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How (and why) to drink herbal tea

I've always thought that tea bags were wasteful, so I was pretty happy a few years ago to find out I could use a "tea ball". You can get them from speciality tea places, or any kitchen-ware place would stock them these days. It just means that you can scoop up some tea leaves and brew a single cup of tea in your mug instead of using a teabag or a teapot. Its quicker, it reduces mess and waste AND loose leaf tea is cheaper than tea bags. I have a cup of tea using my tea ball every morning at work. I was thinking about posting about this a while ago and then Rhonda from Down to Earth wrote about something similar, so that saves me explaining all the details of tea balls vs tea bags!

Rhonda wrote about black tea, but I don't drink black tea, because the caffeine doesn't agree with me at all (get the shakes, can't sleep, etc).  I stick to herbal teas.  Nourishing Traditions recommends drinking herbal teas, both as an alternative to obvious bad choices (sugary drinks, black tea, coffee, pasteurised milk) and even to plain water, as they contain some of the minerals that are essential for healthy bodies.

Herbal teas also contain something called "phytochemicals", these are chemicals found in plants that interact with the human body.  Although there is plenty of anecdotal evidence of what the various herbs are traditionally known to do (just google "herbal tea"), the actual chemical interactions are not well understood or proven by conventional research.  This means that it is possible to get sick or die from drinking too much of the wrong tea.  This only proves to me that herbs can be used as gentle "medicine" to alter body chemistry, and that they deserve a certain amount of respect.  I have had some teas where I could feel the difference after I drank them, and some have even had side-effects that I didn't feel comfortable with, just another situation where its important to listen to the signs from your body.

I am not sophisticated enough to know which herb to use in each situation, or have a wide variety of different herbs in my garden (yet), but as I only have one cup of tea in the morning, I think a "detox" or "refresh" teas is just what I need to start the day. When I'm at home, I pick mint and spearmint from my garden and put a few leaves into the tea ball.  If I was more organised I would take fresh leaves to work as well, but in the meantime.  My mother-in-law has a lovely Lemon Myrtle tree and when I'm at their place I usually have a few leaves of that in my mug to make a refreshing tea.  Even in summer when its too hot for tea, I enjoy chilled herbal tea (or I just let it go cold in my mug until its comfortable to drink).

Unfortunately much of the research into phytochemicals (for example)  is in regards to extracting these chemicals, understanding their impact on the body and producing them as commercial drugs.  This makes me cringe!  I think we are always better to use these chemicals in their natural form, where there may be other chemicals in the plant that compliment or reduce any negative effects.  The rest of the research seems to be reports of the side effects of overdosing on herbal teas, as if the researchers want to scare us from using them rather than help us to find sensible doses or at least understand the effects.

Do you drink herbal tea?  What is your favourite combination?

See more about the teas I make using herbs that I grow.

Comments

  1. I'm growing lots of different herbs for teas. Lemon balm, lemon verbena, lime verbena, pineapple sage, sage, pepper/spear/chocolate mint,... I keep finding new ones to grow!

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  2. We are a household of 2 both quite serious tea drinkers and I would take a guess that at any one time there are about 10-15 tea options including a variety of greens, herbals and black teas. most of them are loose leaf but I do keep a few tea bags on hand as well. I have not grown any yet but it is something I will get around to one day.

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  3. I second the recommendation to do loose leave teas over bagged teas. The quality is much improved...and less likely to have "natural flavors" and weirdness added.

    I would also recommend adding some cream of tartar to your diet. If you get the shakes from caffeine, in my personal experience, it might be because you don't have enough potassium and/or magnesium in the diet. Cream of tartar is from a potassium salt that precipitates out of grape juice in the wine making process....so it's a real food supplement. ;)

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