Health

Hop Aboard the Herbal Tea Express

[Image - Vee O]
Written by Sam Skelding

How can your family get the most out of herbal tea?

Herbs and spices are now readily available and – alongside fresh fruit and vegetables – are among the best nutritional sources out there. With a diverse array of imported produce available to us at supermarket prices, the ancient art of mixing and infusing these natural medicines into tea is more relevant today than ever. Then there are the premium brands, who pick their tea leaves and herbs from the most revered tea farms in the world and deliver right to your doorstep!

With so many options out there, it can be tricky to make smart choices as a consumer, and this gets even more difficult when you’re shopping for the whole family, with everyone having their own preferences and dietary needs.

A nice cuppa

Modern children are often overstimulated by fizzy drinks and junk food sneakily marketed as healthy kids’ snacks, but getting them into the herbal habit can improve their concentration, memory and emotional stability, keeping them focused at school and well-behaved at home.

Herbal tea can also alleviate stress on those days when you just need to unwind with your partner (we’re still partial to a glass of red, but variety is the spice of life!). Even the act of making the tea and sitting down at home to drink can be a bonding experience, a fact that us Brits are all too familiar with!

Although personal experimentation and self-education is best for discovering the tea to suit your family’s specific needs and lifestyle, here is a routine that will offer a plethora of health benefits throughout the day, every day.

In the morning – lemon, honey and ginger/cinnamon

Warm lemon juice is helpful in flushing out toxins from the body, making it an ideal morning drink to promote healthy digestion throughout the day. Honey is full of naturally occurring sugars, as well as being loaded up with vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. It also has fat-loss properties when consumed with warm lemon juice and cinnamon (Ceylon cinnamon is the most nutrient-rich).

Ginger is highly anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-oxidant and anti-parasitic – and that’s just the start. Its potency is higher when brought fresh (it will keep in the fridge, sliced, for up to three weeks). If you want to get really involved, try adding a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar for improved appetite control and detoxification.

The quality of honey is quite important. Always look for honey produced in the UK and only buy honey which labels ‘honey’ as the only ingredient – any added sweeteners or corn syrup is a big no-no. Try to avoid anything that says “made from a blend of EU and non-EU honeys”, or where the farm of origin is not specified.

For a concentration boost…

Matcha is revered in Japan as the ultimate green tea. The very finest available is ceremonial-grade matcha tea from the Uji Mountains in Japan, the birthplace of green tea. This used to be reserved for emperors and their privileged guests in Imperial Japan, but now you can order some online in a matter of minutes to be shipped directly from the farm.

Even in the average Japanese home, matcha is considered an excellent way to unwind after a long day, or as a tonic that boosts energy whilst relaxing the mind. This dual effect is achieved with an ideal mix of caffeine and theanine; the former stimulates whilst the latter tempers the jitteriness usually caused by caffeine.

This tea also allows the user to attain a state of optimum, relaxed alertness, which explains why some Buddhist monks drink matcha before a meditation session. Matcha is incredibly high in Vitamin A and has been tested as being up to 137 times more powerful than regular green tea, which is already known for its high anti-oxidant content.

Before bed – peppermint and chamomile blend

These caffeine-free herbal alternatives to a cup of builder’s tea are great for relaxing muscular tension in the body before bed and helping to relieve stress. The peppermint is good for the digestive system, making it an invaluable addition to a detox diet.

Or…

You can also try Golden Milk (or ‘Turmeric Tea’) before bed for a soothing hot drink. The turmeric is a great source of curcumin, which is increasingly being linked to all kinds of significant health benefits, including its very strong anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Inflammation and cell oxidation are already known to be lead causes of cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and all sorts of illnesses. Daily intake of curcumin can promote a long-term preventative measure comparable to leading medications.

Golden Milk is simply a mixture of your choice of milk and 0.5 – 1 teaspoon of turmeric per serving (try blending your own almonds for a nutty base or choose organic cow’s milk if you like dairy). There are recipes online with different suggestions for making a batch to store in the fridge, but if you’re in a pinch for time, just blend it all together and you’re good to go (although this method results in a bit of a grainy texture).

More anti-cancer goodness… Sencha and Chinese Jasmine blend

Sencha and Jasmine tea both score high on their anti-angiogenic properties, with their capacity to regulate blood vessel growth, which in turn can help prevent cancerous cells from getting a blood supply. By blending both together, the anti-angiogenic potential effectively doubles, making this an excellent daily tonic to help starve out cancer and other diseases. The Jasmine can be purchased in its loose leaf or teabag variant, but if you want to take it a step further, try using organic dragon pearls.

Going even further

This daily regimen should give you plenty of inspiration, but the beauty of herbal tea is that you can mix and match its contents as you see fit. Try making your own variants, adding spices and honey wherever you please. Time to get a decent teapot and make some family-sized brews!

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