The Great Tea Conspiracy

Is there a tea conspiracy?

Yes, a tea conspiracy. No, I’m not talking about the Tea Party. I’m referring to the health benefits of Green, Black, and Oolong Tea and the relative lack of support by government regulators and American health officials. Let’s break it down.

The National Cancer Institute acknowledges that tea contains Polyphenols which are antioxidants. These are well-researched to be related to cancer prevention. In addition, Green tea has been tangentially linked to a host of health benefits. For a good starting point, visit the University of Maryland’s page dedicated to Green tea. On this page, it describes multiple times when the FDA has prevented tea makers from using statements regarding the health benefits. I’m about to go out on a limb here and discuss some of the reasons why.

First, many studies regarding the health benefits of Green tea and other teas have been conducted. One of the main inconsistencies is how the tea is brewed: how long it steeps, temperature, what kind of water is used, etc. Because of this, it could be difficult for blanket statements to be made about the effectiveness of tea if one way of preparation trumps another. So far, I have not seen a study that attempts to find the best methods of brewing to maximize polyphenol content or the compound EGCG (the most active polyphenol in Green tea). It is because of things like this lack of creditable research that the National Cancer Institute and other organizations cannot advocate drinking tea as a cancer prevention tool.

Second, and I’m really going out on a limb here, what could the FDA gain from allowing these statements on Green tea labels? I recently bought 100 packets of Green tea on Amazon for $14.39 at a cost of 14 cents a packet. Big Pharma has lobbyists in Washington that protect their interests (see: making a profit). We know this. Big drug companies don’t want a product as cheap and ubiquitous as tea to eat away at their bottom line when they can come out with a drug that essentially does the same thing as green tea but costs the consumer 1,000 or 2,000 percent more. That is the real reason I think we will not see health statements on tea packages anytime soon.

Tea has been in use in India and China for thousands of years. If even 1% of the proposed health benefits of drinking tea (green in particular) are well-founded, we would be fools not to drink a few cups a day. It’s cheap, it’s accessible, and there haven’t been any studies that have proven a downside to drinking it (at least that I’ve found; please comment if you can find one). If a product has no downside and a huge potential upside, I say go for it. The best thing about it is that it doesn’t matter who you are, you can afford to drink it. It would cost less than $50 a year to have a cup a day. Most people spend more than double that on Bottled Water. Water!

In conclusion, if you are in a position at a University or Research Laboratory to run a study on the health benefits of Green tea or the effectiveness of various brewing methods, please do so. I would love to hear about it and will be glad to post any findings, regardless of the outcome, on my blog. I’m fully prepared to eat my words should the health benefits of tea be ill-founded. Until then, I’m going to continue drinking it regularly.

Are you a tea drinker? What kind is your favorite and why? I’m currently hooked on Morrocan Mint Green Tea from Stash. Do you think there is a tea conspiracy afoot to limit the wording available for tea producers in favor of prescription medications?

Science Sunday: Tesla to Create Batteries to Power Home

Science Sunday: Tesla to Create Batteries to Power Home

Tesla’s earnings may have disappointed, but what Elon Musk said in passing could change the way our power grid works.  Seriously, the implications of this are huge.  Musk said, “Some will be like the Model S pack: something flat, 5 inches off the wall, wall-mounted, with a beautiful cover, an integrated bi-directionl inverter, and plug and play.” Apparently a fully charged cell could power a typical home for a week.  A week!  Think about that.  If there was a power outage on the grid, almost all of them are fixed within a week.  But that’s not where things get interesting.

This isn’t just some off-the-cuff statement.  This is actually happening.  Musk said that about 30% of the Gigafactory being constructed near Reno, Nevada will be dedicated just to this function and they’re in talks with utility companies to discuss terms (on a side note, it’s possible the Gigafactory will be completed in 2016, rather than 2017).  Anyone familiar with Nikola Tesla‘s headbutting that occurred between him and the utility companies of his day will get a kick out of this.

So, what is Tesla Motors, an electric car company, doing in the utility business?  Musk also started SolarCity, a solar power company.  His cousin is the current CEO and Musk is the Chairman of the Board.  If you have SolarCity’s panels on your roof, they can power your home and store excess electricity in the Tesla battery, which you can use to power your home or charge your Tesla car.  It’s beginning to become one big circle.

Consumers should embrace this advance in technology because it not only makes sense, it will save them money.  Customers lease their roof space out to SolarCity, so there’s no cost to it.  Currently, you only pay a minimal amount to the utility company for power during night hours and some extra fees. Overall you still pay far less for your utilities. As long as you don’t mind the aesthetic of a solar panel on your roof (which I think looks like the future and is awesome), then there’s really no downside. Admittedly, this model works better in the Southwest and places that get more direct sunlight. In the future, we need to harness every bit of power we can as the population of the planet balloons.

I think we’ll get a lot smarter as a collective people and start implementing more ideas such as this. Something I’ve always been fascinated by since I first saw it mentioned is Vertical Farming. I’ve used this concept to some extent in my writing because it not only makes sense, but I think it will become a necessity as an estimated 80% of the world’s population will live in Urban areas by 2050. By that time I expect our abilities to increase crop yields and create these ingenious urban farming practices. Those buildings might just be powered by solar panels by SolarCity or a similar company and store power in batteries created at the Gigafactory.

I’ll leave you with this: if Tesla’s Gigafactory isn’t a flop (which I don’t think it will be), and SolarCity continues to expand, how will our power grids change and who stands to make out? Do you think this news is overstated or do you think it will truly change how we get power in this country and potentially the world? I’d love to hear your comments and thoughts!

UPDATE 5/1/2015: Tesla Energy has been announced. Tesla will create batteries to power homes and businesses at a starting cost of about $3000 for home use and more for the product known as the ‘power wall.’

Free Short Story, My Gift To You For Now And Forever

Free Short Story, My Gift To You For Now And Forever

Short StoryFree Short Story

Now, you can read my short story Replica anytime, anywhere, absolutely free.  Head over to Smashwords and download your free copy in .epub, .mobi, .pdf, .doc, .rtf, and more.

In the year 2054, Army Sergeant Logan Martel hunts for an insurgent plotting a horrific attack on the West. It is in this world of high-tech equipment and prolific robotics that Logan finds himself set adrift, searching for what’s left of his own humanity. Will he find what he’s looking for? Or will he become merely a replica of his former self?

If you like what you read I encourage you to write a review on any of your favorite retailer’s websites or give it a quick rating on goodreads.

Note: Amazon is still selling Replica for $0.99 but I expect them to price match soon.  Don’t let this stop you from rating it though!