By Naini Setalvad
Herbal teas are refreshing drinks that also have medical benefits
There is nothing like a refreshing cuppa, but did you know that what you drink could help your health? It is true, but it does depend on what sort of tea you choose! Herbal tea is surging in popularity thanks to the positive publicity surrounding herbal tea benefits and the vast array of delectable flavours available to consumers.
Herbs have been in use for centuries as remedies for various ailments and drinking infusions is a great way of gaining the benefits. For most of us, using readymade, loose and teabag blends offers a much more accessible and user-friendly option than having to hunt down and pick the required herbs, and it means they are ready at hand when we need them. As a bonus, most are caffeine-free and low in calories, and many are available in organic versions too. There are special blends of tea for specific purposes, such as helping sore throats or helping improve a stomach problem. As well as being great to have hot, you can also drink herbal teas cold, in the same way as iced tea or coffee. Just brew as normal, and then leave to cool and serve with ice.
Herbal infusions look like tea and are brewed in boiling water like tea – yet they do not come from the Camellia sinensis bush, the plant from which all teas come.
Instead, tisanes or herbal infusions are made from mixtures of dried leaves, seeds, grasses, nuts, barks, fruits, flowers or other botanicals that give them their taste and contribute to an array of folk and researched-based herbal tea benefits.
Here are some of the benefits of suggested herbal teas when consumed on a daily basis.
•Achieve a more calm, relaxed state of mind
•Support heart health
•Aid with stomach and digestive problems
•Provide cleansing properties for the body
•Promote energy and wellness
The medicinal benefits available are many, ranging from refreshing pick-me-ups and relaxing soothers, to extra help for digestion, sleep and your immune system. So, pick carefully, or choose a selection in readiness for every health need!
Chamomile tea: Chamomile has a reputation for soothing the digestive tract. This is through its action as a muscle relaxant– it lessens tension in the gastro-intestinal tract. Therefore, chamomile tea is a good one to use after a meal. It also encourages restful sleep.
Peppermint tea:Peppermint can be a stronger muscle relaxant than chamomile, so again it is useful to drink after a meal. It is also ‘anti-emetic’, which means that if you have nausea for any reason, it tends to calm this. If you find the taste too strong, then make it very, very weak – and you may then find it pleasant. Aid your digestion at the end of a meal with a freshly brewed cup of peppermint tea. It is also extremely refreshing when chilled!
Tulsi tea:It is one of India’s most sacred herbs because of its health benefits and healing properties. Tulsi tea’s antioxidants protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals that facilitate the cause and progression of various types of degenerative diseases. Also referred to as holy basil tea, this herbal brew’s adaptogens serve as powerful anti-stress agents that guard your body against and deal with physical, chemical, environmental, and emotional factors that produce high levels of stress and compromise physical and mental health. It also increases the body’s efficiency in using oxygen, which improves stamina, strength and endurance, helps with digestion and gastro-intestinal problems and neutralises dangerous biochemicals that contribute to cancer, degenerative diseases and premature aging. Tulsi also helps fight infections.
Ginger tea: Ginger tea is usually made by simmering a few slices of fresh ginger in water for a couple of minutes. Ginger, relaxes spasms, and is great for aiding nausea. Quietly sipping a hot, pure or mixed ginger tea can help relieve feelings of sickness. It is a good alternative to take ginger tea bags by those likely to suffer travel sickness, or by pregnant women concerned about morning sickness. Ginseng tea: Ginseng stimulates vitality and helps the body stay healthy. It aids respiration, helps with digestion, reduces physical and mental stress. Ginseng is rejuvenating and works against fatigue, aiding the immune system. An aphrodisiac, it helps counter arthritis, asthma, diabetes, and reduces the risk of cancer. It also lessens the effects of Crohn’s Disease and is effective against Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Syndrome. Ginseng helps lower (LDL) bad cholesterol levels and is effective against headaches. It provides a cure for stomach ulcers, diarrhoea and is good for blood circulation.
Cranberry tea: Cranberry tea helps to settle an upset stomach. It is excellent to lower uric acid.
Here are some easy-to-make herbal tea recipes. So put the kettle on the boil! HONEY GINGER TEA
This soothing and aromatic tea is great for relieving stress, and a good remedy for a cold and cough.
•tablespoon peeled and freshly sliced ginger
•cups boiling hot water
honey to taste
Wash the lemon and cut into thin slices.Place the lemon and ginger slices in a small teapot.Pour boiling hot water into the teapot. Allow the tea to infuse for a few minutes. Sweeten with honey and serve warm.
• 4 cups water
• 2 strands saffron
• ½ inch piece of cinnamon stick
• tsp organic honey
In water add saffron, cinnamon, clove and boil for 10 minutes until water becomes half. Strain it and add honey; sprinkle skinned and grated almond on top. Serve hot.
MINT TEA PUNCH
• 3 cups water
• 2 green tea bags •1 cup fresh peppermint leaves • 4 tsp jaggery/honey • 1½ cup orange juice • 1½ cups cranberry juice • ½ teaspoon cinnamon • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg Bring water just to a boil. Remove from heat. Add tea bags and fresh peppermint leaves. Allow to steep for five minutes. Remove tea bags and mint leaves using a strainer. Stir in jaggery, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Add this mixture to the orange juice. Refrigerate until well chilled (1-2 hours). Serve in a tall glass with ice and a sprig of mint. All these teas are zero calories!
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