Ask a Leafster: What is Ayurvedic Kapha Tea?

Andy Boone, Happy Lucky’s General Manager and Master Tea Blender, worked with Ayurvedic practitioner and chef Jennifer Millar to create our line of Ayurvedic herbal blends. For springtime, we reach for Kapha tea which contains lemon balm, dried ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and black peppercorns. Why? 

“These spices and herbs move things around in the body,” Andy says. “They break things up, like chest congestion and also lubricate the joints and ligaments.” 

This tea is drinking particularly good right now—because spring is Kapha season. So, what exactly does Kapha mean and what does it have to do with springtime? Everything. If you have allergies, listen up. 

Ayurveda can seem very mysterious to those of us familiar with Western culture and medicinal practices. It is an ancient functional medicine system developed in India and based on a simple classification system that matches diet, lifestyle, and herbs to the individual to improve health and support wellness.

Here at Happy Lucky’s we have blended teas to specifically help balance the three different Ayurvedic body types, or doshas, called Vata, Pitta, and Kapha

To clear up some of the mystery surrounding this foreign vocabulary we asked Clara Macy, a Northern Colorado Ayurvedic practitioner, to give an overview of Kapha dosha. Here’s what she had to say.

“There are three seasons in Ayurveda. Vata is winter, Kapha is spring, and Pitta is summer. Each season has a little bit more of one or two of the five elements—earth, water, fire, air, and space. All of these exist in nature and in everything, including our bodies. But the ratio of those elements within the body is very unique to each individual. Some of us have a little bit more fire or air or water,” she explains. “It’s your nature, and that’s what dosha means: nature.”

The Kapha dosha has more of the earth and water elements. People who fall under Kapha are earthy, strong and stable, loyal and loving, and very grounded.

Kapha types have a strong build and excellent stamina. Large, soft eyes; smooth, radiant skin; and thick hair are also important Kapha characteristics. Those who are predominantly Kapha sleep soundly and have regular digestion. But when Kapha builds to excess, weight gain, fluid retention, and allergies manifest in the body. When they’re out of balance, Kapha types may become overweight, sleep excessively, and suffer from asthma, diabetes, and depression.

Kaphas are naturally calm, thoughtful, and loving. They have an inherent ability to enjoy life and are comfortable with routine. When in balance, Kaphas are strong, loyal, patient, steady, and supportive. People with an excess of Kapha tend to hold onto things, jobs, and relationships long after they are no longer nourishing or necessary. Excess Kapha in the mind manifests as resistance to change and stubbornness. In the face of stress, the typical Kapha response is, “I don’t want to deal with it.”

If too much of any dosha is present in the body, it will create an imbalance. Since Kapha is inherently cold, heavy, and dense—like an early springtime snow—the key to balancing Kapha is stimulation. Kaphas tend to cling to the status quo and routine, so they need the stimulation of new sights, sounds, and experiences.

To balance Kapha dosha, follow a regular daily routine, ideally awakening before 6 a.m. each morning and avoid taking naps during the day.

Kaphas are particularly sensitive to cold, damp conditions and benefit from heat. Use dry heat if you are congested—a common Kapha complaint. Using a heating pad under your back or a sunlamp at your chest is often helpful. Avoid exposing your nose, throat, and lungs to cold winter air if you aren’t feeling well.

Bryce Miller, one of our Leafsters, goes to the Kapha tea when he wants a jolt of non-caffeinated energy. He also loves the strong flavors of the ginger, peppercorns and cardamom. “I feel very energized after drinking this tea,” he explains. “And it’s exactly what I want when I want a strong, almost aggressive, flavor.”

Welcome spring with Happy Lucky’s Kapha tea. It will move the stagnation out of your body and you will find that you are blossoming, just like the daffodils and crocuses that are welcoming the longer, sunnier days.

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Matcha 101



For some tea drinkers, matcha tea is their go-to beverage. They love matcha’s fresh flavor, its bright green color, antioxidants, and jitter-free, sugar-free, caffeine-loaded kick. For others, it’s a bit of a mystery: the bowl, the whisk, the powder!

