Herbs have medicinal properties and health benefits, and what more of a lovely way way to take your daily ‘medicine’ than in a cup of tea. Us Brits tend to be a bit conservative when it comes to tea- white & 1 sugar! But there is a whole world of herbs just waiting to be discovered- follow my daily blog for tips & recipes.
A good tea starts with quality– a trusted brand/supplier is essential. Make sure it is 100% pure herb. What you are looking for-as you can see from this lovely picture is vibrancy. Bright colours, vivid greens or at least something that resembles the original herb (as not all herbs are brightly coloured) are general signs of a good herb. There are exception to this (eg for powdered herbs) but for the most part if it looks like sawdust (as in the contents of most supermarket herbal teas) then it probably tastes and behaves like it too! They will be of absolutely no benefit to your health. Avoid teas with synthetic ‘flavourings’ such as peach. Besides I think these taste awful and mask the wonderful true taste of a plant. If you want to add flavour then grate in some citrus zest or ginger, add a bit of mint or even a few berries or a couple of slices of fresh fruit. If you want to make your own blends there are some great herb books to point you in the right direction and I will be adding some recipes to this site too.
Old teas or poorly stored teas that have been stored for donkeys years also loose their medicinal benefits and can develop moulds, so I tend to keep herbs for no longer than 1 year before replacing. Storage is important, keep your teas in a cool, dry, dark place out of direct sunlight- amber or blue glass jars are good tea caddies as they block out light and can be closed tightly to protect against moisture.
(ok that sounds dodgy!)
Go for Certified Organic where possible, from trusted sources. Many teas are loaded with pesticides/herbicides. Tea and coffee are in fact among the most highly sprayed crops- which is worrying when you drink tea everyday (and if you drink tea as much as I do then even more of a reason to get organic!). Or look for wildcrafed herbs from sustainable sources.
To Bag or Not To Bag?
Looseleaf or Teabag? Loose leaf teas are generally better quality (plus you get a much more of a therapeutic dose). Or you can use a stainless steel tea infuser ball. A Herbalist can customise a blend for you and they have access to a larger variety of quality herbs. But for convenience you can also use bagged teas, just make sure they are from a good quality brand. Look for unbleached, 100% biodegradable teabags and never buy those ‘silk’ pyramids that resemble plastic. Some teabags can contain nylon, chlorine, plastic based ingredients, polychlorhydrene, epichlorhydrin and even genetically modified corn. Certain well known brands (sometimes expensive brands) use these nylon based pyramid teabags. The brands I have listed below are good starters.
Where to buy? Go to your local healthfood store or a trusted online shop as most Supermarket brands are a NO (with the exception of pukka). You might as well be infusing sawdust.. Just some of the teabag brands I recommend are Pukka, Heath and Heather, Yogi tea, Salus Haus and Organic India Tulsi Teas. For loose leaf teas, Napiers, Baldwins and Neils Yard are all good and accessible for most- though as mentioned a professional herbalist will be able to put together a customized blend for you. Also look out for Organic Herb Farms here in the UK- see my Resources section for a list. They often sell herbs to the public. Or consider growing your own or go on an organized herb walk with a local herbalist to give you an idea of what growing on your doorstep- for free. I will be adding more on these topics either on the website or in future blogs so keep posted!
Want to know how to make the perfect cup of tea? Come back tomorrow and you’ll find out! Also check out my Herbal Resources page for a list of suppliers.