• Cold-Brewed Calm

    Equitea co-founder Quentin Vennie discusses three new condition-specific canned, cold-brewed tea blends to ease anxiety and depression, improve focus, and calm young people coping with ADHD.

    • Caption: Quentin Vennie, co-founder of Equitea, Baltimore, Maryland
    Quentin Vennie, co-founder of Equitea, Baltimore, MD
    Quentin Vinnie, Co-founder Equitea
    Quentin Vennie, Co-founder Equitea

    Cold-Brewed Calm in a Can

    Author and wellness expert Quentin Vennie, with his wife Erin, on the advice of their son’s neurologist, found that green tea helped their seven-year-old boy maintain calm and focus. Diagnosed with ADHD, a condition leading to impulsive, hyperactive behavior, tea’s unique combination of L-Theanine and Caffeine offered relief, but loose-leaf teas were challenging to brew and not that tasty to a pre-teen. Quentin and Erin added calming botanicals to make the tea palatable. Inspired by their success, they launched a tea venture that produced packaged teas that became a favorite of Gwyneth Paltrow, whose company goop sells the teas online.

    Dan Bolton: I see that Equitea teas and botanicals are purpose blended. Will you tell listeners about your personal experience and how it led to their development?

    Quentin Vennie: We created Equitea essentially out of necessity. My son was diagnosed with ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) when he was seven. Given my own history of dealing with mental health issues, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, depression, and addiction to prescription pills, I wanted to manage his diagnosis holistically.

    His neurologist recommended that he drink green tea before any big assignments or tests in school. The idea was that the L-theanine and the caffeine would give him a calm focus like Adderall would but without the risk of dependency or any negative side effects.

    When my wife and I went out to buy different types of green tea, we found out quickly that many of the teas sold in retail stores weren’t of the best quality. They had minimal nutrition value, and they taste horrible, right? And so, we made the decision to make this work by learning as much as we could about green tea. The challenge was figuring out how to make it palatable for a nine-year-old struggling with ADHD. We wanted to ensure that every ingredient we blended with that green tea would assist him in that calm focus and not give him any ingredients that would make him hyper. So, we added things like lavender, lemon verbena, and lemongrass, things known to help with anxiety. Not only did it taste good, but it would serve the benefits we were looking for.

    Later my wife and I made the decision to move forward by starting a tea company and creating our own blends to share, with every ingredient geared toward the desired result.

    Dan: You recently added a line of canned tea using the cold brewing method. Will you talk about your reasoning?

    We first launched as a loose-leaf company. Our consumers said that one of their biggest hurdles was that they didn’t have the necessary equipment and skills to brew it the way the blends were designed to be brewed. With cans, we take the guesswork out of it for many consumers. The process of cold brewing lets us extract a lot of the flavor while reducing the astringency that often accompanies green tea and some black teas that are astringent due to high water temperatures and long brew times.

    We wanted to make sure that our tea delivered maximal flavor and maximal benefit and is a product that is shelf stable. One thing I learned while researching the cold brewing process is that it also helps reduce the amount of caffeine in each serving. Since the tea is marketed as safe for children, we wanted to keep the caffeine content to a minimum.*

    See: Tea Benefits Children Onward from Age 4

    Dan: What is the milligram content for caffeine in a typical 12-ounce can?

    Quentin: The green tea is about 18 milligrams, and the black tea is a little bit higher, closer to about 30 to 35 mg.

    Dan: So that’s about half of what you would find in a regular cup of tea.

    Quentin: Yes, exactly.

    Dan: You use adaptogens. You mentioned them in three new blends. Will you describe which adaptogens are present and how they benefit tea drinkers?

    Quentin: Absolutely. So, each tea has a different adaptogen. Our focus blend has Astragalus Root1, Our Recharge, black tea blend, has Ashwagandha2, and our Recover hibiscus blend, as Schisandra Berry3.

    Adaptogens are geared toward helping the body and the mind to fight off stress and to recover better from stress. And, you know, we’re in a space of COVID uncertainty, and people are potentially moving into a recession. In prioritizing our mental health, it’s important to figure out how we can mitigate and reduce as much stress as possible.

    Dan: In formulating the beverages, you chose all-natural, organic, full leaf teas and botanicals cold-brewed in small batches. Will you discuss sourcing?

    Quentin: Sourcing is of the utmost importance to us, right? We’re communicating directly with small farms and farmers, you know, all across the world.

    For us to create a USDA-certified organic product, every ingredient we use has to essentially fall under the same regulations as we do in America.