Not to worry. Preparing matcha is easier than you think, and once you’ve developed your technique, you’ll find the meditative ritual of making it is just a part of the satisfaction you’ll get from this ancient Japanese tea.

But first, let’s explore matcha’s history. Initially prepared by Chinese Buddhist monks over 900 years ago, matcha became popular in Japanese culture by the 11th century. The frothy beverage remained a mainstay in Japan even though it fell out of popularity in other Asian countries, and continues to be one of the most imbibed teas in Japan, and now in Western countries. The name derives from two Japanese words—“ma,” meaning ground or rubbed, and “cha,” which means tea. 

Like all tea, matcha comes from the Camellia sinensis plant. Most of it is grown in Japan’s Uji and Nishio prefectures. The young plants are covered with reed screens to shade them from sunlight. Over time, the reed screens are covered with straw, and then more straw, to further shade the plants. Shaded growing causes an over-production of chlorophyll, creating matcha’s distinctive bright green hue and increasing theanine (an amino acid), which contributes to matcha’s unique astringent, umami flavor.

Matcha is known for many health benefits. It’s rich in nutrients, chlorophyll, antioxidants, and fiber. Studies have shown that the health benefits of matcha are greater than other green tea varieties because the entire leaf is consumed versus brewing it. Those health benefits include boosting metabolism, enhancing mood and aiding in concentration, lowering cholesterol and blood sugar and providing calming and relaxing effects.

Preparing matcha is a lot less involved and not nearly as intimidating as you think. The mindful ritual is an aaaaaaah moment and sets the tone for your matcha experience.

 First, using a chashaku (bamboo scoop), sprinkle one to two teaspoons of matcha powder into your cup or chawan (tea bowl), and give it a gentle whisk to break up any lumps. Add about three to four ounces of not-quite-boiling water to the bowl and whisk vigorously in a zig zag motion—pretend you’re making an M for matcha—using a chasen (bamboo whisk) until the mixture is frothy. Aside form the actual tea, the chasen is the most important part of the matcha-making process. Happy Lucky’s chasens have between 120-150 bamboo tines, exactly what you want for the perfect not-too-bubbly foam and suspension of the matcha particles. Lesser quality chasens may have only 50 or so tines, and you just won’t get the same light texture in your bowl of matcha. In this case, more is better.

Add more or less matcha powder to suit your taste, but NOT more water. You want to drink your match in no more than 3 1/2 sips. Four sips is considered unlucky in Japanese culture.

bird’s-eye view of a bamboo chasen

Happy Lucky’s ceremonial matcha blend is Grade A, the finest of the fine. While there is no formal grading system, our matcha is organic and a “fine pluck,” just two leaves and a bud. It’s then ground to produce a light and delicate powder with no added sugar. Our buyer, Dylan, says it’s the most delicious matcha powder he’s been able to source. “I’m always on the hunt, too,” he says. The Zen blend has added sugar and fruit pectins, which makes it more palatable to the Western tongue. Top with frothed milk and et voilà, a latte.

With spring arriving on March 20th, matcha’s bright green color and sprightly flavor makes it the perfect tea to celebrate the new season. Different matchas have different flavor profiles, and you’re sure to find your favorite.

Q: What’s on Tap at Happy Lucky’s?

A: Kombucha!

Life as you know it just got better.

Happy Lucky’s is now offering four different kombucha teas on tap. We’ve partnered with local producers (Rowdy Mermaid, Wild & Free, Turtle Mountain, and Happy Leaf) to give you the best of the best in northern Colorado. By the glass or by the growler, we’ve got a variety that is sure to please everyone.

Why Kombucha?

There are evidence-based health benefits to drinking kombucha. But first, here’s a quick overview of this go-to healthy beverage. While it may seem like the new kid on the block, kombucha has been around for 2,000 years, and dates back to ancient China. Its base is green or black tea, sugar and specific strains of bacteria known as a scoby (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast). These ingredients are mixed together in a crock or other fermentation vessel and allowed to ferment, resulting in probiotic-rich kombucha. During the fermentation process, the bacteria and yeast form a mushroom-like film atop the liquid, which is why kombucha is often referred to as “mushroom tea.” Given enough time, this film becomes a baby scoby. The original is the “mother.” Brewers add herbs, spices, and fruit to give each tea its unique (and delicious) flavor. The fermentation process creates acetic acid (also found in vinegar) and several other acidic compounds, trace levels of alcohol and gases that give it its carbonation.

