Typically, I am a coffee drinker but some occasion call for a hot cup or an iced cold glass of herbal tea. I am extremely grateful for my mother teaching me all about herbal teas and how powerful and healing they can be.
Really, what is an herbal tea?
To clarity, herbal teas are made of tree barks, leaves, roots, fruits, flowers, and spices, they are not real teas. For example, chamomile, lavender, dandelion are tisane or herbal teas, not teas in the strict sense of the term. They are a mean to quickly get nutrients to the body in a way that is gentler and more digestible while keep the entire system hydrated. Real teas are usually categorized into the black, white, and green categories.
Throughout history people have used variety of infusions to appease their aches and pains.
Who doesn’t like a cup of warm tea in a cold afternoon?
However, getting quality herbs is not a complicated affair. You can either grow your own fresh herbs like peppermint, basil, lavender, rosemary, etc. or buy them from a trusted and educated supplier.
How to get the best out of your teas?
First, buying high quality herbal tea is important. Buying organic, local, from a reputable source is capital. To continue, buying in low waste or compostable packaging is always a plus. Steer clear from the stuff with essential oils, flavors, and preservative added for longer shelf life.
Second, steep your herbal tea in a covered container for 10 to 15 minutes to get all the benefits.
As a matter of fact, University of Wisconsin recommends you keep bagged tea around only for a few months due to their shorter shelf life and to store whole herbs in airtight containers for up to a year.
Moreover, regardless of why you are drinking herbal teas or tisane always check if they don’t have any bad interactions with current medications you are taking and always disclose your tea drinking habits to your physician.
Subsequently, If you are new to the tea drinking world, start with ones that are pleasant and mild tasting like chamomile, cinnamon, ginger, lemon balm, nettle, peppermint, and rosemary. These teas are generally used to treat mild gastro-intestinal discomfort, minor pains, and alleviate insomnia. Remember, always talk to your healthcare provider before drinking herbal teas for medicinal purposes.
In the same token, some herbal teas have diuretic properties which can cause fluid loss or allergic reactions. Some herbal teas act like any other drug would in your body, again caution is necessary.
Additionally, If you are interested in teas because you want something with caffeine other than coffee, then, Kola, mate, black tea, green tea, matcha, white tea, cocoa, mushrooms, and some spiced or fruit teas like chai are great caffeinated choices.
To clarify, not all herbal teas are caffeine free. Exercise caution, do some research. If you are buying pre-packaged herbal teas, it would be a brilliant idea to take a look at the ingredients list and the directions. Additionally, always allow your body to get used to a new tea. Drink one cup, then wait a day for any allergic reactions or side effect like dizziness, headache, nausea before having it again.
If you are expecting or breastfeeding, check with your midwife or OB before proceeding.
If everything seems to be ok, then, enjoy a cup or two to increase your fluid intake throughout the day.
The benefits of herbal teas
Moreover, herbal teas are not only great to keep your body hydrated, they also have great health benefits. Some herbalist even agrees that a good cup of organic tea might be more beneficial that a vitamin pill. In the same vain, teas can bring friends and family together. Imagine sitting, sipping comfortably while swapping stories or enjoy a nice conversation with your dear ones. Add some cookies, scones, or biscuits, then you are bound to have a blast! Herbal teas are also great mood enhancers, stress relievers, others increase energy level, and clear your skin!
Finally, let’s take a look at some teas and tisanes that all tea lovers, especially women should have in their cupboards.
1.- Lady’s Mantle
Lady’s mantle is packed with flavonoids, salicylic acid, and mineral salts. It has been used by healer throughout the years to stop internal and external bleeding. Additionally, it has strong healing properties besides being effective in alleviate excessive menstrual bleeding and cramps.
In fact, lady’s mantle has positive effects on relieving inflammation and fever. On the other hand, it is also a beauty tonic. It might also help reducing mild hair loss due to tension alopecia when used as part of a regular regiment.
2.- Gotu Kola
Gotu or herb of longevity is very popular in Ayurvedic medicine. Studies show that gotu kola is effective at improving cognitive function in patients with vascular cognitive impairment. (VCI)
On the other hand, gotu kola is effective at improving learning and memory functions in older mice.
Still, there are some speculations on how gotu kola can help with reducing anxiety and depression. It reduces inflammation, swelling, and helps with pain management.
Finally, gotu kola helps with fading stretch marks. Indeed, ladies, applying a topical cream with 1 percent of gotu kola several times a day is great at reducing the appearance of stretch marks and scars. Always make a patch for allergic reactions.
Just remember, do not use gotu kola if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have liver disease, have a history of cancer, have surgery scheduled in the next 2 weeks, or have hepatitis. When in doubt, consult an herbalist or a doctor.
Rooibos or red bush tea from South African is an herbal tea from the Aspalathus linearis plant. The tea leaves although green at the beginning undergo a fermentation process that later on gives them the beautiful deep red color and the smoky flavor.
As a matter of fact, rooibos is the perfect beginner tea. It has a sweet nutty flavor with a hint of vanilla and caramel with a smoky feel. You can enjoy it all day as it is caffeine free. Try it with a dash of maple syrup and a slice of lemon. You are guaranteed to fall in love with it!
Rooibos benefits are numerous:
In fact, it has plenty of minerals like iron, calcium, zinc, magnesium, AHA. It has vitamins C and powerful antioxidants and polyphenols that are great at fighting free radicals.
Finally, rooibos is generally safe when taken in moderate quantities.
4.- Lemon Balm
Lemon balm is from the mint family. First of all, lemon balm or bee balm, cure-all, honey plant, sweet balm, Toronjil, sweet Mary, dropsy plant, and Xiang Feng Cao is anti stress tea. Second, it’s great at relieving insomnia, as it helps with production of serotonin. Third, it helps with cold sore, common cold, and gastrointestinal issues.
Do not use lemon balm as a long term beverage/ herbal tea choice as it can cause side effects like headaches, gas, bloating, agitation, and nausea.
5.- Tulsi or Holy Basil
Do not confuse Tulsi with the common household basil. Tulsi is a tonic for the body, mind, and spirit. In fact, It’s great to sip on if you work in a stressful environment. In the same vain, it is great for exhaustion or when you are in need of a natural boost. It has vitamin C, polyphenols, calcium, iron, zinc, chlorophyll, and vitamin C. You can also use the leaves on insect bites to soothe inflammation.
To clarify, always buy tulsi from trusted and organic sources to reduce chance of toxicity. Remember to always drink in moderation and seek an herbalist or doctor’s advice.