    We wanted to make sure that everything was sustainable, sustainably sourced, non-GMO organic, and had the highest quality.

    I often say that in America, tea hasn’t had its coffee moment yet. We don’t have a tea culture in America that has been, you know, stamped. And so a lot of the teas that I’ve had growing up are just very low quality, and just like any other crop that’s grown, right, if it’s not growing organically, there can be chemical compounds that are found in that crop that doesn’t necessarily serve the body. We firmly believe that everything we put into our bodies matters.

    The challenge was figuring out how to make it palatable for a nine-year-old struggling with ADHD. We wanted to make sure that every ingredient that we blended with that green tea would assist him in that calm focus and not give him any ingredients that would make him hyper.

    – Quentin Vennie

    Dan: The 12-pack has a $47 suggested price, about $4 per can. Tell us about your strategy for bringing the brand to people.

    Quentin: We just launched 100% online, through our website, direct-to-consumer. We are in talks with a few larger retailers and convenience stores. We plan to continue to grow and scale so that we can reduce the prices a little bit. We’re still a very small company, and it’s been a bit challenging with inflation. My goal is to grow this to be a national company. We really want to make wellness equitable and accessible.

    Dan: Finally, tell us the story about how you came to the attention of goop Founder & CEO Gwyneth Paltrow.

    Quentin: On social, we really connected with the work I was doing in the wellness space. She was a part of the initial ideation of the tea Company. She was one of the first people to try our blends, and she immediately fell in love with them. And, you know, our relationship just grew. She’s one of the most incredible human beings I’ve ever met.

    And she’s been incredibly supportive throughout this entire process.

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  • Adaptogens and Tea

    Our guest this week is Maria Uspenski, a cancer survivor, and author of Cancer Hates Tea. In 2004 Maria founded The Tea Spot, a tea wholesaler and teaware design company in Boulder, Colo. Join Herbal Collective Magazine publisher Marilyn Zink, as she discusses with Maria the importance to overall health of herbal adaptogens and their role in blends with tea, itself an adaptogen.

    Maria Uspenski on the role of adaptogens and tea

    Goddess Women's Teas
    Goddess Women’s Teas blended for women in three stages of life.

    The Beneficial Role of Adaptogens and Tea

    By Marilyn Zink | Herbal Collective Magazine

    The Tea Spot is a Public Benefit Corporation and Certified B Corp that donates 10% of all profits in-kind to cancer survivor and community wellness programs. To date the company has donated more than 10 million cups of tea through its 10% For Wellness pledge.

    Marilyn: Maria, will you tell us how herbal adaptogens got started and why?

    Maria Uspenski: Adaptogens were classified in 1950s by a Soviet scientist who was looking at ways to reduce stress for combat pilots that came from being in rapid fire combat, but also because of being at such high altitude and dealing with such intense sunlight.

    And I thought, wow, that’s super useful and something that could be good for me, and I started reading very intensely about this and then, when the pandemic hit, “I’m like wow, this is it. We really need to nurture people with something that can be supportive.”

    Our Adaptogenic Chai came out with literally 12 different strong adaptogens, and so these adaptogens have the ability to bring balance to your body, regardless of which direction the stressor is coming from.

    So let’s go back to that combat pilot for a moment, so he may have an incoming threat for which he needs his energy level to go up for where his system is responding from a low point. He needs to be brought up. The adaptogen will give him that boost, or say he’s just been shot at and is a little frazzled and needs to back down.  The Adaptogen can bring him down, so that’s referred to as a nonspecific response.

    That’s the first requirement for being an adaptogen. The response needs to be nonspecific, and that means it can either bring you up when needed. It can give you the lift when needed, or as we say,  it can give you a gentle kiss on the forehead.


    The next requirement for an adaptogen is that it needs to be a natural substance, so a plant. So generally, we use herbs, flowers of herbs or roots or mushrooms in our adaptogenic blends.

    And the third thing is that it needs to be otherwise non-harmful, not affecting other physiological biochemical processes in your body.

    So those are the three requirements.

    Camellia sinensis is a secondary adaptogen. Secondary adaptogens are adaptogens which will support the effect of other adaptogens in your body. It has a very magical amino acid called L theanine and that is very good at balancing mood.

    So, it’s not a primary adaptogen in that it will give you that big boost or bring you down when needed, but it offers kind of a supportive aspect of that.

    Things like ashwaganda, chaga mushroom, reishi mushrooms, dandelion root, and Rhodiola which is actually my favorite adaptogen, those are all very strong primary adaptogens.

