Remember Peter Rabbit? After a day pilfering the farmer’s cabbages, Peter had a tummy-ache. So, what did his mum do? Gave him a nice cup of chamomile tea, and sent him to bed. Well, this remedy works for people as well as rabbits! Want to learn more? Then read on…
Second to water, tea is the most popular drink on the planet. Yes, even more popular than coffee! Tea has been around for years and is considered one of the world’s oldest beverages. It warms you up when you are cold, comforts when stressed, energises when you need a pick-me-up, and tastes good too! And currently, is one of the trendiest drinks, gaining popularity with the rich and famous.
What is Tea?
There are two major branches of tea, the ‘herbal’ variety and ‘real’ teas. The difference? Herbal teas contain no tea. Herbal teas are made only with brewed herbs. Real or true tea is made from the leaves of the tea bush, Camelia sinensis. Real teas include oolong, black and green. Herbal teas may be made with hundreds of different herbs–alone or mixed together to form blends. The third type of tea available, and this often confuses people, is flavored tea. Flavored teas very often contain a mixture of black tea and herbs or oils. For example, one of my favourite teas is Earl Grey; a blend of black tea and oil of bergamot.
“Tea – the cups that cheer but not inebriate.” William Cowper
Tea time has never been so good… All tea offers health benefits. You just have to pick the right one for what ails you. Black, green and oolong teas offer you a dose of flavonoids, which some scientists believe lower our risk of cancer and heart disease. Flavonoids help to protect our body cells from free radicals, which destroy body cells. Is that why us tea drinkers look younger than coffee drinkers?
Name that tea!
Orange pekoe – your regular black tea. Not an actual type of tea, but a cut of leaf. Small pieces of tea to make it quick and strong. Darjeeling – delicate black tea. The tea of choice for those of us who do not like a strong, dark cup. Known as the champagne of teas!
English Breakfast (or Scottish, or Irish) robust black tea. Good as a ‘pick-me-up’, either in the morning or in the afternoon.
Green tea – subtle and fresh, as long as you don’t over steep. Often served in Chinese and other Asian restaurants, this tea is currently the tea of choice for health and well-being.
Oolong – more delicate than orange pekoe in flavor and color.
All the above teas contain some caffeine. A general rule is the stronger the tea the more caffeine. So these teas do work to lift your mood, and cannot be consumed willy-nilly before bedtime.
Obviously the benefits derived from herb teas depend on which herb the tea is made with. A really simple way to enjoy herbal tea is to pick fresh herbs from the garden, pop them in a teapot and add boiling water. Steeping time depends on the herbs, but between 5 and 20 minutes is a guideline. Sip and see if it’s ready for you.If you are new to drinking herb teas, you probably will not like the idea of drinking something that tastes too ‘twiggy’. So, let’s start with a few ‘beginner’ herbal teas:
Peppermint – good hot or cold, this refreshing tea is gentle on the digestive tract and therefore very suitable after dinner. Use cold peppermint tea bags on your forehead to sooth a headache—lie down and relax for 20 minutes.
Chamomile – another herb tea that works hot or cold and is good for the digestive tract. Some people find this tea very sweet, and it has long been recommended for children. Only thing to watch is allergies to members of the asteracea family. If you use teabags, save them and when they are cool, lie down and put them on your eyes…any puffieness is reduced and after 10 minutes your eyes will feel refreshed.
Lemon Balm – This herb grows easily in the garden and can be made by filling a mason jar with herbs and covering with water. Leave on your windowsill in the morning and come home to a cu’ of “sun tea’. Lemon balm has a gentle lemon taste that is refreshing and uplifting without caffeine. Putting the herb in your bath along with some Epsom salts will help to soften your skin.
Rosehip – Fruity tasting herb tea available in tea bags, high in the favonoids mentioned earlier and Vitamin C. This was often given to babies in the UK as a dietary supplement. I guess we had to start drinking tea at some time!
If you would like more information on how herbs can be introduced into your diet to help your health, please call me for an appointment at 206.201.2764.
Happy Tea Drinking!