On the evening of the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games, Zen Tara Tea introduced a new collection of functional Health & Harmony teas to help support an active lifestyle, exercise workouts, endurance and recovery. Although each of the tea blends taste great on their own merits, both the flavors and the functional botanical ingredients were created with the help of sampling and feedback by over 800 runners at local running races.
While much attention is lavished on the health benefits of drinking tea, we have always stood by a principle of enjoying teas for their taste, their calming ritual and their sustained lifting of our spirits. Should tea have all or most of the healthy properties associated with it by a long list of research studies; what a wonderful bonus.
The development of our Health & Harmony teas: Workout, Run, Endure, Finish Strong and Recover was inspired by the local walkers, runners, bicyclists and outdoor enthusiasts who pass near our tea shop in Bethesda on the nearby Capital Crescent Trail. This popular urban trail extends from Washington DC north to Bethesda and connects up with Rock Creek Park which rivals Central Park in NYC in size, breadth and accessibility.
As we pulled these blends together, we selected teas and botanical ingredients with long histories of health benefits that could support exercise and recovery. And we did many, many taste tests. How do the teas "perform"? At a basic level, as well as water, better probably but what about compared to commercial sports drinks? Hard to say since so much of the "science" behind popular drinks like Gatorade and Powerade is funded by the beverage companies themselves, much of which has come under scrutiny lately in an article in the British Medical Journal, "The Truth About Sports Drinks".
We do know this from personal experience, that on both ends of the exercise spectrum, commercial sports drinks can be a challenge. For those who do shorter workouts (less than an hour), particularly with an interest in losing weight, some of these drinks can have 150-200 calories per bottle mostly from high fructose corn syrup. To put that into context, if you did 3 miles on a treadmill and drank a bottle of one of these sports drinks doing it, 2 of the miles don't really count because of the calories of your beverage. Drink water alone, you get the benefit of 3 miles, drink one of our tea blends with added antioxidants, vitamins and minerals and you get a health boost on top of the workout.
During longer endurance training, there is some merit to the calories and sodium in the sports drinks to help sustain the effort but for many people the drinks cause stomach/digestive problems. Gains in carbohydrates and electrolytes are offset by side trips to restrooms or porta-potties. For others, without stomach issues the drinks might be viable but they still have a drawback in that they are nutritional "zeros". Other than satisfying a thirst, there really isn't much else it is doing for you (and according to one study, 3 out of 4 bottles of sports drinks are consumed by people sitting at their desk).
Our goal was to create tea blends with known healthy properties that started out with virtually no calories. Brew them, throw them over ice and let them fuel your workout. The option to sweeten is left up to you to control how sweet you want the flavor, whether with honey, agave or other natural sweeteners to provide calories to burn on longer workouts or using zero calorie alternative sweeteners to not compromise weight loss goals. Additionally, the moderate levels of caffeine in some of the blends enhance the energy level of your workout.
We hope you enjoy these new blends, that they help support your active lifestyle and provide both support for your workout as well as aiding in the recovery between workouts. We welcome your feedback and suggestions as well as any ideas for new blends or flavors you would like to see in future Health & Harmony teas. You can reach us at: support[at]zentaratea[dot]com.