Introduction: What's in Your Tea Cup?
Yeah, I get that question alot when I ask the flight attendant or restaurant server to fill my travel cup with hot water. I've been experimenting with herbal teas for a while now and thought you might want to see what's in my daily blend.
Step 1: Not That There's Anything Wrong With a Tea Bag . . . .
I guess I've just gotten spoiled, mixing and adjusting my tea to my taste and health. Now a chamomile tea from a bag just tastes flat to me, commercial blends seem like I'm wearing someone else's clothes, so . . .
Step 2: Big Stuff First
There's a lot of info on herbal properties out there, use caution and common sense, talk to a medical practitioner especially if you have any medical conditions, take any medications, are pregnant or breastfeeding
A few coin sized slices of fresh ginger, anti inflammatory, antioxidant, calms nausea,* and also tastes darn good
A little less than a palm sized portion of clementine peel, or orange, or . . . just be warned that some peels are bitter. Wash the fruit before peeling, peels can be dried and used later
When my Christmas tree was fresh, I'd throw bits of it right in my tea cup. Now that the twigs have dried out, I usually scrunch them into the tea ball to avoid having to strain needles from the tea
Not pictured, twigs of rosemary, oregano, thyme or really any herb that you like. When I harvest my herbs, I remove the sticks from the leaves, as my harvest is always less than I'd like, the "sticks" are saved for teas, while the dried herb leaves are used in cooking.
*see last step for more info on the herbal properties of some of my ingredients
Step 3: Stuff That Tea Ball!
I really pack the tea ball, but I'll refill that 2 cup measure several times, reusing all the "stuff", getting about 6-8 cups of tea from the ingredients I put together in the morning.
I always use lavender and chamomile, the smaller part of the tea ball is almost full with these two favourites.
Lemon balm, fast becoming part of the daily blend
Other herbs, bergamot, chickweed, violet leaf, plantain, nettles, echinacea, rosemary, chrysanthemum. Pretty much whatever I feel like that day.
I've gotten herbal info from many sources, but found that http://www.anniesremedy.com, has a lot of good information on herbal properties, uses, etc
Step 4: Steep!
I usually steep my tea for 30-60 minutes, make sure you cover it to preserve those volitile essences!
As I said earlier, I'll re use the tea ball and other stuff throughout the day, just adding hot water throughout the day
I don't find that my tea tastes like any one herb, there are a lot of subtle flavours going on, I enjoy tinkering with my tea as much as any DIY project.
Step 5: Herbal Information
I've gotten herbal info from many sources, but found that http://www.anniesremedy.com, has a lot of good information on herbal properties, uses, etc. Again, if you have any medical conditions, allergies, take any prescrptions, are pregnant or breastfeeding, consult your practitioner before using herbs.
I am not a herbalist, the following is for your information only, not intended as medical advice.
Even herbal tea is medicinal, and can have effects on your health and mood, both positive and negative, so use care! I started to use marigold seeds on a regular basis in my tea for increased alertness, they worked great, but after a while they seemed to be making me anxious. I cut them out now except for a few seeds now and then and they work fine. One of my sisters uses them often, without ill effects.
Some of the herbs I use, and why I choose them
Balsam Fir- my Christmas tree! Aromatic, colds, cough, sore throat, analgesic, antibacterial,expectorant
Bergamot- helps with digestive tract, antibacterial , anti fungal, antioxidant , analgesic a, fragrant, tasty
Chamomile- analgesic, anti inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, treatment of : anxiety, depression, insomnia, stress. Aromatic
Chickweed- stomach problems asthma, inflammation of the urinary tract, "used in treatment of exhaustion", nutritive
Caution: Contains Nitrates
Chrysanthemum-anti inflammatory, antibacterial, refrigerant/ cooling herb, sore throat relief, aromatic, subtle pleasant taste
Ginger- relief of nausea, cold and flu prevention and treatment, anti inflammatory, sharp pleasant taste
Lavender- I prefer lavender leaf to flowers in my tea, I think it has a richer, smoother taste. My garden has a lot of shade so my lavender plants don't make too many flowers, mainly leaves. I haven't found a local source for buying lavender leaf, so when the home grown runs it, I use lavender buds, store bought. Analgesic, antiviral, antifungal, antioxidant, for treatment of anxiety, depression, stress. aromatic
Lemon balm- for treatment of anxiety, depression, colds, antiviral, antibacterial, cooling herb, tasty
Nettles- allergies, asthma, arthritis, contains natural antihistamines, anti inflammatory
Orange peel- antiviral, antidepressant, antifungal, antioxidant, aromatic, antispasmodic,
Oregano- antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant, antispasmodic, anti inflammatory, aromatic
Parsley - antibacterial, aids in digestion, Vit C source
Plantain leaf- detoxifier, colds, flu, asthma, coughs, bladder and stomach problems, hoarseness, congestion, sinusitis, hay fever. The list goes on and on, that's why it grows all over the yard!
Rosemary- analgesic, antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, anti inflammatory, immune booster, improves memory, focus and mood
Violet leaf- anti inflammatory, boosts immune system, sore throat relief, expectorant, anti microbial, fungicidal
As I was compiling this list, I was reminded again of all the amazing properties in these herbs! I'd recommend a simple blend of 2-4 herbs to start, adding and adjusting slowly. Remember that many herbs have mild laxative and diuretic effects, also some will lower ( (or even raise!) blood pressure.