Recipe Friday: Tea

RecipeFridayTea

Oh, how comforting is a cup of tea! Tea is one of my favorite things to do each day. I was introduced to hot tea by an English woman when I was in high school. She served it to me with 4 lumps of sugar and some cream. So delicious as all those sugars and carbs zipped straight to the pleasure centers of my brain! I was hooked on it as warm, comforting, and satisfying. I have since learned to curb my sweet tooth propensity and look more toward healthy options. I was doing well to make herbal teas with a bit of natural organic honey added until my friend was visiting and I noticed she didn’t put any honey in hers. “Oh,” I thought, “I guess tea doesn’t HAVE TO have sweetener in it at all!” This was a revelation to me. Well, we’re all still learning.

Of course, “a cuppa tea” in casual conversation may refer to a number of hot drinks: infusions, decoctions, herbal teas, green/black/oolong tea, etc. To get that out of the way, I first offer a glossary:

“Tea” technically refers to Camellia sinensis, the leaves of which may be made into  white tea, yellow tea, green tea, oolong, dark tea, and black tea, depending on how the leaves are processed.

“Herbal tea,” or tisane, refers to using the roots, leaves, seeds, bark, or flowers of plants to make a hot drink (stems don’t generally have much medicinal value).

Preparation of plant parts may be divided into

  • Infusion: herbs macerated and steeped in water
    • Quick infusion = 5 minutes in hot water: good for small amounts of herbs. These herbs do well in a quick infusion:
      • Chamomile
      • Sage
      • Peppermint
      • Thyme
      • Tulsi
      • Rosemary
      • Lemon verbena
    • Nourishing herbal infusions are steeped for longer periods, good for pulling out nutrients. Pour hot water over the herb, cover, and let sit for 8 hours or overnight. Some herbs good for nourishing herbal infusions:
      • Linden
      • Hawthorn
      • Plantain
      • Violet
      • Stinging nettle (the most famous nourishing herbal infusion)
      • Mullein
      • Oats
      • Red clover
    • Cold infusion: herbs are infused in cold water for 4 to 8 hours, often placed in a sunny window, can also be placed in the refrigerator
  • Decoction: simmering plant parts for a length of time (20 – 60 minutes)
  • Any of these may be gently re-warmed before you drink.

Cautions:

  • Always know your tea source. Choose organic brands. You do not want to drink teas made from chemically-laden plants.
  • Do not use aluminum pots or pans for preparing tea.
  • Avoid plastics.
  • Drink tea in moderation. Too much of anything is not healthy.
  • Some people are allergic to some plants. Avoid teas made from known allergens (although, some people are able to overcome allergies by ingesting small amounts at a time).

I use the term, “tea” to refer to hot drinks I make from plant parts.

I prefer loose tea, as it is easier to buy and store in bulk. I use mason / glass jars of varying sizes. It is best to store herbs in a cool, dark place. Label your herbs with the name(s) and date. I say name(s) because sometimes I mix herbs together in a big jar to avoid having to mix them every time I want to use them. Tea bags, however, are a convenient and clean way to make tea.

While I buy most of my herbs for teas, I grow a few. Each summer I grow peppermint in a pot; at the end of summer, I dry the leaves, crush, and store them. (I also grow stevia in the summer, and dry and grind the leaves to use as a sweetener.) We have four linden trees in our yard. I discovered them shortly after we moved into the house, and I was following my nose to the source of the rich, flowery scent. I was delighted to find that the flowers and leaves of the linden were not just for show, but were also medicinal. When it came time to prune the branches, we hung them in the garden shed until they dried, then I stripped the leaves and flowers, and stored them in a gallon glass jar.

