Monday, February 20, 2012

Tea and the imagination: a writer's guide

Studies show (I hate writing that but apparently studies show...) that tea is good for a great many things but I use it primarily to wake me up and to focus. It is my saviour on zombie mornings and my preferred method of relaxing when I've overdone the brain pan.

The reason I began with studies show was because I thought I'd say more than "I like tea" and "I'm dying for a cup of tea right now". So, tea is said to boost mental alertness, which explains things for me. It contains the amino acid L-theanine, which actively alters the attention networks of the brain,  as found by human trials begun in September 2007 (I wouldn't mind being a subject in that test). It has been proposed that theanine affects the brain's neurotransmitters, increasing alpha brain-wave activity. That apparently just means that tea makes you calmer and yet more alert.

On to caffeine. The caffeine content in a cup of green tea is generally between 15 and 50 mg. Caffeine consumption has been found to help reduce the likelihood of Parkinson's disease and provide a temporary increase in the drinker's short term memory. Of interest, caffeine consumption has been linked with the reduction in duration and severity of headaches. No wonder my zombie-mode disappears fairly quickly after drinking tea.

Personally, I find my thinking clears and I can make connections that I otherwise wouldn't. Also, if I ever stop I'd likely melt into a puddle but that is by the by. In short, I need tea to write effectively and to break through those times when the blank screen seems to be taunting me.

Don't forget to practice a little imagination and “read” your tea leaves. Even if you can’t do so using the traditional methods, you can just make it up. "I see a bird... or is it a plane. Travel in the future? Or super powers."

Just a note on tea for your benefit:
If you add citrus juice to your tea the antioxidant catechins are absorbed into the bloodstream at a greater rate, amongst other things. If you add milk on the other hand you will block the normal healthy effects of tea in protecting your cardiovascular system. Both types of tea have benefits so you could pick your benefits with your tea, mixing and matching as you please.

Now, I'm going to have that tea.

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