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NaJoWriMo and Tea 101 - Tranquil Vibes and a NeurodiversiTEA Connection


Mohawkmomma Soul Podcast Season 5

(Links are always at the end of the post to help you stay focused)


Note: National Journal Writing Month (NaJoWriMo) occurs four times a year: 1st day of January, April, July, and October.


You may be familiar with National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November.


But around these soul care parts, I get real excited for National Journal Writing Month (NaJoWriMo) especially during the month of April, not only is it my birthday month, it's National Autism Acceptance Month—my birthday lands on World Autism Awareness Day.


I integrate my tea brewing + drinking fascination with various forms of journaling, prayer, and meditation as an act of revolutionary rest. More than anything, tea reminds me of the holy process we go through in our transformation, personally + collectively.


Consider this your Tea 101 mini-course infused with soul care along with its health benefits, below, I dive into the relationship between tea drinking + neurodivergent brains. You might wanna take notes, screenshots, or bookmark this resource to return to throughout the year.


Tea brewing + drinking is a rhythmic and embodied soul care practice. There's an art + science to it. So let's talk about our nighttime rituals around tea, first. We all have nighttime rituals—consciously + unconsciously. If you would allow me to get a bit nosey in your nighttime beverage business (as if I need permission to get curious). So what's in your cup an hour and a half or two before bed?


Annnd... Is that evening beverage ritual helping you transition from the day's alertness to advocating for your wellbeing as you prepare to sleep?


Sleep offers our bodies the chance to:


rest and repair

replenish energy levels

identify and enhance relevant recent learning

reset emotional responses

help our immune systems


Our preparation doesn't have to work against our body's nervous system + circadian rhythm. There are small, empowering choices—like what we drink leading up to bedtime—that help you along the journey. (Yes, even if you are knee-deep in the nocturnal world of caring for a newborn, working a night shift, etc.)


Since healthy, evening hydration plays a role in our transformative rest, let's imbibe with our vitality in view.


Caffeine, Wine, & Warm Water

SOULjourner, if you are taking in caffeine, it will extend your alertness by blocking the chemical messenger adenosine, a neurotransmitter that causes that sleepy feeling.


If you prefer to pour a glass of wine each night, it may allow you to fall asleep quickly, however drinking alcohol causes disruptions in the sleep cycle. Studies have shown that drinking alcohol before bed suppresses REM sleep and decreases the quality of your sleep.


Drinking warm lemon water will improve your blood circulation. Lemons have powerful antioxidant properties that can help manage symptoms of inflammation. And it helps your body control food cravings.


Whatever you're drinking, you wanna choose a hot beverage to relax + soothe your body.


Besides hot lemon water, my favorite go-to green tea is Hojicha (also Houjicha)—milled in the same style as Matcha. However, Houjicha is a milder, caramelly brew with significantly less caffeine and nearly as much antioxidant power. It integrates beautifully with milk (or milk alternative).


Houjicha is also rich in theanine, which supports the relaxation effect on your mind, body, and brain. Not only rich in theanine, but Houjicha also is particularly rich in a component called pyrazine produced by the roasting process. The unique toasty aroma comes from pyrazine and works to relax the brain with it. - Rico McConnell, Japanese native

* a photo of my early, evening Houjicha tea (with dairy-free milk), near my laptop.


Making tea is a ritual + meditative experience—everything about tea making, from the aroma to the steam, welcomes you to notice + nurture + embody its soothing, hospitable comfort.


Green tea is especially rejuvenating. It holds second place to water, as the most popular beverage worldwide. Beyond its soothing, tranquil effects, there are many benefits green tea offers; some say it helps them get better sleep (I can testify to that). Studies have also reported its role in stress reduction, and overall longevity.


I want to call our attention to something essential here. Make no mistake about it, you get to permit yourself to tweak + stumble through your evening rituals. Be compassionate. Be consistent. Be flexible. Be aware as you guard your heart from an all-or-nothing approach.


One of the ways I guard my heart is to engage my rituals as experiments that give me feedback, not the promise of flawless execution. This is liberating grace.



Engage Your Five Senses - Make It A Nighttime Sabbathing Ritual

Begin your countdown within an hour and a half to two hours prior to bed. You don't wanna be up peeing all night or washing your face so close to bedtime that you basically transfer it onto your pillow.


For your evening sabbathing experience: aim for simplicity bundled into sensual-infused, slow, somatic pleasures, which will help you release the day's stress and receive the evening's soothe. The sequence does matter—release to make space to receive.


Release to make space to receive


Taste + Smell the tranquility of Houjicha tea and/or warm lemon water (I do both). Savor + sip slowly.


Touch your face and neck tenderly with a smile + clean hands for your evening skincare cleansing. Bless her, instead of blaming her. Slowly slip into lounge wear that keeps your body cool (or sleep naked, if possible - it's great for blood circulation for your heart + muscles).