To make tea:

  • Use filtered water. Your water should be as pure as possible.
  • Bring the water to a boil, then let it cool only slightly.
  • Pour the hot water over the herbs into a cup or teapot. (How much herb? Whatever tickles your fancy at the time. Herbal teas are food, and it would be well nigh impossible to overdose. That said: Please drink responsibly.)
  • Cover the cup or teapot to contain the nutritive oils.
  • A hot pad underneath and a tea cozy atop will help keep everything at the right temperature.
  • After steeping, press the herbs to extract all the benefits you can from the plant parts.
  • Some teas lend themselves to mixing with other teas. Nettle, for instance, while extremely nutritious, tastes pretty “green.” Adding a bit of peppermint or lemon in with the nettle improves the experience.
  • Most people like to add a bit of sweetener to their tea. Honey is the favored choice, and it’s a good one (if you use natural, raw, organic honey) because you add more nutrition (and some say it’s a good way to prevent against seasonal allergies). Please don’t ruin your tea with off-the-shelf sugar. Sugar is like an anti-nutrient, and it grabs all your immune system’s attention for the duration of the digestion and processing of it out of your system. There are other, preferable, sweeteners available, like maple syrup, sucanat, and stevia. (See my post, https://maggietiggles.wordpress.com/2019/10/11/recipe-friday-treat-time-chocolate-mug-cake/ , for a discussion of sweeteners.)

Enjoy drinking your tea. Tea is soothing and nourishing: let it be so.

My favorite go-to tea is a mix of peppermint and stinging nettle. Stinging nettle is a fabulous source of magnesium (along with other nutrients), and many health-conscious writers advocate drinking it daily. [Rosalee de la Foret (at https://learningherbs.com/ and https://www.herbalremediesadvice.org/ ) claims that stinging nettle remains an unsung champion for improving health in many powerful ways. She advocates drinking a nettle infusion daily for general health, as it contains an amazing amount of nutrients that can support your energy level as well as the health of your bones, hair, and teeth.] Peppermint is great for the digestive system. We have our main meal at noon, and I usually have my peppermint/nettle tea afterward. Peppermint is best steeped quickly, and nettle is best steeped in a long infusion. I compromise both. I prepare my peppermint tea bag and my scoopful of nettle in a cup with simmering water, cover it with a small saucer, then put my tea cozy over the whole thing. I let it steep for about 20 minutes (sometimes much longer, if I forget about it).

Another tea I use often is a mixture of elderberry, hawthorn berry, mullein, peppermint, calendula, and stinging nettle. This is a good tea for hot/moist colds, but also good for boosting your immune system. Elderberry prevents viruses from replicating; hawthorn provides Vitamin C; peppermint is antimicrobial and antiviral; mullein protects mucous membranes from inflammation, thereby decreasing mucous secretions; calendula is antimicrobial and assists the lymphatic system; elderberry, hawthorn berry, and peppermint are immune-boosting. I either add the herb mixture to simmering water and continue to simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes; or prepare it as I do the peppermint and nettle.

SO MANY herbs make well into teas (I have most of these at home). I culled the Internet for information, and found most of it at Dr Josh Axe’s site, draxe.com :

