Why switching your morning cup of Joe to herbal tea may be beneficial in more ways than one…
Us health-conscious 21st-Century folk are always looking for new ways to improve our insides and feel fabulous, with minimal sacrifice and trouble on our part. It’s therefore no surprise that herbal and fruit teas – many of which are caffeine free – are becoming increasingly popular. The market is simply flooded with these sweet-and-sometimes-strange-smelling blends, plenty of which claim to help improve our wellbeing. So which ingredients should you look out for? That aside, which combinations actually taste nice? Some flavours are bizarre, some plain and some far from palatable. With others, perseverance seems to be the key – the more you drink, the more you like (also my experience with olives). So to save you the infusion confusion, and an endless game of trial and error, here’s a run-down of some of the key ingredients to look out for, and some beauteous brews to tantalise your tea-loving tastebuds.
It’s common knowledge that peppermint has a calming effect on the stomach muscles. Apparently it creates a better bile flow – yuck. But did you know that it also helps to kill bacteria and viruses? These pretty leaves are also under the microscope in relation to their possible cancer-preventing properties.
Try: Whittard’s Organic Peppermint Herbal Infusion – fresh and punchy, it’ll help to lift your morning.
As well as adding a little kick to your tea, ginger aids digestion and also helps to relieve gastro pain and queasy tummies. It contains high levels of gingerol, which apparently has anti-inflammatory properties. Sip a cup of ginger tea before you go on a journey, and recent studies have shown that you’re less likely to suffer from horrible motion sickness.
Try: Birt and Tang Ginger Twist; the twist being the addition of lemongrass, cardamom and cinnamon. Exotic and refreshing all at the same time.
Apparently these zesty little lovelies have antibacterial, antiviral and immune-boosting powers, helping to ward off winter germs. Lemon juice also aids digestion and acts as a liver cleanser. A lemon a day…
Try: Teapigs’ Lemon and Ginger – an office favourite, providing a delicious wake-up for sleepy writers.
You may have seen it in the news a few months ago – the biggest study ever into this herbal remedy, which seems to have proven once and for all that it can help reduce the number of colds caught by the lurgy-prone, as well as the duration of the illness.
Try: Sainsbury’s own Cranberry, Raspberry & Echinacea Tea. It’s fruity and light, but with lots of that lovely immune-boosting echinacea.
Marketed for its soothing effects and most commonly used to lull drinkers into peaceful slumber (it has sedative properties), camomile is undergoing research into its potential for treating anxiety. These pretty, daisy-like plants also help to fight colds and banish menstrual cramps, thanks to anti-inflammatory and antiseptic attributes.
Try: Pukka’s sweet but mellow golden Chamomile and Vanilla variety.
Going green is certainly worth considering. It may not be a strictly herbal variety but green tea is used extensively in Chinese medicine, and there seems to be a near-endless list of reasons to drink it. Researchers recently concluded that one sneaky ingredient actually hinders the growth of cancer cells and lowers cholesterol levels; while The British Journal of Nutrition has suggested that glugging more than three cups of green tea a day can protect against cell deterioration as we get older.
Try: Clipper Fairtrade Green Tea with Echinacea, enhanced with Citrus Flavours. The tangy citrus cuts through the sometimes seaweedy flavour of green tea, making this a must-try.
Those conscious of their complexion might choose a fruity tea to help protect against that nasty cell damage which makes us look weather-worn. By opting for fruit tea rather than black tea or coffee, you are also cutting out the added calories and fat from sugar and milk. Additionally, fruit teas can be full of vitamin C and even more of those lovely antioxidants. We can’t get enough.
Try: Twinings Apple Crunch. It actually tastes like apples. Or, for something a little different, try a vegetable tea – Natur Boutique’s Artichoke Tea is unusually savoury-tasting, but refreshing all the same, and great for digestion.
High in antioxidants and with lower tannin levels than black tea, rooibos has been highlighted for its ability to relieve nervous tension, help with the symptoms of allergies and ease digestive problems.
Try: Joe’s Tea Co. Chocco-Roo-Brew for a bit of luxury tea-time.
So, there you have it. To keep bugs at bay, your digestive system working perfectly, and further-research-only-knows what else, banish the espresso, throw out the black tea, abandon the latte and don’t even think about a mocha; from here on in, it’s all about the herbal blends.