Tuesday, 7 October 2008

My Favourite Herbal Teas

It's now 10 days since I gave up drinking coffee and tried to ditch caffeine, for health reasons, I'm now so they tell me peri-menopausal and apparently caffeine is one of the things I should avoid. I doubt seriously I'll be able to give up caffeine entirely, a life without chocolate seems terrifying for a chocolate lover, but I can reduce my caffeine intake, and for someone who drank 3 - 6 cups a day that's a big step. I do miss my early morning caffeine injection, but I'm getting to love the herb tea substitutes.

Herb teas to me until now have been things to take medicinally e.g. peppermint when I feel sick, chamomile when I can't sleep etc, and I do make my own herb teas, but until now I'd never blended them to drink throughout the day every day. In the past I tried the herbal tea bags by companies like Twinings, only to discover that they all tasted the same, and when you read the packet its mostly flavourings and no actual herbs!

Needing to have an instant life sometimes and being out and about means I can't always make tea in the teapot, so herbal bags are portable and useful, but as most of the commercial herb teas are just not good for me I've had to abandon them. So I was delighted when I found a company that do real herb teas in bag form, great for when you're on the move. What's more the teas are all organic with biodegradable bags to, the company is Pukka Herbs, my favourite so far is the Refresh Tea that contains peppermint, roses, hibiscus flowers, fennel seed, coriander seed and liquorice.

My favourite home tea blend at the moment is lavender and lemon balm, hot on its heals is lemon verbena on its own, and also lemon verbena, orange peel and lemon scented geranium. I also like a cup of basil and orange tea, that's fresh basil leaves, a little orange zest and the juice of an orange. Rose petal and rose geranium leaf is also a lovely relaxing combination. I'm also trying to reduce sugar intake and I've been adding a little chopped Stevia leaf to the mixes to give me a natural sweetness, so the brews are healthier and taste just as sweet. As the weather is now getting colder I'm also beginning to experiment with spicy herb teas, my friend Sarah gave me some great recipes last winter for Chai teas and other spicy combinations, so I'll dig out the recipes again. On my current fav list of spicy teas are ginger and lemon which is lovely and great for colds to, I also like Chamomile and spiced apple tea, which I make with cloudy apple juice, so not sure if its a tea or not, but I drink it as a tea.

Chamomile & Spiced Apple Tea

1 Mug Organic Cloudy Apple Juice
1 tsp Chamomile Flowers
1/4 of a Cinnamon Stick (or a good pinch ground cinnamon)

Method - Put the apple juice, chamomile and cinnamon in a pan and gently warm through, don't let it boil! Leave it to infuse for 5 - 10 minutes and strain into a mug. really warming and soothing and great tea to aid digestion.

Pick Me Up Tea

2 Tsps Dried Lemon Verbena
1 Tsp Dried Lemon Balm
1 Tsp Dried Lemon Thyme
1 Tsp Dried Spearmint

Method - Put all the dried herbs into a teapot big enough for 4 cups and pour on boiling water. Leave to stand for 10-15 minutes and strain into a cup sweeten with sugar or honey as desired.
Notes:- You can use fresh herbs for this tea if preferred, if using fresh, substitute tablespoons for the teaspoons.

To make a good bedtime tea you can omit the lemon thyme and add 1 tsp of chamomile flowers to the mix.

I'll post more of my tea recipes soon, and will update on any new combinations I find. If you're new to herb teas then this article on Wikipedia is useful Herb Teas.