Monday, May 6, 2013

Three Herbal Teas to Drink Daily

I was surfing the net this weekend when I ran across an article about herbal tea on Fit Girl Nutrition that just made me … sad.  The writer had nice things to say about herb tea and the fact it is caffeine free and can be part of a weight loss plan as it would encourage you to drink more liquids which is always important in the summer months.  However, the selection of herbal teas suggested was Chamomile or Peppermint or Lemon.  Now I am the first to suggest a lemon herbal tea, but this person was just advocating lemons as tea and never mentioned a single lemon herb by name.  I think that is lemonade.

 As I puzzled over a well written but totally useless article on herbal tea, I decided that the only counter action for this was to provide a better article.  So here you have my version.
Three Herbal Teas to Drink Daily
The title is misleading as i do not advocate only three teas, but rather three good herbs flavors to use in crafting an herbal tea.  Herb tea is best when 3 or more herbs are used together.  So check out what the herbs go with and then begin crafting an herbal tea that is both flavor filled and satisfiying.  At the end I have provided a few recipes to try.
Lemon herbs are perfect herbs for refreshing tea and most contain antioxidants which keep your liver and pancreas healthy. All the various lemon herbs will blend well with mint and any sweet flavors, but also with flowers like violets, calendula, chamomile and lavender.
Lemon Balm is high in flavonoids, which can have an antioxidant effect.  This versatile herb contains volatile oils that ease stress and buoy bad moods and it contains both Vitamin C and Thiamin (a B vitamin) making it a great wake-up herb.  Lemon Balm can be used for a variety of ailments including fatigue, cold sores, and stomach issues. of all the ingredients I use in tea this is the most common. My favorite tea using lemon balm is Lemon Lavender Splash.

lemon thyme
While Lemongrass, a renowned anti-fungal, is also great for relaxation and restful sleep and is known to relieve nausea and aid indigestion.   It also helps relieve of constipation, keeping the bowels working properly and removing toxins to keep the body healthy and energetic and that does not even get into its antioxidant properties.  Blended with ginger, it can become a powerful digestive which has the combined effect of creating a tea that is at once calming to the nerves and soothing to the digestive tract.

And Lemon Thyme will lend antiseptic properties.  Common thyme has a minty undertone that becomes less obvious with lemon thyme, but still makes it a good herb to blend with mint.  The immune-enhancing properties are part of it being an excellent antioxidant.  Lemon thyme is rich in antibacterial and antispasmodic properties too. Using it in tea will help cold symptoms, allergy symptoms and improve the ability to keep colds at bay. Both lemon thyme and Lemon grass figure as important flavors in my Zesty Lemon Herb Tea.
Lemon mint and lemon geranium can also be used to add a hint of lemon scent or flavor to tea especially with sweeter herbs like roses, lavender and chamomile.  Lemon peel can also be used to increase the soothing and digestive properties as well as increasing the lemon flavor of tea.
Peppermint in a tea will aid digestion, bring cooling, improve mood and enhance your imagination and creative thinking. It has a very strong aroma, as well as flavor of mint because of its high menthol content.  Peppermint is also versatile, good for stomach aches, stomach pains, stomach cramps or diarrhea.  It contains good amounts of potassium, calcium and vitamin B making it a great morning or afternoon pick-me-up especially blended with lemon herbs and those with a less sweet character like thyme and marjoram. You get the combined benefit of lemon balm and peppermint in my Lemon Peppermint Cooler tea.
Chamomile is a relaxation herb.  It is soothing in stressful times as well as an aid to sleep.  It is a perfect choice for the late afternoon or even before bed tea drinking.  Its apple-like taste combines well with mint or hibiscus and is a great flavor with roobios (Honey Bush Red Tea) which is also caffeine free.  Hibiscus is gaining popularity because of its ability to lower blood pressure so taking this in the evening can only enhance that wind down to bedtime.  Adding in a few pieces of fresh or dried apple to your tea will bring out the apple flavor of chamomile and give you a taste you will come back to again and again.  Just add a couple slices of apple to a blend with Chamomile to see what I mean. We use Chamomile in several teas, but my favorite is Tea Time Tea.
RECIPES
Now for some recipes to get you started.
HERBAL WATER
This recipe is from Karen Langan and I read it in Lemon Balm: An Herb Society of America Guide.  I included it first in case you really do want to use herbs with weight loss or summer hydration, as an herb water is less of a diuretic than herbal tea.  I love that you can change the recipe by choosing your own "mystery herb."

