March 2019 Newsletter

by Christopher

March Right In

After a rather crazy February winter in the Pacific Northwest (and elsewhere), we enter the month of March thankful for a little less snow on the ground. Our operations came to a brief pause in late February as we dealt with 22+ inches of snow, loss of power, internet and phones for several days. But, we’re back in the full swing of things just in time to share news about our green tea sale, a lesson on caffeine and some tea updates.

March Matcha Madness Returns

Stock up now on one of the planet’s most amazing, nutritious and life enriching natural beverages – Matcha. Now available at the best price in our 12+ year history, our prized certified-organic ceremonial grade matcha is made from spring-picked, organic, single-estate “tencha” grown in Kagoshima, Japan. Tencha leaves are shaded for 20 days prior to being harvested to increase chlorophyll levels, lightly sweeten the flavor and increase production of amino acids, particularly L-Theanine. Matcha is widely regarded for increasing mental clarity, boosting metabolism, and providing a focused energy sustained for several hours without the "jitters." Furthermore, studies have shown it to have more antioxidant power than any other “superfood” on the market.

Save an additional 10% off our already incredible pricing for our Ceremonial Grade Matcha through March 15, 2019. Living better starts here!


Green Tea Sale Event

Save up to 25% on a wide variety of healthful and delicious green teas during our March Green Tea Sale Event. Sale ends March 15, 2019.


Taste For Yourself

Our Morning Rain custom white tea blend is already a hit with a number of our loyal customers since its re-release in early February. Now, as a newsletter subscriber, you can enjoy a free taste of this delightful blend for yourself! Simply add a "sample size" of Morning Rain to your cart and then enter Coupon Code: HIDDENCODE during checkout to apply the savings. Offer expires 3/31/19.


Tea Updates

We review the price of every tea in our large collection each year as we analyze our costs for bringing you the great teas you’ve come to expect. We're thrilled to announce that our efforts to streamline operating costs along with increased buying power have allowed us to actually LOWER prices on nearly two dozen teas! We’ve also merged a couple of our best selling “reserves” teas onto our regular menu due to their popularity, thereby offering the best prices ever for our Jasmine Beauty, Kumari Gold and White Prakash selections. We look forward to keeping these on our regular menu as we continue to enjoy and expand our relationship with these very small, though brilliant farmers and tea makers. Cheers to that!


Caffeine: Friend or Foe?

First of all, what is caffeine? Simply put, it is a naturally occurring chemical produced by certain plants in defense of predators. Yes, it is nature’s own pesticide. It is bitter in taste and is often extracted from relevant plants and seeds for use as a stimulant in beverages. It is naturally occurring in several plants native to Africa, East Asia and South America; think tea, yerba maté, cocoa, and coffee amongst others.

There is a lot of information out there about the levels of caffeine in tea and how it compares to coffee. In general, tea has about half of the caffeine of coffee. Furthermore, the effect of caffeine in tea is tempered by the presence of L-Theanine. This amino acid has a direct effect on the brain wherein it increases activity in the alpha frequency band which indicates that it relaxes the mind without inducing sleepiness. In tea, L-Theanine works synergistically with the stimulant effect of caffeine. Together, they help promote mental clarity, boost metabolism and provide a focused energy for several hours without the “jitters” effect often associated with caffeine as found in other beverages like coffee, sugary sodas and energy drinks.

But what about times when you don’t want the stimulant effect of caffeine at all? Can’t caffeine be removed to produce “decaffeinated” tea? The short answer is, yes, caffeine can mostly be removed, though you should be aware that in many cases, the process is not just removing caffeine but most likely adding chemicals to your favorite beverage along with deteriorating some of the helpful polyphenols (antioxidants) in the process. Ouch.

Speaking of caffeine removal, one common myth suggests that “rinsing” tea for 30 seconds will remove 80% of the caffeine. We’re sorry to say that laboratory testing reveals you’ll need about 15 minutes in boiling water to remove all or most of the caffeine from the tea leaf. And what's left after that may not be all that satisfying to taste or very functional from a nutritional point of view. Yikes.

Another common mistake regarding tea and caffeine is to assign or label caffeine levels based on tea type (e.g., white, green, black, oolong, etc.). Caffeine levels vary in tea based on a number of variables including, but not limited to:

The age of the leaf at the time of plucking is a big factor when determining the level of caffeine in tea. Younger leaves have more caffeine as the plant tries to protect its most vulnerable leaves from hungry little critters.

The level of caffeine can vary up to 33% based on the variety of Camelia Sinensis (tea plant) used to make the tea.

Plucking season (and climate) also contributes to varying levels of caffeine with faster growing seasons (e.g., spring) yielding higher levels than others.

Steeping method is another big factor in regard to how much caffeine is revealed in your cup. Caffeine levels can be dramatically increased by using hotter water and longer steep times. For instance, while a green tea made from spring-picked, bud and first leaf might actually possess a higher level of caffeine than a black tea made from older leaves picked in autumn, the shorter steep time and cooler water used for brewing up that green tea will yield less caffeine in the final cup.

At Modern Steep, we do not "decaffeinate" our teas due to many of the reasons cited above. However, we do offer a huge assortment of tisanes (herbal blends & botanicals) all without caffeine to suit a wide variety of tastes.

With all of that said, there is far more to learn about caffeine in tea. Should you wish to learn more, there are a number of studies available on the web from sources such as the National Institutes of Health, Food Research International, the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, along with several studies executed by and/or discussed by one of the world’s leading tea scientists, Nigel Melican.


That wraps it up for this month’s edition. We look forward to hearing from you and wish you a wonderful month of March. Be Green. Drink Green!