We could all benefit from drinking tea and herbal infusions; it’s a practice that’s thousands of years old, and has numerous scientifically-validated health benefits. There is a difference between the two; tea is a specific plant, whereas herbal teas are a collection of leaves, seeds, roots, and bark left to stew in boiling water—in France the word “tisane” is used for this type of drink. You can buy your desired tea in loose leaf or sachet form, and as a basic preparation principle all of the following should be immersed into freshly-boiled water that has been allowed to cool for a few minutes. To add to the health benefits, it’s best to use organic varieties, as this cuts out pesticides that you really could do without. The first step, however, is to choose from the myriad of varieties on the market. Here are the most readily available.
Benefits of Tea That You Should Know about
One of the most famous drinks in the world is also a natural booster of overall health. The benefits of tea have been studied for 4,500 years, after the leaves of Camellia sinensis became the first steeped tea to be consumed. There are two main varieties: one being Chinese tea, and the other Assam. Indian teas, such as Darjeeling, are also world-renowned for their health properties, whilst the English Earl Grey blend is famous for its distinctive bergamot and orange flavor. It’s best to experiment in order to find your favourite, and, if you can, avoid adding any additional milk or sugar as this negates some of the health benefits.
All of these teas have high levels of catechins; antioxidants that fight for your health and keep you in good working order. Scientific tests have also indicated tea consumption fights off cancer and aids weight loss. However, tea does contain caffeine, so limit your daily intake to a few cups a day. Anyone interested in learning more about these plants and their numerous benefits can find a full scientific analysis over at the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
The use of peppermint (pictured above) in tea form has a long history dating back thousands of years. Its health properties are highlighted by many sources, including The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC). Peppermint is well known for its ability to aid digestion, irritable bowel syndrome, headaches, and colds. It’s capable of doing this as it is a soothing, numbing, and calming herb which relaxes the muscles of the stomach and improves the flow of bile, consequently aiding your body’s ability to digest fats. As the most active ingredient at play here is menthol, it’ll assist your colds as it thins any build up of mucus—these soothing qualities will also help any sore throats you develop.
As you’re more than likely aware, mint flavour is a popular choice for toothpastes and gum due to its refreshing smell. Taking up peppermint infusions has the same effect—it’s a good way to remove bad breath without the superfluous calories of gum.
Cinnamon can usually be found in a mix with other herbs, but it is noted for its excellent taste. It’s perhaps best associated with unhealthy desserts, but despite this it is actually a very healthy spice that can liven up your foods as well as drinks. Cinnamon has many health benefits, with its consumption being linked to assisting diabetes, arthritis, stomach ulcers, and inflammation.
Nettle infusions, fear not, won’t leave you grasping at your throat in agony. Despite its habit of stinging most things that dare step near it, it is one of the best natural remedies for all sorts of ailments. A nettle infusion can help alleviate urinary tract disorders, seasonal allergies, arthritis, chest congestion, inflammation, oily skin, and spasms, and it acts as a cleanser of the kidneys and liver.
It’s not the best tasting drink, admittedly, despite its incredible health benefits. Luckily you can often find varieties of nettle with added peppermint for a delicious merger of health benefits.
Ginger is another natural digestive aid (which is why the Japanese eat pickled ginger between bites of sushi). It has anti-inflammatory properties that help conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis; it can ease nausea, fend off morning and motion sickness, and is powerful enough able to help with drug withrawal symptons! Not that we condone the use of such things, but it certainly shows the power of ginger. It makes a delicious drink, and is very warming and soothing.
Milk Thistle is a unique plant that offers silymarin (a flavolignan) which is used to manage overall liver health and even liver diseases. It hasn’t been completely scientifically proven that milk thistle does assist the liver (scientific tests are positive, but inconclusive), but other investigations suggest the plant’s antioxidants can help prevent Alzheimer’s Disease.
It can be consumed in tea form, but it’s also available as a handy tablet from health stores. If you’re partial to an evening out, this will aid your liver’s recovery following the drinking bout.
Dandelion is a natural cleanser and has the benefit of being similar to coffee, but without the caffeine. A cup of this a day will detox your system. Dandelion (which is often seen as a weed or a nuisance by gardeners) is actually a beta-carotene and potassium-rich herb which is a natural diuretic, anti-rheumatic, and appetite stimulant
Its cleansing abilities are suggested to aid with eczema, diabetes, cancer treatment, liver disease and functioning, and it can also help GI disorders—that’s an incredible list of abilities for such a humble plant! It’s distinct, pleasant taste should also win it some new fans.
Chamomile is used to create a naturally soothing and delicious drink that’s great for anyone who needs to wind down before going to bed. It’s an aromatic, golden-coloured herb and is often used to treat muscle spasms, menstrual disorders, insomnia, ulcers, stomach disorders, rheumatic pain, hay fever, and hemorrhoids. Due to its relaxing nature, the drink can also assist people with anxiety disorders.
It’s arguably one of the best tasting herbal teas, too, and can be sweetened with a spoonful of honey for added antioxidants.
There are a number of excellent books available that offer additional, detailed analysis of tea and its origins. Kakuzo Okakura’s 1906 compendium The Book of Tea, and the contemporary 20, 000 Secrets of Tea: The Most Effective Ways to Benefit from Nature’s Healing Herbs by Victoria Zak are two such examples. You can even visit tea plantations as a holiday excursion; taking the trek of a lifetime to China, Malaysia, India, or Sri Lanka can allow you to glimpse a way of life which has been in action for thousands of years.Featured photo credit: Black iron asian teapot and burning candle,vintage style. via Shutterstock