It’s true, tea really is good for you! The East has been in the know and recognised tea as being a key to good health for centuries. However, in the West we have only truly embraced the health benefits of the brew in recent years. Research has shown that (camellia sinensis) tea, contains antioxidant compounds which help fight cancer and diabetes, counter inflammation and promote cardiovascular health. Additionally, certain teas support vitality, detoxification, mental focus, weight management and longevity! If you’re trying to improve your diet, simply swapping sweet beverages for tea and herbal infusions (without added sugar) is also great way to cut daily calories.
In 2017 US dieticians placed green tea among the top 10 superfood trends. Since then its popularity has rapidly increased to the extent that 3 cups of tea are currently being consumed worldwide for every cup of coffee. It’s become so popular that “tea bars” and tea-based cocktails are expected to be “the next big thing.”
TEA 101 – A QUICK GUIDE TO THE BASICS
Firstly, you should know that “tea” is made from the camellia sinensis plant. There are different basic varieties of tea which all come from this plant, namely; green, white, black, oolong, and pu-erh or dark tea. The difference in the end-product, is in how the tea leaves are processed. This results in the teas having different tastes and health properties. Green, white & oolong are generally higher in cancer fighting antioxidants, while black tea is said to be good for cardiovascular health.
Then there are “herbal teas” referred to as tisanes which are not made from camellia sinensis and are strictly speaking not “tea”. They are really an infusion of various herbal leaves, seeds, roots and/or bark, extracted in hot water. They do however, offer their own health benefits. By drinking a well-steeped herbal tea, we get all the plant’s benefits in an easily digestible form.
The ability of herbal teas or tisanes to target certain ailments is quite vast. Here are some of the more common benefits to bear in mind when choosing a tea or herbal blend. I favour blends that have a tea base to which a variety of herbs and spices are added because they provide the health benefits of, for example, green tea while targeting specific ailments with the herbal infusions. DO experiment but look for a product made from high-quality ingredients.
Peppermint tea is a wonderfully stimulating and refreshing brew that can help relieve the symptoms of abdominal gas and bloating, and to relieve muscle spasms. It’s also good for nausea and for heating up the body and making it sweat – more of a day-time tea for me.
Ginger is also used to ease nausea, vomiting or an upset stomach due to motion sickness. I make a fresh ginger brew most mornings. Peel and grate a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger root. Place it in a tea infuser (like the one in “Shop The Post” below), and allow this to steep in a cup of boiled water for 5-10 minutes. Then add some slices and juice of a fresh lemon and a bit of raw honey to make a refreshing morning pick-me-up infusion.
is a gentle calming and sedative tea made from flowers, and can be helpful for insomnia and even digestion after a meal. The perfect relaxing evening brew.
(RELATED POST: Sleeping Tips From An Insomniac)
Detoxifying milk thistle and dandelion
Milk thistle and dandelion teas are gentle liver cleansers (something many of us need thanks to our love of alcoholic beverages!). They promote detoxification and it has been said that the bitter taste can even help reduce cravings for sugar and fat!
Rosehip to boost health
Rosehip is the fruit of the rose plant and is one of the best plant sources of vitamin C, which is important for the immune system, skin and tissue health and adrenal function. Drinking a rose hip infusion is considered great for a general health boost.
Antioxidant rich rooibos
Rooibos or red tea is rich in antioxidants and minerals such as magnesium, iron and calcium which can calm inflammation in the muscles and joints and aid digestion.
(RELATED POST: 10 Reasons to start drinking rooibos today)
Uplifting lemon balm
Lemon balm tea is apparently great for lifting the spirits, so if you’re feeling “blah” find a tea with lemon balm in it!
MAKING THE PERFECT POT OF TEA
Use about 1 flat teaspoon (5ml) of loose tea leaves per cup to be served. Loose leaf tea is generally of a higher quality than the tea found in tea bags. Whole-leaf tea yields the best quality brew and is considered the highest grade of tea.
The key to preparing a good pot of tea lies in the temperature of the water and steeping time. Most teas provide guidance on how long the tea should be allowed to steep for optimal taste. As a general rule, steep black teas, dark teas, oolongs and herbal teas longer (3-5 minutes) and at a higher temperature (90-100° Celsius). Steep white and green teas at lower temperatures (70-80° Celsius) for about 2-3 minutes.
SHOP THE POST
Here are some fab purchases from our favourite local online health shop, Faithful to Nature, to get you started on your tea journey. Click on the link to read more about each of these special loose leaf tea blends and their benefits.
1. Tealyst Camomile and Mint Herbal Tea, R156 BUY
2. Tealyst Iron Goddess Oolong, R156 BUY
3. Tealyst Exotic Mango Fruit Tea, R156 BUY
4. EHK Kitchenware Stainless Steel Tea Infuser, R76 BUY
Perfect for single-cup servings or taking with you when traveling.
5. AL & CD Ashley Ceylon 18cm 1.2litre Cast Iron Tea Kettle, R969 BUY
6. Lady Bonin’s Chamomile Tea, R189 BUY
A cup of calming chamomile makes the perfect brew to enjoy before bedtime.
7. Lady Bonin’s Aphrodite Tea, R189 BUY
A natural black tea with a dash of rose petals, cardamom, cinnamon, star anise and saffron.
8. Mac’s Orange Blossom Comb Honey -500g, R182 BUY
Try some honey if you need to add a little sweetness to your tea. Make sure to use a quality, raw and unfiltered honey for maximum taste and antimicrobial health benefits. This divine golden orange blossom honey is as pure as it gets and even has a piece of real honeycomb in the jar.
This post was originally published on 26 June 2017 and updated on 18 February 2019.