I grew up watching my grandmother Parvati sit on the porch, petting our family dog, Arthur and sip on her fragrant milk-less tea. In India, we often brew tea in water, then we pour in half a cup of milk and two spoons of sugar, give it a good stir and voila! So, it was quite astonishing for me to witness her consume the clear amber liquid. “It’s no normal tea Anu, it’s herbal tea!” she would say.
She had her whole stash organized in a chestnut box with six compartments, each filled with a specific kind of herbal tea ranging from ginger for the morning, peppermint for after lunch to chamomile for a better sleep.
Herbal teas are very different from the tea we usually consume. The effect of plants on human health has been documented for thousands of years. Consuming this tea is an age-old practice, as a lot of healing properties are associated with it and it’s especially used in Ayurveda (an alternative medicinal approach, originating on the Indian sub-continent). Today, a lot of researchers have accomplished to scientifically prove its medicinal properties.
What is herbal tea?
Herbal teas are made out of flowers, dried fruits, spices or herbs and can be used as an alternative medicine. They are very different from regular teas such as green tea, black tea and oolong tea (mixture of the qualities of black and green tea), which are all brewed from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant.
Nowadays herbal tea is consumed as a healthier alternative to sugary liquids and as a flavoring agent for drinks.
Usual benefits associated with herbal tea:
- Immunity booster
- Aids menstrual disorders
- Reduced stress
- Induces sleep
Let us dive in deeper and explore some of the different types of herbal tea:
More than 1 million hot cups of chamomile tea are consumed everyday. It is known for its famous properties of inducing relaxation and sleep. Commonly available in two varieties – the German and Roman chamomile, chamomile is one of the most widely documented plants worldwide and its magical recipes have been passed down through the centuries.
When the flowers of the Matricaria species or chamomile are dried, they contain the medicinal properties of flavonoids and terpenoids (an all stop solution, as it’s said to be anticancer, antimicrobial, antifungal, antiviral, antihyperglycemic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antiparasitic).
The usages of chamomile are aplenty. Drinking this tea can help with muscle spasms, menstrual disorders, insomnia, ulcers, wounds, gastrointestinal disorders, rheumatic pain and hemorrhoids. You will often find this flower’s essential oil being used in cosmetics and aromatherapy.
The bioactive phytochemicals (variety of compounds), present in vegetables, fruits, whole grain products, lend therapeutic effects for mind and body. It is the perfect agent to promote holistic health.
Did you know that in Germany peppermint tea is sometimes prescribed as a general treatment for dyspepsia (an upset stomach)? Well, that says a lot about the potent abilities of this herbal tea. Known as one of the most traditional and effective liquid solutions (also recommended by grandma Parvati), it is indeed great for digestion and an effective breath freshener.
It is noted for being present in various mints and gums, too. The vapour version of the leaves’ essential oils contain menthol and menthone; these compounds improve breathing through the nose. Peppermint tea predominantly contains rosmarinic acid and flavonoids (found in every vegetable and fruit), helps to cool down your system and stimulates digestion. It is also known for its strong antioxidant properties. It has anesthetic effects on the central and peripheral nervous system, lightly easing your bodily pains.
In 2012, high blood pressure was the cause of 2.2 million deaths and in 2016 diabetes was the cause of 1.6 million deaths. With around 8% of the world population suffering from Diabetes Melitus or Type 2 diabetes (2016), we should look into prevention/cure techniques. Herbs and spices with anti-diabetic properties, such as cinnamon, ginseng, fenugreek, and bitter melon, can help reduce blood sugar levels. Sage or Salvia Fruticosa has high rosmarinic acid, decreases blood sugar levels and inflammation.
Since it contains antioxidant properties, it helps with the protection and regeneration of important cells involved in the balance of the glucose in the body. It is indeed great for diabetes, as I can attest to because I saw a personal change in my body due to the consumption of this herbal tea, coupled with other products.
Recent studies have shown Sage to prevent colon cancer by protecting cellular DNA. This is a great herbal tea to take care of your health.
A quick ginger tea on the go can potentially decrease the queasy feeling at the back of your throat. An age old tradition to ease nausea and vomiting, ginger is also recognised by The British Herbal Compendium as a remedy for morning sickness during pregnancy.
Ginger tea treats nausea, vomiting (emesis), diarrhea, as well as diverse ailments such as arthritis, muscular aches, and fever. The herbal tea will increase gastric emptying, which leads to better digestion.
An effective and inexpensive treatment, this herbal tea is remarkable for all sorts of emergencies.
It is said that during the second World War, when vitamin C was not readily available, the British would make a syrup out of rosehip plants to gain the nutrients.
Being rich in antioxidant properties, it helps you lose weight and have healthy looking skin. Out of the most common teas this is the richest in vitamin C, vitamin A and vitamin E, which protect your immune system and have other benefits:
- Vitamin C helps with collagen regeneration and prevents wrinkles.
- Vitamin A reverses sun damage and reduces hyperpigmentation of the skin.
- Vitamin E has anti-inflammatory properties.
Moreover, a 2009 study states that inhaling rosehip oil, a well-known aromatherapy practice, can reduce stress, as it reduces the systolic blood pressure and the rate of breathing.
Go on, sniff some rosehip oil now!
This lemon scented herb has been recommended by several herbal apothecaries. Another ancestral formula to elevate mood and relieve stress, this contains rosmarinic acid which has a direct effect on cognitive functions and one’s mood.
The plant contains benzodiazepine properties that make the tea have a calming effect.
Why not give this a try to relax for a little bit.
Would you fancy a cuppa today?