  • Green teas are made from leaves that have not been fermented, so they have higher levels of antioxidants.
  • Milk thistle: detoxifying, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, promotes liver and gallbladder health, good for digestion, soothes mucous membranes throughout the body, increases breast milk production
  • Burdock root: cleanses the blood (detoxifier), lymphatic system strengthener, skin healer, natural diuretic
  • Chamomile: antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, promotes tranquility, resolves digestive issues, treats insomnia, relieves mild pain
  • Jasmine green tea: just inhaling the beguiling fragrance is good for my soul. Jasmine improves mood, overcomes stress, and balances hormones.
  • Dandelion leaves: enhances heart health, boosts weight loss, supports liver function (besides making tea, dandelion leaves are a powerhouse of nutrition and are good for consuming, either fresh in a salad, chopped into a pesto, or sautéed with onions)
  • Dandelion root (quite tasty when the root is roasted): promotes good digestion, liver-healthy, benefits cholesterol, good antioxidant, antimicrobial
  • Yarrow: reduces inflammation (especially in the digestive tract), sedative to relieve anxiety or insomnia, stimulates blood flow, helpful for high blood pressure and asthma
  • Turmeric: powerful anti-inflammatory, relieves joint pain, enhances immune function, regulates blood sugar, helps manage cholesterol levels (drinking turmeric tea with pepper, honey, lemon, ghee, or coconut milk can enhance its properties)
  • Barley: cleanses the kidneys, treats kidney stones, flushes out toxins, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antioxidants to safeguard the body against cell damage, stomach pain relief, reduces sleep disturbances, reduces constipation
  • Red clover: benefits for menopause, bone and heart health, balances hormones
  • Moringa: anti-inflammatory; treats thyroid disorders, kidney stones, bacterial, fungal, viral and parasitic infections; high in protein, Vitamin A, potassium, calcium, and Vitamin C; antioxidant; balances hormones; helps improve digestive health; boosts liver function, helps detoxify the body; protects and nourishes the skin; mood stabilizer; protects brain health
  • Licorice root: adaptogenic herb (helps balance, restore and protect the body, helps you respond to any influence or stressor, normalizing your physiological functions), leaky gut remedy, anti-inflammatory, enhances the effects of other herbs to be more beneficial, helps with heartburn and acid reflux, helps with adrenal fatigue, boosts immunity, effective expectorant and soothing demulcent (helps with colds)
  • Matcha green tea: may help prevent cancer, promotes weight loss, speeds up muscle recovery in athletes, high in disease-fighting chatechins (a group of antioxidants), boosts energy, aids in reducing damage from UVB radiation
  • Hibiscus flower: tart, very high in Vitamin C and antioxidants, lowers blood pressure, supports healthy cholesterol and triglycerides, natural antidepressant
  • Ginger: soothes the stomach, enhances immunity, protects brain health, eases pain, increases weight loss, promotes blood sugar control
  • Echinacea: eases pain, functions as a laxative to help loosen the bowels, anti-inflammatory (especially helpful for rheumatoid arthritis), relieves upper respiratory issues, immune-boosting (helps relieve the flu, asthma, common cold, croup, strep throat, whooping cough), fights infection
  • Yerba mate: promotes energy, mental alertness, fights cancer and inflammatory diseases, high antioxidant count, anti-inflammatory, stimulates the immune system, kills colon cancer cells, contains a host of beneficial vitamins, minerals and other health-promoting compounds, reduces cholesterol levels, promotes weight loss
  • Linden: potent sedative, calming, relieves high blood pressure, soothes digestion

More Magnesium

Dr Josh Axe has a great article about our need of, and depletion of, magnesium. I have written about magnesium before, here.  Besides a good diet and finding good supplements, other sources of magnesium are: Epsom salts bath, stinging nettle tea, and magnesium oil (featured in the post I just referenced).

Dr Axe’s full article is found here: https://draxe.com/nutrition/9-signs-magnesium-deficiency/

Some exerpts:

“Magnesium is arguably the most important mineral in the body, which is why magnesium deficiency can be such an issue.

“According to Norman Shealy, MD, Ph.D, an American neurosurgeon and a pioneer in pain medicine, “Every known illness is associated with a magnesium deficiency and it’s the missing cure to many diseases.” Not only does magnesium help regulate calcium, potassium and sodium, but it’s essential for cellular health and a critical component of over 300 biochemical functions in the body.

“Even glutathione, your body’s most powerful antioxidant that has even been called “the master antioxidant,” requires magnesium for its synthesis. Unfortunately, most people are not aware of this, and millions suffer daily from magnesium deficiency without even knowing it.”

Key symptoms of magnesium deficiency: leg cramps, insomnia, muscle pain / fibromyalgia, anxiety, high blood pressure, type II diabetes, fatigue, migraines, and osteoporosis.