    We just launched the Goddess Collection, a line of three teas to support women in different stages of their lives.

    Venus Rising is one for women when they’re going through their PMS, part of their menstruation cycle, and the adaptogens in that tea and interestingly licorice, which is a strong adaptogen, fennel and St. John’s Wort. There are other herbs to help with cramping and digestive relief, but those are the three primary adaptogens in that tea that help with mood and centering and balance.

    The second tea is for new moms, for lactation, and it’s called Mamahood. The primary adaptogens in that tea are fenugreek seeds and oatstraw with blessed thistle, and alfalfa blended with non-caffeinated red rooibos.

    The final tea, I am most excited about, is a lemongrass blend. Lemongrass is not an adaptogen, but the strong herbal adaptogens in that tea are black cohosh root, which Americans have used for women going through the menopause phase of life for many hundreds of years.

    Dong Quai, which is also known as Angelica sinensis, is a traditional Chinese medicine for the symptoms of menopause. Most of these are for hot flashes and vaginal dryness. So literally, you know they have fetal-estrogenic qualities, so these are not teas that women should be drinking when they’re pregnant.

    Polyphenols in Tea
    Polyphenols in tea. Illustration courtesy of The Tea Spot.

    Marilyn: When you say that people who are looking for tea now, they’re not thinking tea is just something to drink?

    Maria: There are people that just look to tea to get them warm and have a delicious beverage, but statistically speaking, in North America 76% of herbal tea purchases are for whatever function that herb can bring people.? 

    Marilyn: Is there a certain amount that someone needs to drink or certain frequency?

    Maria: That’s a very valid question, too much of any good thing is not a good thing, right?

    Adaptogens are classified as not having a negative effect on other functions. It’s using it daily for a certain amount of time. 

    We don’t instruct people to make decoctions, to cook these teas on the stove, but honestly, you’re better off cooking it because you are talking about roots, cloves. You want to hit herbs with boiling water or as hot as you can get it in whatever environment you’re living in. And if you have the time and you have the tea loose, cook it on the stove. 

    I like to take our adaptogenic Chai loose and cook it on the stove for 10 to 20 minutes. I like to cook it and then those roots and herbs just keep on giving.

    In my mind it brings me back to center. In reality, it probably does that only because I drink it daily or every other day. 

    Marilyn: You talk about adaptogenic herbs for women, what about for men? 

    Maria: My species obviously needs to reproduce, but I don’t need to reproduce today, tomorrow, yesterday, in order to make it to next week. Those hormones that I need, you know, pituitary, thyroid, those hormonal functions that are most important are not for women only.

    Digestion is one of the symptoms that comes out of hormonal digestive problems. A large part of what we help with is called belly pain and digestive issues as well, which of course concern men almost as often as they do women. 

    Digestive health is just as important for both genders. In our Adaptogenic Chai, organic maca root and Slippery Elm are two of our favorite ingredients. Slippery Elm is amazing for digestion.

    Adaptogens that target reproductive hormonal function have also been shown to be effective for prostate health as men age. 

    Adaptogenic Chai
    The ingredients in The Tea Spot’s Adaptogenic Chai include organic roasted dandelion root, organic chaga mushrooms, organic ashwagandha, organic rhodiola, organic cardamom seeds, organic cinnamon, organic slippery elm, cascara shells, organic ginger, organic raw cacao nibs, organic cloves, and organic maca root.

    Marilyn: Isn’t it wonderful when you think something as simple as tea can be so healing for people.

    Maria: It’s fantastic. The biggest impact is when a customer will reach out and say, ” ‘you know, your teas and drinking them regularly has really changed my life.’ ” 

    The Tea Spot
    The Tea Spot blends a full line of functional whole leaf teas

    Empowering Wellness

    Loose leaf tea became an integral part of my recovery from cancer and continues to be a key component of my daily health regimen. The simple act of preparing loose tea is likely just as therapeutic as the tea itself. It gives me great joy to be able to share this with others and I am continually inspired by the people who courageously and actively fight to survive.

    The Tea Spot is committed to spreading health and wellness through whole leaf tea — every day. The company crafts teas of exceptional quality and designs innovative Steepware that empower people to lead healthier lives. Our customer community actively participates in this mission through our 10% For Wellness. As a “Best for the World” certified B Corp, our company is recognized for infusing the goodness of tea in communities near and far.

    Maria Uspenski, CEO & ovarian cancer survivor

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