My mother loves tea, and when I say love, I mean she really loves tea. She has even created a little tea corner in our living room where she can host anyone and everyone with a cup of tea filled with love, flavour and perhaps even a little something sweet on the side. She has introduced me to so many different flavours and brands, and it seems herbal tea has become quite a phenomenon around the world. Margaret Roberts, also known as the first lady of herbs, has written a book on herbal teas “60 Teas to Revitalise and Restore”. My mother even got her book signed by Margaret! In this book, she explains the history and detail of herbal teas extensively. It has inspired me to grow my own plants and flowers so that I can make my own herbal tea, and it has been quite an exciting journey.
What is tea?
Tea is a hot beverage made from fresh or dried leaves or a combination of the two. It can also have spices, fruits or juices added to it. The ingredients in herbal tea can assist with your health in a variety of ways. The earliest recorded tea usage was in 350 AD, when a Chinese dictionary, Erh Ya, cited tea for the first time.
For Western drinkers, tea made of the dried leaves is probably the most popular version. This is probably because black tea blends are more suited for adding milk and sugar. The Chinese Plant is used to produce different tea varieties like Assam, Darjeeling and Nilgiri. Ceylon tea is known to originate from Sri Lanka and is a light tea with a citrus undertone. There are three common black teas that Western drinkers enjoy worldwide and that includes English Breakfast, Earl Grey and Irish Breakfast.
A wonderful and aromatic tea experience is to infuse your hot water with fresh or dried herbs, spices, roots, seeds or flowers. Herbal infused teas are mostly caffeine-free and are quite an experience to have. It’s not just an ordinary commercial drink.
Important information with regards to herbs
It is always advisable to consult your doctor before you start a treatment at home. Herbal teas should not replace your doctor or any medication you are taking. To be on the safe side, always use one individual herb at a time as mixing the herbs often reduces their efficacy. Even though it is advisable to drink just one cup of a specific herbal tea a day, you can drink numerous cups of different herbal teas throughout the day. When you have the flu or a cold, you can drink the specific herbal teas suggested for that illness about three to four times daily to ease the condition. Under normal conditions, it is advised to take only one kind of herbal tea a day for no more than 10 days, then take a break for about three to four days, and continue by repeating this pattern.
The power of herbs is much stronger than we think, and it can accumulate in the body. When you drink a variety of herbal teas and do so in moderation, you know you are taking good care your body, health and beauty.
Please don’t use any plant as a tea if you are not 100 percent certain of its identification as many plants are poisonous. In some cases certain parts of a plant may be edible, but other parts may be poisonous. If there is any doubt, rather don’t use it until you have confirmation that it is safe to do so.
Here are a few ideas of herbal teas you can make from your own garden. The health benefits of each tea are phenomenal and worth it to try.
One of the world’s favourite herbal teas is chamomile. People have been drinking chamomile tea since the 4thcentury and from the 14thcentury onwards chamomile was registered as a medicine. Chamomile has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic components. It has a very calming and soothing effect and it helps you to unwind. It’s a great tea to drink at night before you go to bed to relieve stress, help treat insomnia, tension and worry. It is also a fantastic digestive. To make a lovely cup of chamomile tea pour boiling water over a quarter cup of fresh flowers or slightly less of dried flowers. Let it stand for about five minutes, stir it well, strain and enjoy. You can add some raw honey if you prefer it a little sweeter.
Strangely enough the plant we dislike in our gardens has wonderful medicinal properties. The leaves and the flowers of this plant are found to have anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting properties. Historically clover tea was given to treat bronchitis, whooping coughs, arthritis, gout, chronic coughs, psoriasis, eczema and postnasal drip. To make clover tea, pour boiling water over a quarter cup of fresh leaves and flowers, leave it to stand for about five minutes, then strain and enjoy.
Mint is a very popular and respected herb around the world. It was found in sacred burial sites in the pyramids and temples dating back to before 1000 BC in vials and urns. There are numerous varieties of mint but they all have the same health benefits. Their key actions are: antispasmodic, antiseptic, digestive and analgesic. Mint can increase sweating which helps to detoxify the body and can help cleanse the liver. Drinking mint tea is an easy and tasty way to ease heartburn, flatulence, colic, nausea and even headaches and migraines. Peppermint will help soothe and calm nerves (good during exam season), and can also help you stay alert, focused and improve memory. Spearmint can also help relieve tension, digest very spicy and rich food and when cooled, mint tea added to your bath water can help cleanse the body. To make the tea, use any of the mint variations, pour a cup of boiling water over a quarter cup fresh stems, let it stand for five minutes, strain and sip slowly. Sipping slowly will enhance the digestive aspect. You can add raw honey to sweeten it or maybe some lemon juice for variety.
Jasmine is one of the world’s most loved plants and has a superb fragrance that is inviting and beautiful. The genus of Jasminumcontains about 200 different species. This ancient plant has been used for centuries to make a soothing tea, and due to its therapeutic effects, it is often added to normal tea. For the scenting and flavouring of Chinese and Indian teas, the fresh flowers (not the leaves) are used. Jasmine tea helps for depression, indigestion, anxiety and tension. You can use six flowers to a cup of boiling water, leave it to stand for three minutes, add a squeeze of lemon juice and sip slowly. You can even chew the flowers to taste the valuable oil. However, if you are pregnant, please avoid jasmine tea.
As there are multiple herbal teas to make from your own garden, I would suggest you start trying some and see which ones you like most. You might be pleasantly surprised that you enjoy a flavour you never expected. Drinking just one cup of herbal tea daily can enhance your health and cleanse your body. Prevention is always better than cure so treat yourself and your loved ones with a fresh cup of homemade herbal tea. Visit Margaret Roberts’ herbal centre for more information or purchase her book for recipes.