Until we relocated to the Upper Midwest where it gets uncomfortably cold during extra long (or so it seems) winters, coffee was our family’s beverage of choice. Hot tea? Never! Iced tea? Sometimes. Herbal tea? Are you kidding?! That’s all changed now. Mornings/early afternoons are dedicated to coffee-drinking; mid-afternoons and beyond belong to herbal teas.
Why the about-face? A heavy chest cold significantly relieved by a pot of herbal tea with honey and fresh lemon enlightened me to tea’s powers. Experiencing that deep-down funky feeling is all it takes, sometimes, to cozy up to the unfamiliar; in this case, herbal teas.
Now that we’ve arrived, I ask, What’s not to like? Herbal teamakers like Traditional Medicinals, Yogi, Choice Organic Teas formulate countless tea combinations that speak to certain symptoms – colds and flu, PMS, insomnia, stress, and other maladies too numerous to mention. (As home remedies. For serious stuff, get thee to a health care professional!)
For quite a while, teabags were our preferred method of enjoying tea. Loose tea, the alternative, just seemed so…messy. Can be. Exercise a little TLC and voila! a whole world of tea possibilities will open up to you. At the moment, I’m sipping anise tea brewed from crushed seeds in that darling glass teapot you see in the photo. Anise is a good choice to help with digestion and congestion (Source: Earl Mindell’s New Herb Bible). Dr. Mindell suggests drinking one to three cups per day.
Our Asian friends have been devoted tea-drinkers ad infinitum. Americans of whatever background have become pretty faithful tea-drinkers, as well. That’s such a smart move on our part! Lots of good things await us when we head to the teapot for warm comfort. Like stronger immune systems. So says Dr. Jack F. Bukowski of the Harvard Medical School in his study in 2003, published in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”
And this. The Tea Association of the USA blew me away recently with these numbers: Americans drank 65 billion servings of tea in 2011! That’s astounding, don’t you think?Well over half of those cups were brewed from teabags. The Tea Association also says loose tea use is on the upswing.
How to pick a tea
Ask yourself what you want the tea to do for you. A couple of the benefits of Tulsi tea (also called Holy Basil, and, in India, it’s known as the “queen of herbs”) are to reduce stress and balance energy levels. It tastes pretty good, too.
To help melt away extra body fat, our go-to is oolong. We like it with a bit of honey added.
Chamomile tea is light, soothing, a good choice before bedtime, and it’s very tasty. Among its other bennies, Dr. Mindell writes that it has traditionally served as a remedy for rheumatoid arthritis. Anciently, Egyptians have enjoyed chamomile, and, 400 years ago, Europeans got into the chamomile tea-drinking habit. BUT Dr. Mindell sounds the warning for ragweed sufferers. You might want to skip the chamomile.
- Trap in the tea’s volatile oils – they’re what make the tea so beneficial – by covering the cup with a saucer while the tea steeps.
- Herbal teas, like Tulsi and chamomile, are made from the roots or flowers of herbs. Green and black teas, and ones in between like oolong, come from tea leaves, not herbs.
and a tip…
- Any time of the year, herbal teas make great hostess gifts, or teacher gifts. Or, for just about any occasion when you’re gifting a tea drinker, make a gift basket of a couple kinds of tea, a jar of honey, and a honey dip.
There’s much to know and love about tea. Start by educating yourself with this very informative glossary of terms. Then pick your tea, and start sipping!