Nothing warms the body and soul like
holding a steaming mug, inhaling its subtle scents as you slowly sip. Why be
limited to caffeinated beverages when the herb world can bring flavor,
nutrients and health benefits?
tea offers an opportunity during busy days for time out, reflection and even
affirmation. One might think, “I’m nourishing my immune (or digestive, nervous,
etc.) system, ” while drinking. The brain, being in close proximity to
the nose and tongue responds to the message of the aromas.
are available in tea bags and provide convenience for an on-the-go lifestyle.
Herbs available in loose bulk form
(from health food and herbal stores) make a wider world of herbs
available, and minimize packaging. Bulk herbs are a good value and offer the
opportunity to select exactly what you desire. You may even have a few wild
things in your backyard (providing
pesticides haven’t been used in at least a couple of years) that can be used as
dried herbs in a glass jar or a non-plastic airtight container and label.
Storing herbs near light and heat (such as in windowsills and above the stove)
can deteriorate the herb quality quickly. Keep teas in a cupboard where they
can be protected to better conserve their flavors and therapeutic properties.
Nature will provide more herbs the next year, purchase no more than you are
likely to use within the year.
making tea, use fresh cold water. Avoid aluminum cookware, which is a soft
metal and can come out in the tea. Best choices are glass, cast iron, stainless
steel or unchipped enamel.
For those that can't be bothered with tea strainers,
you may find tea balls or infusers in shops where herbs are sold. These are
perforated utensils that can be filled with herbs, and placed in a teapot or
pot of water for about ten minutes. This work best for leaves and flowers. Tea
can be enhanced with a touch of honey or a
squeeze of fresh lemon.
your herbal repertoire. Herbs can have potent effects and just because
something is natural, it is still wise to learn about their properties. A few
user-friendly herbs might include:
seed (Pimpinella anisum) is a member of the Apiaceae (Parsley) Family. It
has a lovely licorice- like flavor for those who enjoy sweets and don’t want
the calories. Anise seed aids digestion and freshens the breath.
flowers (Matricaria recutita) are
members of the Asteraceae (Daisy) Family and have been used to calm anxiety way
before Peter Rabbit’s mother gave him some chamomile after his stressful day at
Mr. McGregor’s garden. The
flavor is pleasantly bitter with an aroma reminiscent of apples. Chamomile calms
the nerves and stomach.
Ginger root (Zingiber officinale) is a member of the Zingiberaceae (Ginger) Family.
This relative of cardamom and turmeric is zippy and warming. It improves poor
circulation that results in cold hands and feet. It is one of the best herbs
for improving digestion and nausea (including motion sickness). Consider this
an ally after a large holiday meal.
balm leaf (Melissa officinalis), a
member of the Lamiaceae (Mint) Family has a lemony flavor loved by most
everyone. Lemon Balm has long been
said to lift the spirits yet calm overactive children and improve focus.
leaf (Rubus species), a member of the
Rosaceae (Rose) Family, and relative of apples, strawberries and peaches has a
flavor similar to black tea, though without the caffeine. It is rich in
minerals like calcium, magnesium and iron.
hips (Rosa species) another Rose Family
member have a tart taste and are natural sources of vitamin C and flavonoids
that help strengthen the body’s capillaries.
(Mentha piperita) is one of the many
delectable members of the Lamiaceae (Mint) Family and fresh tasting. It has
been used for thousands of years as a gentle stimulant, and to calm upset
Invite some of
your favorite friends over for a tea party and have a toast to a great fall.
You don’t have
to be a tease to enjoy a variety of teas!
What are some of
your favorite herbal teas?
For more ideas,
check out the many recipes in my book, Healing Herbal Teas.
Brigitte Mars, a professional member of the American Herbalist Guild, is a nutritional consultant who has been working with Natural Medicine for over forty years. She teaches Herbal Medicine at Naropa University, Omega, Boulder College of Massage, and Bauman Holistic College of Nutrition. She has a weekly local radio show called "Naturally" on KGNU and a private practice. Brigitte is the author of twelve books, including The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine, Beauty by Nature, Addiction Free Naturally, Healing Herbal Teas, and Rawsome!. Click here for more healthy living articles, raw food recipes, videos, workshops, books, and more at brigittemars.com.