The Herbal Bear - Newsletters

The Herbal Bear
March  2007 Newsletter

In this issue

  • Benefits of Green Tea
  • The Japanese Tea Ceremony
  • The Herbal Bear Classes



The Benefits of Green Tea
By Ursula Basch                                                                            
Herbal Bear School of Botanical Medicine

The tea most commonly sold in stores and supermarkets is made from the dried leaves of the tea plant (Camellia sinensis). There are several different varieties of tea: green, black and oolong.  All these teas are from the same plant  - the differences in taste and appearance are a result of how the tea leaves are processed once they are picked.

Green tea contains the highest concentration of polyphenols.  The average cup of green tea contains 50 - 150 mg of polyphenols.  Decaffeinated green teas contain 20%-40% less polypenols than the caffeinated teas. Polyphenols are chemicals that act as powerful anti-oxidants and are useful because they scavenge free radicals. Free radicals are compounds in the body which can alter cell membranes, interfere with the genetic material of DNA and even cause cell death.  Free radicals occur naturally in the body.  However, certain environmental toxins - such as ultraviolet light, cigarette smoke, air pollutants and exposure to industrial chemicals - can increase the number of free radicals present in the body.  The polyphenols present in green tea can neutralize free radicals and may reduce or prevent the damage they cause. Green tea's health effects have been studied and the results of these studies yield some promising results. Here are a few of green tea's medicinal actions:


Animal and human studies suggest that the polyphenols in green tea may play an important role in cancer prevention.  The polyphenols present in green tea have been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells, specifically breast, bladder,  esophageal and stomach cancers. Foods and beverages rich in antioxidants have long been suggested as a preventative measure against cancers.  Current research being conducted on the antioxidant properties of green tea seem to support this approach.




Circulatory Health  Studies have show that green tea has the ability to lower total cholesterol levels.  Additionally studies have shown that green tea's antioxidant properties - specifically related to its polyphenol content, may prevent atherosclerosis, particularly coronary artery disease. 





Diabetes - Green tea has been traditionally used to control blood sugar.  Animal studies suggest that green tea may help prevent the development of type I diabetes and may even help slow the progression of disease one it has developed.


Click on each individual health issue for info about studies on green tea and:  cancer, cardiac health, diabetes


The Japanese Tea Ceremony
by Ursula Basch
Herbal Bear School of Botanical Medicine 

The Japanese tea ceremony (茶道,  chanoyu, chadō or sadō, "the way of tea") is a traditional ritual influenced by Zen Buddhism in which powdered green tea, or matcha (抹茶 ), is ceremonially prepared by a skilled practitioner and served to a small group of guests in a tranquil setting. A tradition that has exisited for over  500 years, the Japanese tea ceremony evolved after traders returned to Japan from China with the powdered tea.  Originally used for medicinal purposes by an aristocratic class, the drinking of tea eventually merged with Zen philosophy, creating a ceremony that is both spiritual and meditative. The tea ceremony is a uniquely Japanese  experience, integrating Zen philosoph LionsMane2y, architecture, calligraphy, pottery, floral design, and etiquette.

Chanoyu has developed as a transformative practice with the preparation and serving of tea the discipline. The host himself cleans the garden, sweeps the tearoom, draws water, builds the fire, selects and displays works of art, prepares the meal and tea, and serves his guests.  By observing everything that makes up a tea gathering, the guest comes to understand the host's consideration for him and a genuine appreciation of their relationship arises.


Hisashi Yamada, from the Urasenke Chanoyu Center of New York, gives demonstrations of the Japanese tea ceremony in the Japan gallery of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC) every two months. The next demonstration will take place at:

Japanese Tea Ceremony at the Metroplitan Museum of Art
April 4, 2007
2:00 p.m.
The Sackler Wing Galleries for the Arts of Japan
Free with Museum admission

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street
New York, New York 10028-0198


Interested in learning more about  the tea ceremony?  Visit the Urasenke Chanoyu Center of NY -


We are offering the following classes:

Medicinal Plant Preparations Workshop- Saturday April 14, 2007 Introduction to Herbal Medicine - Saturday May 5, 2007                        Herbal Soap Making Saturday May 19, 2007
Medical Botany I - 4 Sundays, April 15 – May 6, 2007 
Phyto-Chemistry of Medicinal Plants
- - September 22 & 23, 2007

Click on any of the above courses to see a full description.

For our full schedule - click here

We are also currently accepting applications for the 2007 Botanical Medicine Program.

2007 Botanical Medicine Program
A six weekend intensive program for those interested in a well rounded education in herbal studies. This class is designed to give  students a solid foundation in herbalism.  Each class we will learn about herbs for the different systems including: the digestive, nervous, cardiac, reproductive, and immune system.  Students will learn plant identification, harvesting techniques, medicinal plant preparations and herbal formula development.   This class is held in the Northern Catskills on a private 30 acre property.  Many of the medicinal plants we study are growing in our gardens or found on our property.  Unlike other herbals classes, this class incorporates field work with the plants.  You will be able to see, study and harvest medicinal plants throughout the entire growing season.  This class is designed for beginning and intermediate herbal students. For a full description of this class - please click here.

If you have any specific questions about our programs, please feel free to contact us


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