1 handful of lemon balm
½ handful of pineapple sage
½ handful orange mint
¼ handful mystery herb (like rose, lime basil, or rose scented geranium) in 2 quarts of water

Six hours before drinking it, gather the herbs, wash them gently in cold water and place them in a jug of water. Place the jug in the fridge so that is refreshingly chilled for family or guests.  Any citrus herb, scented geranium, mint or other sweet flavored herbs can be substituted.


Lemon Balm Fatigue Tea

Equal parts:
   nettle
   raspberry leaf
   oat tops
  lemon balm
 1/4 part each:
    finely chopped Licorice root
    finely chopped Ginger root

Mix all the herbs together.  Use 1 to 2 tsp. per cup of hot water and steep 5 to 7 minutes or more in hot water. Drink 3 cups daily.

Lemon Balm Mood Tea

Equal parts:
   Lemon balm
   Oat tops (oat straw)
Pinch of peppermint

For straight-up tea, pour 8 ounces boiling water over 1 to 2 tea mixture dried lemon-balm leaf.

Cough-Control Tea

2 parts lemon peel
1 part sage
1/2 part lemon thyme

Fresh lemon juice
honey

Pour one cup of hot water over  3 ½ tsp. of herb mixture.  Cover and steep for 15 minutes. Strain tea, then add juice of 1/2 lemon and 1 Tablespoon honey.   Drink two to three cups daily for cough relief

Peppermint Sun Tea

12 stalks fresh mint
2 quarts water

Place mint and water in half gallon jar - on a sunny day. Cover jar and set in the sun for at least 6-8 hours. Strain and serve warm or chilled with a sprig of mint.


Lemon Mint Iced Tea

4 Tbls. Lemon Balm or Lemon Grass
2 Tbls. Lemon Thyme
2 tsp. peppermint

lemon juice
lime juice

Combine 6 tsp. tea blend with 8-ounces boiling water and steep for 5 minutes. Strain tea and add 24 ounces of cold water. Pour over ice; add 1 tsp. lemon and ½ tsp. lime juice and stir. Serve in 4 tall glasses with ice and lemon slices or lemon balm sprigs. To make this as a hot tea, use 2 tsp. of blend per cup of hot water and flavor each cup with a splash of lemon or lime juice.

Lemongrass and Ginger Iced Tea½ cup of sugar (or honey)
Stalk of lemongrass (cut into 2-inch lengths) (about ¼ cup)
About 7 1-inch diameter or larger slices of ginger root, finely chopped
5 cups water
3 to 5 Green tea bags
Directions
First step is to rinse the lemongrass and chop it into 2'' in length. With the flat side of the knife crush the lemongrass. This will release more essential oils for taste and flavor during steeping.  Now take a kettle or saucepan and add 5 cups of water to it, ½ cup of sugar, lemongrass and finely chopped slices of ginger to the pot. Bring all this to boil. Once it boils, take it off the stove and add 3 to 5 bags of green tea to it. Steep it for about 5 minutes until the flavor is released (the steeping depends on how strong you wish the tea to be). Immediately discard the tea bags and let the tea cool down for about 30 minutes. After it is cool, pour the entire mixture into a pitcher and keep in the refrigerator for about 2 hours. After a few hours, drink this tasty ginger lemongrass tea by pouring it into a fine tall glass filled with ice and lemon slices.  Enjoy!  For a no caffeine version, double the amount of lemon grass and leave out the green tea.
Lemongrass Iced Tea - Cambodian RecipeThis is an authentic recipe which comes all the way from Senteurs D'Angkor, a company selling foods and spices. Be aware that you can substitute Rooibos tea if you want the flavor of black tea but want to avoid the caffeine.

4 cups of water
1 tablespoon of chopped lemongrass
8 limes, juiced
1 cup of sugar (or to taste)
Ice cubes
4 black tea bags (or about 4 tsp. loose tea)
1 small bunch of fresh cilantro (optional)

Directions
Take a large saucepan and add the measured amount of water and desired amount of sugar to it and bring it to boil. Next add lemongrass and the juice of 8 limes to the pan and simmer it for about 5 minutes. Then turn off the stove and add the black tea bags. Steep for 2 to 5 minutes depending on strength desired.  Strain the mixture and allow to cool. Then take a container or a shaker filled with ice cubes and add the lemongrass tea to it. Shake the entire mixture vigorously for a good 30 seconds and serve chilled. For extra decoration, you can add chopped cilantro leaves and slices of lime to the tea. 

2 comments:

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  2. Thanks for sharing the beautiful and useful post.

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