Tea Time

True teas—white, green, oolong, and black — all come from the same ancient plant and contain varying levels of caffeine, vitamins, and antioxidant-packed polyphenols. But a hot cup of tea won’t always hit the spot. So why not combine it with food or try cooking with it? Explore the food world a bit.

The best way to ensure you have the water at the right temperature is to get yourself a cooking thermometer.

White Tea | Steep time: 1 to 3 minutes at 165° to 185°
Because white tea is so delicate, it’s hard to cook with, but you can easily pair it up with food to accompany a meal. Try white tea with either poached pears or ice cream to enhance the flavors of both.

Green Tea | Steep time 2 to 3 minutes at 165° to 185°
Green tea is a great match when sautéing scallops or shrimp with a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Oolong Tea | 3 to 5 minutes at 180° to 195
Oolong tea is a great liquid for poaching fish or lobster. Oolong can also be used as a spice and to braise meat.

Black Tea | Steep time: 3 to 5 minutes at 210° to 212°
Black tea is great for grilling chicken, fish, and veggies with full-bodied black tea leaves (Assam or Kenyan), ground ginger, coriander, black peppercorns, brown sugar, and salt. Black tea also makes a great red wine substitute when cooking.

Eco Dry

Plant it
The average household runs 392 loads of laundry a year. As of January 2007, the U.S. Department of Energy requires washers to use 21 percent less energy. This, combined with earth-friendly detergents, may be a step in the right direction, but what about your dryer sheets? Used to help remove static cling, these little sheets can pack quite a punch as it relates to chemicals and waste.

Water it
Don’t just toss ‘em! You can use them for multiple loads or around the house for dusting your TV screen, removing hair from pets, furniture and clothing and eliminating the musty smell from books. Try an alternative! Make your own with reusable rags dipped in essential oils. This can add a natural good smell to your freshly laundered clothes. Get the static out before it begins. Remove your clothes from the dryer about five minutes before they are totally dry. Keeping clothes in the dryer past their “done” time is the No. 1 cause of static.

Grow it
Make an organic cotton sachet filled with dried herbs like lavender. These are great gifts and can serve as multiple use ‘dryer sheets’. Offer to help a friend with their laundry, and share some green tips while you’re at it. Make a “Green Your Wash” challenge and invite your friends to participate. Organize the goals of what you want to accomplish (natural cleaners, smaller loads, less water, cut back on dryer sheets, etc.). Decide on a due date, and then come together and share your progress. You can even make it a contest for a little added motivation.More info at www.earth911.org

Clean Better: Better Vacuum Choices

Vacuum cleaners keep our homes dirt and dust free, or so we hope. However, often times, dust, dander, and allergens are left floating in the air after our cleaning session. There are some saving graces on the market though. Many models have air filters in them that do a better job then the average Hoover. Natural Health Magazine gives us their best choices.

[table id=2 /]

Breathe Easier
If your vacuum takes a bag, breathe easier with Arm & Hammer Odor Eliminating bags. They contain baking soda that naturally removes odors caused by mold, bacteria, and fungi that can be on your floors. They also trap allergens such as dander, dust mites, and ragweed pollens.

DIY Stain Remover
The Next time you need a stain remover for stains and odors, thy this recipe from Annie B Bond, the executive producer of Carez’s Green Living Channel. Mix equal parts liquid dish soap and hydrogen peroxide and apply to stain with a sponge. Blot the area and reapply if necessary and then use warm water to rinse the area.

Live Green

Living space choices can reduce your carbon footprint substantially. Maybe a yurt’s not in your future, but more and more eco-living communities are developing around the country. In our area, think modular home communities (where your carbon footprint is a fraction of what it is in a traditional 1500 sq. foot house), smaller homes with unwatered lawns (less is more for our planet), or even geodesic homes.

The Buckminster Fuller Institute lists all kinds of advantages to geodesic dwellings, efficiency prime among them (www.bfi.org), but the few you’ll see in our region probably won’t be for sale anytime soon. If you’re house hunting, know that green realtors aren’t completely unheard of. Jeff Hoel is a green realtor in Menomonie, one of the very few in a 100 mile radius (bigguy@landking.com) of Eau Claire.

If you’re building, there are lots of options (www.ecohome.org) you can consider to reduce the effects your home might have on the environment without sacrificing style and luxury.

Don’t even get us started on thermal mass homes (www.earthomes.net) or underground homes (www.undergroundhomes.com), which use the earth to insulate the home and ultimately save loads of energy. The bottom line: what you choose to live in can make as much difference as how you live in it.

Shingles Treated the Chinese Way

by Paul Lin

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can offer a wide range of modalities for the treatment of Shingles. This includes, but is not limited to, using internal and topical herbs, moxibustion, acupuncture, cupping, and bleeding, or any combination of these different modalities.

• Internal herbs: Because of individual differences and the variations of this condition, Shingles can be differentiated into as many as 15 patterns according to Chinese medicine theory. The main causes of this condition are “Fire,” “Heat,” and “Damp.” The main organs involved are liver and gall bladder, but heart and spleen can sometimes be involved too. The most common pattern is “damp heat resides in the liver/ gall bladder meridians.” To treat this pattern, practitioners of TCM most often use or modify the classic formula known as “Long Dan Xie Gan Tang.” Its main ingredient is Chinese Gentian root among nine other herbs. In my experience, Valtrex might be able to reduce the sores; it does not always address the underlying pattern – damp heat. As long as there are still signs of damp heat, this formula can still be used.

• Topical herbs: Xiong Huang (Realgar) and Ming Fan (Alum) are the main substances for this application and might be enough by itself, if treated in the early stage (within 1-2 days) of Shingles.

• Moxibustion: This method uses Ai-Ye (Mugwort leaf) moxa stick ember heat to warm the local infected area, to release toxins. One classic text of Chinese medicine, Yi Zong Jin Jian, emphasizes that one should always apply this method in case of infection, within seven days.

• Acupuncture: With this method, 4-15 disposable needles are inserted from both sides (1 cm away) of the sores diagonally (15 degree) towards the other side, in a square or cross fashion to circle the infected area. The idea is to invigorate the blood locally, regulate the flow of Qi, and prevent further spreading of the infection. Electrical current is sometimes applied to the needles to reduce the pain or to the area where needle manipulation is difficult. Depending on the pattern differentiation, other body points are selected as well: LI4, LI11, GB20, GB34, TB5, TB6, ST36, ST40, Liv 13, Liv14, Sp6, Sp10.

• Cupping/Bleeding: One study (55 people) shows that bleeding the inner and outer corners of thumb and big toe nails can be very effective. One study (36 people) uses needles to poke the sores then uses a vacuum cup on top for 10-15 minutes. Another study (110 people) uses fire cupping without breaking the sores. They all seem to yield good results.