Hear an evening affirmation on my Mohawkmomma Soul podcast, a sound bath by Gaby Lassiter, or down-tempo music like this phenomenal version of His Eye Is on the Sparrow, by Infinity Song, led by Victory Boyd—a stunning vibe that you'll want to keep on repeat.



See + celebrate your body's beauty and integrative wisdom—gently stretch her by candlelight (to remind her of her luminous glow) or in a soft-lit room, while inviting deep breathing to loosen tension—even for five minutes. She's worthy. She's worthy. She's worthy. She's worthy. She's worthy. She's worthy. She's worthy. She's worthy. She's worthy. She's worthy. She's worthy. She's worthy. She's worthy.


She's worthy


Whichever healing beverage (and other evening sabbathing rituals) brings us home to notice + nurture + embody our belovedness will always be within our reimagining reach as we recognize our holy, intrinsic worth—personally + collectively.

 

Daytime tea time we use to support our neurodivergence


We're a *neurodiverse family: autism, dyslexia, ADHD, dyscalculia, and a range of other neurodiverse lived experiences. I'm a *neurodivergent human with many brain + life wirings + enhancements that require nurturing my accommodations as a writer, indie pastor, artist, wife, mother of eight+, and eldest child...


And one of those accommodations happens to be brewing + drinking tea.


As I continue to research + ARTvocate for myself and my family, tea continues to be part of the journey—it began when I was a little girl with my mother's tea influence and her neuro needs. I'm not an expert in the neurodivergence field—it is enough for me to be an expert on ME + my family. Having stated that I only share what I've observed + implemented in my life and the lives of our family members.


Please do not use my research + opinions as your medical or legal consultation.


Keeping with my opinion, the healing vitality of tea is right up there with meaningful human connection, a great care team, food nutrition, and supplements for brain/body/emotional regulation + thriving.


The Connection Between Tea + Autism

Particularly, there's a fairly new study around GABA Oolong tea + autism— it turns out that Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC) folks have much lower GABA levels in their brains than other brains.


This is due to structural + functional differences in the parts of the brain that produce GABA as well as a likelihood that the conversion process of Glutamate to GABA is impaired in Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC) people. Therefore, the sensory overloading in people with Autism is likely to be related to this reduced GABA, and supplementing with GABA may be useful.


GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is a neurotransmitter that helps to balance out hyperreactivity in the brain and has been implicated in the control of conditions such as anxiety and sleep disorders. GABAergic neurons are thought to have a crucial role in emotional processing and sensory discrimination and this may impact motor skills.


Since GABA is the main neurotransmitter for reducing over-excitability, it stands to reason to figure out how GABA is involved. It is worth trying to supplement with a few cups of GABA tea every day. Some of the observable differences we've experienced have mainly been sleeping, and reduced levels of cortisol (reduced stress + anxiety).


GABA from Within

If you are still a menstrual wombman: didya know that during the latter part of your luteal phase, leading up to your period, progesterone increases to create a natural calm state in preparation for shedding and naturally stimulates GABA?


Progesterone does not vibe with cortisol. So if your cortisol is high, progesterone will be low, which can interfere with your period. To sync with your feminine flow during this recovery time requires less output, essentially, "saying no more" until you reemerge in your next menstrual phase—follicular.


Does Oolong Have Caffeine?

Perhaps you’re wondering: does oolong have caffeine? The short answer is yep, oolong tea does contain caffeine. The leaves are semi-oxidized to a level between that of green and black teas. Oolong tea's caffeine content is a bit higher than that of green tea, and a bit less than black—typically about 50-75 mg of caffeine per 8 oz. cup. As a comparison, an 8 oz. cup of coffee holds about 91 mg of caffeine.


This is why you wanna partake of GABA Oolong throughout the daytime.


Good To Know Odds + Ends

- The world of tea is vast. You can find non-caffeinated herbal teas like peppermint, hibiscus (sorrel), chamomile, ginger, etc. Then, there are teas that come from the Camellia sinensis plant: black teas, white teas, green teas, and other varieties. Of them, green tea takes center stage for being high in antioxidants and giving the brain a boost in cognition.


- For caffeinated teas, keep in mind that the longer your tea is steeped, the higher the caffeine content will be. Each time the tea is re-steeped, the caffeine content will lessen.


- Once you brush your teeth, you wanna wait thirty minutes after brushing before drinking tea or any beverage because brushing, although beneficial, makes the enamel temporarily vulnerable.


- For younger children, brew 2-3 minutes.


- You never want to squeeze into your water, the tea leaves (loose or in a bag). Squeezing can release bitter compounds + tannins from the tea leaves, making the tea taste overly strong or astringent. It's generally better to repeatedly dunk the leaves several times initially to disburse the molecules for a smoother + more balanced flavor.


- Although not all types of tea stain your teeth, certain teas can stain your teeth more than others. This is due to the staining components theaflavins (a compound in black tea that is formed from the fermentation of green tea), thearubigins (the brown pigment in black tea), and theabrownins (macromolecular pigments with reddish-brown color and mellow taste), which may all be present in a typical cup of tea. The stronger the tea, the greater the power of these tea components to stain your teeth.


