recent study suggests that a high intake of green tea might protect against muscle cell death in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

Researchers have found that an intake equivalent to seven cups of green tea per day decreased muscle wasting in one type of leg muscle in dystrophic laboratory mice.

There is an increase in oxidative damage when dystrophin is abnormal, and it has been suggested that the tea acts as an antioxidant and helps to combat oxidative stress. This result has not been tested in humans but green tea is generally safe for individuals with neuromuscular conditions to drink.

So, even though more research is required to back up these initial findings, you can raise a cup of green tea to hope and health.

The Making of a Teapot

Bigelow Tea is the provider of more than just wonderful tea. They also carry teapots that are functional, decorative and in some cases crafted by hand, as in the Beehive Tea Set pictured below which you can find on the Bigelow Tea website. So what does functional and decorative mean and how does the artisan go about creating the items that round out our tea experience? Russell Andavall and Maja Tarateta explain the differences:

Beehive Tea Set, a touch of decorative whimsy

Beehive Tea Set, a touch of decorative whimsy

Russell Andavall is a multi-media artist and the owner of FireGod Arts. He writes this about functional ceramic art:

Functional Ceramic Art reaches quintessence when the potter achieves a well-balanced teapot that pours without dribbling, is not too delicate for use or too heavy to lift, and has a lid that does not tumble off while pouring. The well-crafted teapot also includes the basic design elements of artistic pottery.

Maja Tarateta from discovers for us, through a series of interviews with gallery owners, that Functional Ceramic Art achieves Decorative Ceramic Art when an artist takes something we use daily and re-creates it as an abstract sculpture. The teapot form becomes a blank canvas to be turned into something that everyone can derive pleasure from.

Creating a Teapot

Creating a Teapot

Our thanks go out to Neil Patterson Workshop for providing this image

For Viewing: Video Step by Step How to Make a Teapot with Clay

Christopher Nolan’s Tea on Set

Have you gone to see The Dark Knight once, twice, or more often than that? It is deliciously dark, isn’t it? Christopher Nolan certainly wields his directorial magic to perfection with this latest offering. How does he do that? Perhaps it was the thermos full of tea he carried with him as he worked that helped him stay focused on his “knight” vision…

Noritake: The Story behind a Tea Set

The beautiful tea set from Bigelow Tea pictured below was manufactured by a Japanese company known as Noritake, whose table ware and decorative items from the past and the present are prized by collectors today for their beauty and craftsmanship.

Noritake was founded in 1878 by Baron Ichizaemon Morimura in the decade following the opening of Japan’s doors to the rest of the world for trade. He established “Morimura Brothers” in New York for the purpose of importing china and other items. In a bid to ensure that the highest quality Western style tableware was being produced for his import company “he founded a new company called Nippon Toki Gomei Kaisha in the village of Noritake, near Nagoya, on January 1, 1904” and began work on producing what is, to this day, some of the most desirable china in the world. Noritake Co. Ltd. was established in the United States in 1947. ~ See sources below ~ quote taken from Histories of China Manufacturers: refer to sources.

A Modern Day Noritake Tea Set

For viewing: A photo of an artisan at work in the factory circa 1955

For Viewing: A photo of the inside of the Noritake museum — a working factory

Of Interest: International Nippon Collectors’ Club

Source: Noritake Japan

Source: Histories of China Manufacturers

Green Tea Extracts Might Put Obstructive Sleep Apnea to Rest

Is obstructive sleep apnea a nightmare for you? If it is, you are not alone. This disorder affects more than 12 million people in the United States, but there is some suggestion that green tea extracts might allow sufferers to rest easier.

ScienceDaily reports— “Chemicals found in green tea may be able to stave off the cognitive deficits that occur with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), according to a new study published in the second issue for May of the American Thoracic Society’s American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.” The study, conducted on 106 male Sprague-Dawley rats, suggests that Oral supplements of green tea–derived polyphenols reduces the neural susceptibility to intermittent hypoxia during sleep.

