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

Cold and Flu Remedies

ColdAndFluRemedies

I was immensely blessed to buy an Herbs and Essential Oils Ultimate Bundle a few years ago, which included online classes from various instructors. One of the most helpful of these was the Joybilee Farms “Joybilee Academy DIY Herbal Apothecary.” She has a website here: https://joybileefarm.com/ and I highly recommend anything she offers. I am on her e-mail list and her facebook page.

Colds and flu abound this time of year, and I paste, following, information directly from her course notebook concerning the different stages and different needs; along with recipes for teas. FYI, decoction is when you boil the ingredients, infusion is when you steep the ingredients (like making tea).

My first choice (other than growing my own or buying at a local store) for gathering ingredients is with VitaCost: https://www.vitacost.com/

My second choice is Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/

Other great sites include https://www.planttherapy.com , https://www.mountainroseherbs.com , https://www.frontiercoop.com , https://www.starwest-botanicals.com , and https://www.bulkapothecary.com .

Joybilee Farms Information:

The Five Stages of a Cold

Colds and flu seem to begin with those achy muscles, sometimes sneezing, or sore throat. Often these maladies can be headed off with some judicial use of herbal remedies like vitamin C, elderberry syrup, fire cider, or other common immune boosters. These can be taken hourly at the first sign of a cold or flu. Often that is all you need to overcome the virus. This lesson is about what to do when the immune system is weak, and the body succumbs.

At the point where taking elderberry or fire cider begins to make you feel worse instead of better, try these remedies.

Stage 1 Rest

At the first sign of a cold or flu the most important action is rest. Take the day off. Crawl into bed. Sleep. Think of a cold or the flu as a warning flag that you need more rest. Take antimicrobial mixtures like fire cider, vitamin C, and olive leaf tincture every hour.

Herbs to Support the body at the first sign of a cold or flu

Antimicrobial herbs – Fire Cider, oil of oregano, olive leaf tincture, garlic, onions, ginger, eucalyptus, peppermint,

Immune boosting herbs – echinacea, elderberry, astragalus, olive leaf, peppermint

Tea or hot infusions are the best ways to take herbs for a cold or flu. The fluids help with hydration and elimination. The moist heat helps with sinus congestion and sore throat.

Stage 2: The Hot/Dry Cold

In the second stage of a cold or flu, where there are aches and pains, chills and fever, sore throat, swollen glands, or plugged nose, cooling and moistening herbs are needed. At this stage elderberries and elderflowers help support the immune system. Elderberry prevents viruses from replicating in the body, and if used regularly at this stage of the cold, there is still the hope that the body will overcome the virus.

Try this herbal infusion to help when you are hot and dry.

Yield: 4 cups of herbal infusion

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon elderflowers (cool and slightly dry, expectorant, anti-catarrhal, diaphoretic)

1 teaspoon elderberries (cool and slightly dry, immune stimulant)

1 teaspoon mullein leaf (cool and moist, expectorant, anti-catarrhal, demulcent)

1 teaspoon red clover flowers (cool and moist, lymphatic)

½ teaspoon peppermint leaf (cool and dry, antimicrobial, antiviral, diaphoretic)

Directions:

Combine the herbs in the mesh tea strainer of a 27 ounce cast iron tea pot or tetsubin. Pour boiling water over the herbs. Cover and let sit for 15 minutes. Drink liberally. If you want to make this ahead and package in single serving tea bags, each tea bag should have 1 teaspoon of herb. One teabag is enough for a single cup of herbal infusion.

Stage 3: The Hot/Moist Cold

In the third stage of a cold or flu the person feels feverish and damp. The nose is running. The cough is wet and productive. The mucus is profuse. There is a need for herbs that are cooling, drying, and toning.

Try this herbal infusion to help when you are hot and damp.

Yield: 4 cups of herbal infusion

Ingredients

1 teaspoon peppermint (cool and dry, diaphoretic, antiviral/antimicrobial)

1 teaspoon elderberry (cool and dry, immune stimulant)

1 teaspoon yarrow (cool and dry, diaphoretic, antiviral/microbial, anti-catarrhal)

½ teaspoon mullein leaf (cool and moist, expectorant, anti-catarrhal, demulcent)

½ teaspoon calendula (cool and dry, antimicrobial, lymphatic)

Directions:

Combine the herbs in the mesh tea strainer of a 27 ounce cast iron tea pot or tetsubin. Pour boiling water over the herbs. Cover and let sit for 15 minutes. Drink liberally. If you want to make this ahead and package in single serving tea bags, each tea bag should have 1 teaspoon of herb. One teabag is enough for a single cup of herbal infusion. Drink this freely.

Stage 4 The Cold/Dry Cold

Yield: 4 cups

This herbal decoction will warm up the circulation and ease the dry, hacking cough. Since this herbal blend is made up of roots, it should be made as a decoction rather than an infusion.

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon elecampane (warm and moist, diaphoretic, antimicrobial)

1 teaspoon echinacea root (cool and dry, immune stimulant, anti-catarrhal, antimicrobial, lymphatic)

½ teaspoon licorice (neutral and moist, expectorant, demulcent)

¼ teaspoon ginger powder (hot and dry, diaphoretic, antimicrobial)

Directions:

Simmer roots in 4 cups of boiling water for 20 minutes. Keep the pot covered. Strain and drink hot. If you want to make this ahead and package in single serving tea bags, each tea bag should have 1 teaspoon of herb. One teabag is enough for a single cup of herbal decoction.

Stage 5: The Cold/Moist Cold

This is the stage of cold where the fever is broken but there is lingering sinus issues, sneezing, coughing, and mucus. At this stage warming foods like chili peppers, cinnamon, ginger, and raw garlic help warm up the sinuses and dry up mucus. This is a good time to eat curry and Mexican food. Bitter, drying herbs make the best infusions to help expectorate mucus and calm the lingering cough.

Yield: 4 cups

Ingredients:

½ teaspoon thyme (warm and dry, diaphoretic, expectorant, anti-catarrhal, antimicrobial)

½ teaspoon sage (warm and dry, diaphoretic, antimicrobial, anti-catarrhal)

½ teaspoon calendula (cool and dry, antimicrobial, lymphatic)

½ teaspoon elderberry (cool and dry, immune stimulant)

A pinch cayenne (warm and dry, diaphoretic, anti-catarrhal, antimicrobial)

Directions:

Combine the herbs in the mesh tea strainer of a 27 ounce cast iron tea pot or tetsubin. Pour boiling water over the herbs. Cover and let sit for 15 minutes. Drink liberally. If you want to make this ahead and package in single serving tea bags, each tea bag should have 1 teaspoon of herb. One teabag is enough for a single cup of herbal infusion. Drink this freely.