Herbal tea is making a big comeback – in addition to the same old tired cliché teas such as chamomile and mint, there are some relative newcomers that should be looked at. There are some herbs that were used many years ago that are having a resurgence due to the many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that they contain. In fact, more and more studies are being done in order to determine the added benefits of these herbal drinks, and it looks like our great great great grandparents had it right. Due to the high levels of anti-oxidants we know they contain, they are beneficial for us in many ways. You can pick some of those yourself, depending on where you live – the herbs mentioned here grow in most of Europe and North America. If you’re unable to, you can always get these kinds of brews in an online tea store– more and more, there are reputable establishments that sell very high quality rare herbal teas, and their selections grow every year.
This common weed has a lot of nutrients with a beneficial effect. It contains calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and vitamins B and C. The flowers are more commonly used but the dried root powder also has the same properties. Pick the flowers just as they open and dry in a warm oven with the door open or in a food dehydrator. Harvest roots for tea in early fall before they get too tough and bitter.
Dandelion tea has the following benefits:
- Aid digestion by easing bloating and gas
- Acts as a liver cleanse
- Diuretic effect flushes out toxins
- Can help regulate blood sugar
- Improves circulation
- Can be used as a coffee substitute
Dandelion tea can react with badly with some medications so ask your doctor before you try this tea.
Add 1 teaspoon of dried flowers or dried root to your teapot and top up with nearly boiling water.
Bay willow is an herb that most of us will have not heard of before unless we have relatives or are a descendant from Russia. There it was used as a tea before traditional tea was bought from China in the 17th century. It was largely exported to the countries of Western Europe where it was known as Ivan Chai or Koporye Tea.
This small flowering plant contains beta siterol, flavenoids and the same antioxidant found only in green tea leaves. Other compounds known as oenothein A and B are commonly used to treat bladder and urinary tract problems as prostate conditions.
It is largely used for its anti-inflammatory properties and being beneficial for urinary problems such as infections. This tea is best taken first thing in the morning on an empty stomach and then around 30 minutes before your evening meal.
It is advised that 2 cups of tea a day are sufficient.
Place 1 heaped teaspoon of tea in 250 mls of near boiling water.
We all know about stinging nettles and their stings but the dried leaves and roots make a refreshing and beneficial herbal tea. It contains a natural diuretic promoting healthy kidney and bladder function. It flushes away any toxins and the flavenoids it contains are a great anti-oxidant. It also has a high quantity of iron, calcium and vitamin C.
Nettle tea can be beneficial in the following ways:
- Good as an iron supplement
- Lowers blood sugar and cholesterol
- Boosts our immune system
- Flushes out histamine and other allergy causing compounds
- Reduces gas and bloating
- Aids digestion
- Tea makes a good mouthwash and helps with symptoms of bad breath and gingivitis
Pick bunches of leaves, tie together with string and hang upside down in a dark, cool place with good air circulation till dry.
Use 1 or 2 teaspoons of dried leaf or root in your teapot and steep with near boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes.
You know turmeric as a spice commonly used in many Indian and Middle Eastern dishes. It imparts a strong golden orange colour and is an excellent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. It is even available from your Pharmacist in capsules for arthritis. It is less commonly known as an herbal tea that dates back hundreds of years.
The root of the plant is used both as a spice and as a tea. The natural ingredient is known as curcuminoid and it benefits us in the following ways:
- Helps regulate levels of insulin and improves glucose control
- Can reduce levels of bad cholesterol
- Strengthens the immune system
- Improves digestionand lessens bloating
- Naturally detoxifies the liver
Add some black pepper to your turmeric powder for a better anti-inflammatory.
Use 1 teaspoon of powdered root for a small teapot. Pour on near boiling water and stir.
Elderflowers come from the European Elder tree and have been used for many years as an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory ingredient. These flowers are rich in Vitamin C and the flavenoids quercetin that is a strong antioxidant and also contains anthocyanins that have anti-viral properties. This tea can:
- Aid in the treatment of colds, flu, sinus and respiratory problems
- Help control allergies
- Help regulate blood sugar levels
- Have a diuretic and laxative effect
- Boost your immune system
- Be good as a mouthwash
Use a teaspoon of flowers in a small tea pot for a stimulating brew or add 1 teaspoon per person in a larger teapot…
Brewing guide tools of the trade
In order to get the most from your herbal tea or blend you will need a mortar and pestle (woody roots and seeds), teapot with infuser or tea strainer, and a rolling pin to bruise fresh leaves from your garden.
Most herbal blends consist of dried leaves but can also contain seeds and dried roots. Blends of, leaves are brewed the same way as traditional teas in a teapot with infuser and using near boiling water. This is known as an infusion.Let steep for between 3 and 10 minutes depending on your preference.
Place 1 teaspoon of dried herbs in your teapot and add water. Strain into cup and enjoy.
For woody parts and roots and seeds a mortar and pestle is used to crush or bruise the stems so the flavour is released. This is known as a decoction.
Place 1 teaspoon of herbal blend into a small saucepan, cover with water (about 2 cups) and slowly heat to a gentle simmer and simmer for 8 to 12 minutes, again for your taste preference. Strain into a cup or mug. Keep covered or you will lose added flavour in the escaping steam.
Look into the benefits of these little known herbal teas and see if they can help you in any way.