Tea has large concentrations of tannins, which may cause tooth discoloration by forming plaque on your teeth, which makes your teeth yellow.


Both black and fruit teas can cause discoloration of your teeth. Enamel is porous by nature, and it may absorb tannins from your tea which may result in a brown discoloration.


Black tea

Black tea, although not my favorite, is beneficial to your health. It contains antioxidant characteristics, and there are studies that show black tea may improve heart health, decrease blood pressure, and lower blood sugar levels.


However, with its high tannin content, black tea is known to stain teeth more than other types of tea. Our teeth naturally discolor and stain over time, but black tea may accelerate staining significantly faster.


The oxidation stage is what gives black tea its characteristic color and flavor, and it's what distinguishes it from green and white teas in terms of taste + appearance.


Green tea

Green tea does not stain your teeth as much as black tea. Still, when consumed often, it is a leading cause of tooth discoloration.


White tea

White tea is a great alternative for tea lovers who want to experience the tea taste without the stains. White tea is lighter in color and without the compounds that produce stains.


Don't get it twisted and assume that simply because it's light in color means it's lacking in flavor. White tea, like black and green tea, is made from the same plant.


Peppermint tea

Peppermint tea's energizing taste makes it popular, particularly during the winter when it provides a warm + inviting sensation. People may be surprised to learn that peppermint tea is unlikely to stain teeth, making it a great tea choice. It may only cause minor stains when you drink it in large quantities.


Compared to other beverages like coffee, black tea, or red wine, peppermint tea is significantly less likely to produce visible stains.


Herbal tea

Alright, I know you've been wondering about the "tea" on herbal teas... herbal tea's ability to stain teeth is mostly determined by the kind of herbal tea consumed. Because most herbal teas are “tisanes” rather than real tea varieties, they do not discolor teeth. However, the higher the tisane's acid + tannin content and its brew strength, the more likely it is to stain teeth.


In summary

Here are some types of teas that won't stain teeth, or will only leave slight discoloring if heavily consumed:

  • White tea

  • Peppermint tea

  • Rooibos tea

  • Yerba Mate


Some tips on how to prevent tea stains on teeth

Try some of the following tips to prevent and get rid of tea stains on your teeth:

  • Before + after drinking black tea, drink water and immediately rinse your mouth with water once finished. The primary purpose is to remove any remaining dark-colored liquid that may be stuck between the teeth.

  • Limit your tea intake. You will notice more serious stains if you consume black tea regularly. The easiest strategy to limit the amount of staining is to drink less black tea.

  • Drink different teas. Green, white, and peppermint teas stain less than black tea.

  • Brush and floss regularly. At least twice a day, once in the morning and once at night, brush and floss your teeth. Brushing and flossing after drinking any dark-colored beverage is also a good idea.

  • Increase your intake of abrasive foods. Abrasive or crunchy foods may aid in the removal of tannins. Apples, cucumbers, carrots, celery, radishes, and rice crackers are examples of abrasive foods to include.

  • Make use of a straw when drinking cold tea. When drinking black tea, another alternative is to use a straw. This will prevent the tannins from coming into contact with the front of the tooth, preventing surface discoloration.


Shop The 'Not Typical' Collection

I'm bringing awareness + bridging the conversation gap for neurodiverse, Black families, especially Black mommas who often go invisible + under supported due to intersectionality of alllll the things.




 


Until next time,


Scribble. Speak. From your soul.

 

Terms


*neurodiversity: describes the neurological diversity that exists with humanity: the different ways people process + think + experience life. Differences that are on a neurological (nervous system + brain), physical + emotional level.


*neurodivergent: describes the divergence from the "standard norm" or "standard typical" way of being +processing + thinking. This standard is an illusion. Chiiile, there is no norm. A neurodivergent brain is physically wired differently - there's a different amount of neurons to process information, which causes overstimulation.


Another thought about neurodiversity + disability: You can't "have" autism, ADHD, dyslexia, etc., it's a neurological wiring with various traits. What causes the disability is the system that accommodates + incentivizes folks that process a specific type of way.


This systemization of marginalization creates an inequitable environment, which causes the disability not the neurology.


Also Good to Know:


Kassiane Asasumasu is the autism rights activist who is credited for coining several terms related to the Neurodiversity Movement, including caregiver benevolence), neurodivergent, and neurodivergence.


Autism, Cerebal Palsey, MS, mental health disabilities, seizures and more, diverge from being considered NT (neurotypical).

 

Judy Singer, an Australian sociologist, first used the term neurodiversity in her sociology honors thesis in 1998.


April 2 #worldautismawarenessday (April 2nd is also my birthday)

 

Links For Further Discovery


Studies on black tea


Shop with Soul in the Boutique



Studies have also reported its role in stress reduction, and overall longevity.



Rico McConnell's Houjicha 101


The Sleep Foundation - Alcohol + sleep


How much sleep do we really need?


About the circadian rhythm


American Academy of Sleep Medicine - Caffeine + sleep

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