SCOBY floating in a batch of Kombucha
image courtesy Wild & Free Fermented Tea

Kombucha is chock full o’ probiotics that are important for gut health. Probiotics aid in digestion, inflammation, and some believe it’s beneficial for weight loss by breaking down undigestible fiber. 

Kombucha contains antioxidants, the substances that fight free radicals, reactive molecules that can damage your cells. Many scientists believe that antioxidants that come from food and beverages are better for you than those found in supplements. When kombucha is made from green tea, it multiplies the antioxidant effects of the tea. Studies have shown that drinking green tea kombucha can reduce liver toxicity by as much as 70 percent. 

Kombucha may stave off heart disease by greatly improving two of its markers: “bad” LDL and “good” HDL cholesterol in as few as 30 days. The tea base protects LDL cholesterol particles from oxidation, which is thought to contribute to heart disease. In fact, green tea drinkers have up to a 31% lower risk of developing heart disease, a benefit that may also apply to kombucha.

Kombucha may help protect the body against cancer. Test-tube studies have shown that the high concentration of antioxidants and polyphenols in kombucha helps prevent the growth and spread of cancerous cells. The anti-cancer properties of tea polyphenols is not completely understood, though it id thought that they block gene mutation and cancer cell growth, while also killing off the cancer cells. Keep in mind that further studies are needed as kombucha’s anti-cancer effects in people has not been confirmed.

Kombucha may help manage Type 2 Diabetes. More than 300 million people (worldwide) are affected by Type 2 diabetes. A study of diabetes rats found that kombucha slowed carbohydrate digestion, reducing blood sugar levels. The rats also had improved liver and kidney function. Again, when kombucha is made from green tea, it benefits from its high antioxidant levels, which itself has been shown to reduce blood sugar.

image courtesy Rowdy Mermaid Kombucha

Let’s raise a cup to Happy Lucky’s kombucha. It’s delicious. It’s good for you. And it supports local small businesses. Cheers!

To Your Health

Wellness Teas Help to Fight What Ails You

The holidays are behind us. All the later-than-usual nights, the merry making at parties, and yes, the occasional over indulgence in alcohol and rich foods can take its toll on your immune system. And with a compromised immune system comes colds, disrupted sleep, a lack of focus, and stress.

What if you could brew up an antidote to all of the above and more? What if your afternoon pick-me-up was packed with polyphenols (phytochemical antioxidant powerhouses), amino acids, and catechins (the class of flavonoids that make green tea such a super hero)? Well, toss the what-ifs out the window because at Happy Lucky’s we carry a host of wellness teas that will see you through the winter and stave off all sorts of nastiness.

Our wellness blends are chock full of goodness—both in taste and the ingredients we use. Happy Lucky’s Leafsters are knowledgeable about adaptogenic herbs and roots, which have been used for centuries in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine and play a big part in our formulation. Adaptogens work by interacting with the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal (HPA) triad which regulates the body’s response to stress and fatigue. They may adjust hormone production and physiological responses to stress so that your body—from your mind to your energy levels and immune system—functions as it should.

Wellness teas are a quick and easy health tonic. With today’s busy modern day lifestyles, swapping out a latte for a more healthful herbal option is much easier than trying for a complete diet and exercise overhaul. While we absolutely advocate for a balanced lifestyle, supplementing your healthy habits with wellness teas is a direct route to managing the stressors that our overloaded calendars stack on top of us. Take a look at Happy Lucky’s wellness blends (and their powerful ingredients) that will boost your energy, build immunity, and make you feel so much better. Because, you’re worth it.

Koala Bear’s Nasal Care: When your nose is running off your face, this tea made from eucalyptus, spearmint, peppermint, lemongrass, chamomile, orange peel, ginger, clove, nettle, and licorice will slow the pace and let you take that deep breath you’ve been longing for.

