Let me start off this post with a confession. I am obsessed with teas! I have a cupboard full of teas. All kinds. Black. Red. White. Herbal. Fruit. Oolong. Green. You name it and I have it. My tea obsession has turned into a major storage issue. But I digress.
The reason I love teas is that they come in endless varieties. You can never get bored with tea. More importantly, our ancestors have brewed herbs for centuries for medicinal use. Herbal teas have incredible healing properties that the modern world is now re-discovering.
What inspired this post was a trip to the gorgeous and serene botanical gardens at Cornell University known as Cornell Plantations, with my wonderful parents who were visiting from Dubai. Although this was my second visit to the plantations, this time around I spent a lot more time in the herb garden that featured over 500 varieties of herbs including culinary, tea, medicinal, ancient, fragrant, and sacred herbs. My dad (agricultural engineer and avid gardener), mom (avid gardener and awesome cook), and I (aspiring windowsill gardener and foodie) were like kids in a candy shop, exploring all the various herbs and reading up on their properties. We were blown away by how many benefits some of these herbs can provide to the various systems in our bodies.
This inspired me to think about 3 herbal teas that I cannot live without. So here I share with you the 3 teas that I think every pantry (medicine cabinet) should have. And keep in mind friends, your pantry IS your medicine cabinet if you believe that foods can heal you!
1. Mint: have a date? Drink some peppermint tea for some truly fresh breath that lasts hours! Have a sore throat? Try mint tea with honey, lemon, and ginger. Stomach issues? Put on a pot (no pun intended) of peppermint tea to ease digestion and calm the tummy. Mint is my go-to herb for all things digestion-related as stimulates the digestive enzymes in our stomach. It also helps with nausea, headaches, skin irritations, and detoxing our blood. A bonus is the great, refreshing flavour! It can provide a flavourful burst of energy the next time you are hitting a wall in the middle of a long day.
2. Skull cap: this awesome herb works wonders for those butterflies before a big presentation or general stress and anxiety. Skullcap gets its name from its blue flowers that look like skullcaps worn in medieval times. Historically used as a remedy for rabies symptoms, I have come to love this herb for its nervine qualities. It calms down the nervous system, eases muscle tension and acts as a mild sedative for sleep disorders such as insomnia. Due to its relaxing action on muscles, it is helpful for Parkinson’s and epilepsy symptoms. Skull cap has anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine properties, which means it can help with everything from IBS to arthritis and mucus congestion. I love this herb for its multi-faceted benefits, and always grab a quick cup of skull cap when my nerves are getting the best of me.
3. Rooibos: this flavourful and vibrant tea from South Africa is packed with Vitamin C and minerals such as Magnesium (nerve, bone and muscle health), Calcium (bone health), Manganese (bone health and general metabolism), Zinc (immune system) and Iron (blood formation and oxygenation). Rooibos also contains two polyphenol antioxidants called aspalathin and nothogain that protect our bodies from free radical damage. This tea’s antioxidant, anti-mutagenic (protecting cells against DNA damage) and high mineral and Vitamin C content, makes it a natural choice for maintaining the immune system and preventing cancer. And if that wasn’t enough, rooibos tea is also great for improving acne, psoriasis and eczema, preventing Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and promoting restful sleep. Booyah!
BONUS: A blog post about useful herbal teas would be incomplete without a mention of Ginger Tea, the effective and dependable perennial root that has numerous health benefits. Ginger is antiseptic, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial. That’s a lot of ‘anti’ action right there! It also helps with digestion, motion sickness, stress management and boosting immune response. I add ginger to most cooked dishes for its great flavour and to take advantage of all the wonderful properties of this amazing ingredient. If I ever feel a sickness coming on, I immediately brew a pot of ginger tea (checkout my recipe) and it almost always helps me kick the cold, flu, digestive upset or sore throat. Long live ginger!
What’s your go-to herbal tea? Share with us!