Again, please visit Dr Axe’s site to read more: https://draxe.com/nutrition/9-signs-magnesium-deficiency/

Marvelous Magnesium

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I’ve been able to stay healthy enough to limit my doctor visits to a yearly checkup for the past few years. I take one prescription. Much of my strategy involves natural foods and remedies, exercise, sleep, plenty of clean water, and several supplements.

One of my health-building-blocks is magnesium. I take magnesium supplements totaling anywhere from 1500 – 2100 mg throughout the day. The amount varies, depending on what I eat and my activities that day.

How do I know how much to take? The answer to that goes back to the reason I started taking it in the first place: my bowels. To speak plainly, my bowels don’t move unless I kick ‘em with magnesium. I started with low doses, and increased until I reached tolerance (that means that, when my stools got loose, I knew that was a bit too much, and I backed off just a little).

The nice thing about magnesium is, an overdose isn’t dangerous (unless you act foolishly). You might need to stay pretty close to a toilet, but it’s not going to harm you.

Another reason I latched onto magnesium was my restless leg syndrome. I get “jimmy-legs,” as my husband calls them, every night. Often it would prevent me from falling asleep. After starting magnesium, they don’t keep me awake.

Magnesium is great for muscles. That’s why an Epsom salt bath is so good for your muscles – because of the magnesium seeping into you. And I thought of this: your heart is a muscle. I think magnesium must be good for heart health. ❤

Magnesium helps lessen the muscle cramps / twitches / spasms I get every so often, but lately I’ve been getting them anyway. To me, that means I need more magnesium. But I can’t take any more, orally, unless I want to spend my life in the bathroom.

Enter magnesium spray.

(Actually, I put it in a roller bottle; it’s less messy.)

I can use my topical magnesium to help with my muscles, without affecting my bowels.

You can find lots of info about magnesium, and varying recipes for magnesium spray, on the Internet. Here are two I like:

Dr. Eric Zelinski has an informative article and a recipe on his site: https://naturallivingfamily.com/how-to-make-magnesium-oil/

Dr. Carolyn Dean is kind of the magnesium guru. She has developed a formula, which she sells, to increase dosages of magnesium and other minerals without affecting the bowels. She has several websites, but this is a good one to start with: https://drcarolyndean.com/start-here/

I do recommend reading up on magnesium, as this mineral is essential for so many body functions.

I apply it a couple of hours before bed, and I no longer suffer from leg cramps. I also thought to apply it along my neck and shoulders and, oh, my! That’s where I carry my stress, and my neck and shoulder muscles are strung pretty tight. The magnesium roll-on eases that so much.

And one more benefit I’ve noticed: I thought maybe my knees were going bad until I mentioned it to my chiropractor. She gave me an adjustment, but recommended massaging the muscles at the top of my thighs. I’ve been rubbing in my magnesium remedy, and my knees are much better.

Dr. Zelinski’s recipe notes to rinse it off after 5 minutes or so, to allow time to soak in. I don’t rinse it off at all. It does leave a residue, but not one that rubs off onto anything (no nasty white smudges on clothing). When I do rinse, it rinses off right away without soap.

And, even though it’s not made with any oils, it does feel oily.

Here’s the recipe I use:

  • 1 part filtered water
  • 1 part magnesium flakes
  • 2 drops essential oil per ounce of liquid (optional) (suggest something good for muscles, like lavender or peppermint; or something soothing / healing like Frankincense, vetiver, sandalwood)
  1. Boil the water.
  2. Stir in the magnesium flakes until dissolved.
  3. Pour into a glass spray or roll-on container.
  4. Add the essential oil.

I don’t know about the distribution of oils in the magnesium mixture, so you may or may not need to shake the container each time you apply.

No need for refrigeration.

I have also seen recipes that call for 2 parts water to 1 part magnesium flakes.

Magnesium flakes are available at some health food stores, at amazon.com, or vitacost.com.

Because magnesium has helped me so much, I wanted to share the good news with YOU!