Hangover Monkey: Your go-to day-after make-it-better tea. Dandelion, burdock, roasted chickory and nettle help your liver detoxify, while skullcap eases the nerves with some assistance from goji berries. Schizandra berries provides more protection for the liver; rose hips give a bit of vitamin C; a touch of black tea should put a little bounce back in your step; licorice root and orange add a nice lingering sweet finish.

Vitalitea:What’s in a name? In this instance, everything. Vitalitea is exactly what the name says it is, and is blended with alfalfa, red raspberry leaf, tulsi, chamomile, ginkgo biloba, nettle leaf, red clover, rose hips, lemongrass and hibiscus. 

Be Well: A TKO blended with ginger root, linden leaf and flower, lemon myrtle, french vervaine, lemongrass, orange peel, echinacea purpea tops and roots, nettle leaf, rose hips, pao d’ arco bark and lemon peel delivers a punch that ratchets up your immune system.

Cosmic Cold: Find relief from the  sneezes, headaches, sore throat and aches and pains that come with colds with this blend of chamomile, yarrow, feverfew, elder berry, elder flower, red clover, rose hips, hibiscus, yerba santa, cinnamon and lemon peel. 

Peppermint Pat-Tea: So much goodness is found in this tea. Peppermint, marsh mallow root, and ginger soothe upset stomaches. Slippery elm bark makes a sore throat feel oh, so much better. And chocolate? That’s for the extra yumminess. (So much yumminess.) 

Ginger Orange Carrot:Dried orange peel, carrot, ginger, and turmeric. That is an antioxidant super cocktail, guaranteed to shoot your immune system through the stratosphere.

Golden Chai’Ld: Turmeric, CTC Assam black tea, pepper corns, coconut, and cinnamon show inflammation the door. Buh-bye!

Moon Cycle:Tame monthly cramps, bloating and stress with our exclusive blend of dong quai, marshmallow, licorice, cramp bark, roasted dandelion, ginger, cinnamon, clove, cardamom, and sarsparilla. 

Baby on Board: Take good care of your most precious cargo with red raspberry leaf, alfalfa, nettle, spearmint, rose hips, linden leaf and flower, as well as a touch of fennel seed. 

Detox Herbal Blend:Your liver will love this blend of goji berries, burdock root, dandelion root, licorice root, orange peel, and roasted chicory root. Long lasting sweetness of licorice and orange peel make this tea extra special. 

Long winter months can be tough. Be good to yourself. Have a cup of wellness tea. Each one of them is super good, super healthful, and quite possibly, your very own super power.

Chocolate Tea: The Treat that Treats You Back

Chocolate tea. It’s rich and delicious and indulgent. The flavor profile is complex and sophisticated. Add milk (we like it frothed) and a shot of sugar or honey, and you have a mugful of happiness: delightful and just right any time of the day. For the non-dairy, no sugar alternative, chocolate tea is delicious with coconut milk and just a touch of stevia or coconut sugar. We’re featuring chocolate teas this month — perfect for a guilt-free holiday treat. (And as a gift for your chocolate loving friends.)

At Happy Lucky’s, we blend our chocolate teas with cacao hulls, not artificial flavorings or syrups. We carefully choose the base teas and other ingredients to craft our very own unique teas that you simply cannot find anywhere else.

Cacao hulls are the thin, papery skins the surround the whole cacao bean. They contain generous amounts of amino acids and theobromine, a naturally occurring compound found in both cacao plants and tea leaves. Theobromine affects the body similarly to caffeine, but with a much gentler come-down. It’s been shown to lower blood pressure, improve brain function, and increase airflow to the lungs. Even better, it naturally promotes health enamel in teeth — that’s not going to happen with a candy bar. Score!

You’re bound to find a chocolate tea (Or two. Or three.) that will tickle your taste buds and in some instances, your tummy. Peppermint Pat-Tea, for instance, contains ginger, slippery elm bark, and marsh mallow root that have known benefits for stomach upsets and also aid in digestion.   Or try Chocolate Mints, an herbal blend that doubles your pleasure with peppermint and spearmint.

Chocolate Chai is blended with chocolate (of course) Rooibos Chocolate Orange, Rooibos Vanilla, ginger, cinnamon bark chips, cloves, cardamom, orange peel, and nutmeg. 