The researchers divided the rats into two groups that then underwent intermittent oxygen depletion during the 12-hour “night” cycle for 14 days. One group received drinking water treated with GTP; the other received plain drinking water. Afterwards, researchers tested the two groups for markers of inflammation and oxidative stress, as well as for performance in spatial learning and memory tasks — namely a water “maze” in which the rats had to memorize the location of a hidden platform. The IH-rats that received the green tea-treated water performed significantly better in the water maze than the rats that drank plain water. “GTP-treated rats exposed to IH displayed significantly greater spatial bias for the previous hidden platform position, indicating that GTPs are capable of attenuating IH-induced spatial learning deficits,” Dr. Gozal wrote, adding that GTPs “may represent a potential interventional strategy for patients” with sleep-disordered breathing.

Perhaps a cup of green tea may be worth a try if restful sleep is eluding you…

Boise turns 25

In 1983, the Dow Jones Industrial Average passed the 1200 mark for the first time, Terms of Endearment was big at the box office and the Academy Awards, the Redskins beat the Dolphins, and the Orioles took the Phillies in four games.

Bigelow Tea Company was looking to increase service to the Western United States by adding a packaging facility out west. Several cities were being considered and after a stop in Salt Lake City, which had many nice features it was then on to Portland, Oregon to see what they had to offer. On the way out to Portland the plane made a scheduled stop in Boise, Idaho. Back then the Boise metropolitan area had about 270,000 people and was a pretty quiet little town tucked up against beautiful mountains and fertile farm ground. Based upon that short plane stop another trip was made back to investigate Boise further and in the end it was decided that Boise was to be our new western home.

With plenty of production space and a strong work ethic in the local population, it was felt like this could be a good home for a Bigelow packaging facility. Once the initial 15,000 square foot building was secured, employees were hired and you might say the rest is good history.

Fast forward 25 years to 2008 and the Boise population has increased to 635,000 and Bigelow has a 60,000 square foot production facility that produces a quality product utilizing an employee population with an average tenure of over 12 years.

To help us celebrate this milestone, several “seasoned” folks from corporate headquarters made the trip to Boise to help celebrate this important milestone by reminiscing about the early days while looking forward to continued success at the Boise plant.

Local dignitaries from the Idaho State government, Chamber of Commerce, Buy Idaho, and key vendors, spoke of their appreciation for the contribution Bigelow Tea has made to the quality of life in the Boise area. Everyone joined the Bigelow plant employees in a bar-b-q lunch and cake celebration that capped this special and memorable event.


Actor Ben Barnes Uses Tea to Relieve Sore Throat Pain during Interview

Metro Boston News writer Dorothy Robinson was fortunate enough to be among those who had the opportunity to interview British born actor, Ben Barnes, just prior to the opening of his breakout movie Prince Caspian.

Robinson tells us that she discovered a tired but elated and always charming Ben suffering from a severe throat infection and discloses that he spent the time not only — chatting about his discovery by a casting agent while he was in the play “The History Boys”, his subsequent audition and the movie — but soothing his discomfort with sips of tea.

Ben Barnes

Our appreciation goes out to Ben Barnes Fan for providing this image

China’s Tea Culture Part Two

Tea Culture is about history, economics, harmony and spirituality. It embraces the tea, the paraphernalia, the customs, ceremonies and occasions for consuming tea; becoming finally, an integral part of a people’s way of life.

Tea is used:

  1. To express thanks to your elders on your wedding day: In the traditional Chinese marriage ceremony, both the bride and groom kneel in front of their parents and serve them tea. That is a way to express their gratitude. The parents will usually drink a small portion of the tea and then give them a red envelope, which symbolizes good luck.
  2. To connect large families on wedding days: The tea ceremony during weddings also serves as a means for both parties in the wedding to meet with all members of the other family. Drinking the tea symbolizes acceptance into the family. Refusal to drink symbolizes opposition to the wedding and is quite unheard of since it would result in a loss of ‘face.’ Older relations so introduced would give a red envelope to the matrimonial couple while the couples give a red envelope to younger, unmarried relations.
  3. To pass on the tradition: Kung Fu cha is in Chaoshan is part of the Chaoshan culture. They have a term for it that has no translation to another Chinese language but means, ‘when friends and family get together in a room to drink Kung Fu cha and chat.’ During such occasions, tradition and culture are passed on to the younger generation.
  4. Folding the napkin in tea ceremonies is a traditional action and is done to keep away bad Qi energy in China as tea was regarded as one of the seven daily necessities, the others being firewood, rice, oil, salt, soy sauce, and vinegar.