Aztec Chocolate is the tea lovers answer to Mexican hot chocolate. The chocolate, cinnamon, and Happy Lucky’s super secret blend of peppers and chilis will warm you from the belly up. 

Who doesn’t love chocolate and raspberries? The sprightly tartness of the berries and the rich velvety chocolate make Rooibos Chocolate Raspberry a creamy, decadent, and delicious treat. 

If you haven’t given Pu-er a try, Chocolate Aire is a great start. It’s a deep and earthy tea that blends China Topaz Pu-er, chocolate, and two vanilla teas — rooibos and black — with a touch of roasted chicory root. 

With so many chocolate teas to choose from, there really is only one response: yes, please.

Nuo Mi Xiang Ch — The Secret Ingredient in Kheer Chai

Like a bowl of Kheer, the beloved rice pudding dessert of India, Happy Lucky’s Kheer Chai is sweet smelling with cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and one very special ingredient: nuo mi xiang cha. Known as “sticky rice herb,” nuo mi xiang cha is a rare plant indigenous to southern China’s Yunnan province. The crushed leaves release a scent similar to basmati rice.

All you need is one whiff of this tea from the sniffer can to know it’s something very special and very unique. And it was a long time in the making.

“We used to carry pressed disks of sticky rice pu-er and it was pretty common to see Rich (one of our Leafsters) run around and grab herbs from here and there — cardamom, cinnamon, and sometimes ginger — to make a tea that tasted similar to rice pudding,” explains Master Blender and store manager, Andy. Because he was blending per cup, the tea was never quite the same each time and Andy encouraged Rich to create a blend that could be offered on our Great Wall of Tea.

“I wanted to blend something that would taste and smell like kheer,” says Rich. “It’s one of my favorite foods, and it became a goal of mine to recreate it as a tea. The “sticky rice” herb became a foundational element, and it grew from there.”

The result: comfort food in a tea cup.

While it’s common to find nuo mi xiang cha pressed into pu-er discs, it’s difficult to find the herb in its pure form. Andy contacted one of Happy Lucky’s suppliers who has many Chinese sources, and this request was a head scratcher. While the supplier had never seen nuo mi xiang cha offered on its own, she knew it was found in pu-er villages and is frequently offered in local hotels as an alternative to tea because it’s so warming and delicious.

Soon, a kilo of nuo mi xiang cha arrived at Happy Lucky’s and the experimentation commenced. China Velour Pu-er is the base, providing a layered and complex flavor profile. (Pu-er is fermented; processed in such a way to encourage microbial fermentation after the leaves are dried, resulting in a deep, rich tea.) Then something magic happened when a pinch of this and a sprinkle of that were added to added to the loose-leaf China Pu-er tea. 

A perfect “it’s getting colder outside” drink, Kheer Chai is delicious on its own, but Rich recommends it with a splash of milk and sugar or honey to get the full “rice pudding” effect. It’s a wonderful way to start the morning or for sipping to get you through a mid-afternoon slump. Keep in mind, pu-er is caffeinated, so Kheer Chai may not the be ideal pre-bedtime drink.

We promise you will fall in love with this new blend just as much as we have.

1,000 Cranes for Peace

We did it. This April, you wonderful people banded together and helped us fold 1,000 cranes between our two teahouses.  Now it is time to figure out where to send them. So far we have two nominations, but are welcoming more.

  1. The Family of  Robert W. Napier (Bobby and her three children)

 

 

Shawn Grey-Schulte, the founder of the Iron Horse Challenge Facebook page with the primary focus on the fight to end ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) nominated the family of Robert Hawkins-Napier.  Robert was a father of three, a loving husband, and a lived with ALS for over a decade before passing away this March.

Robert’s wife, Bobby,  was his primary care nurse, which cost the family dearly.  Shawn wanted to nominate Bobby and her kids because he sees them in need of the gift of peace and any symbols that can help them through the rough time ahead.

  1. People of Palestine

Sheryl Martin is nominating the country of Palestine to send some peace. Palestine is presently undergoing a genocide and has had ongoing oppression since 1948.  The Palestinians are losing hope as many of their children are being killed and imprisoned.


This list will be updated when we have more nominations. Who would you send a message of peace? Let us know on Facebook.