Spill the Tea

7 Herbal Teas to Make You Healthier

I don’t think I have ever met a tea that I did not like. I am a HUGE tea drinker. In my pantry right now, I probably have about 80 bags of various kinds of herbal tea. I tend to look for a “tea” solution before anything else. I drink tea as a means of preventative maintenance. Within 30 minutes of my feet hitting the ground in the morning, the teapot is going, my cup is prepped and my only dilemma is which tea to drink.

What is herbal tea actually? Herbal tea is made by steeping the flowers, leaves, seeds, roots, stems, and petals of a multitude of plants and flowers. Herbal teas come in hundreds of different varieties, some more common and others that are more obscure, and depending on your area of the world, different types will be more widely available. The health benefits of each type of herbal tea depend on the composition, which may be a single ingredient or a combination of different herbs and flowers. The French use the word tisane, which is a little more accurate, since herbal tea is really just an infusion of leaves, seeds, roots or bark, extracted in hot water. In drinking a well-steeped herbal tea, we get all the plant’s benefits in an easily digestible form. There are countless benefits of drinking herbal tea. “In a lot of ways, we might get more benefit from a good organic tea than from a vitamin pill,’ says herbalist Marianne Beacon of Elderberry Herbals in Peterborough, Ont.

Most herbal teas offer some variety of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, but the specifics depend on the particular herbs and plants that you choose. Common health benefits include relaxing the body and mind, aiding sleep disorders, reducing inflammation, easing the pain, protecting against common diseases, boosting the immune system, optimizing the digestive system, detoxifying the body, and stimulating cognitive function.

How do I choose my tea? When it comes to choosing a herbal tea, it’s important to look for a well-sourced product made from high-quality ingredients. If you’re drinking tea for the medicinal benefits, then definitely steer clear of products that add things like essential oils or flavors.  I don’t buy tea unless it says organic and I see the USDA stamp. To really get the full benefits from drinking herbal tea, make sure you steep your loose tea or tea bags long enough to really bring out all the healthful properties. I leave my bag in my cup until I am done but 10-15 minutes is a good amount of time if you like to remove the bag before drinking.

Anytime you’re ingesting something, you’re giving your body the building blocks it needs to manufacture tissues and hormones. If you drink tea every day, you can make all sorts of significant changes to your mood, your skin, your sense of well-being and energy.

There are so many wonderful herbal teas to choose from. Here are a few of the most common. Don’t be afraid to try something new!

Peppermint tea

Drinking peppermint tea is known to relieve the symptoms of abdominal gas and bloating, and to relieve muscle spasms. It’s also good for nausea (without vomiting) and for heating up the body and making it sweat. If indigestion or heartburn are problems, avoid peppermint altogether. Peppermint tea can also be made using fresh herbs from the garden-and it’s one of the easiest herbs to grow.

Ginger tea

Another great digestive aid, ginger can be used to curb nausea, vomiting or upset stomach due to motion sickness. Make fresh ginger tea by simmering a piece of ginger root on the stove for 10 to 15 minutes-add fresh lemon juice and honey when you have a cold for a powerful germ-fighting combination. This is one of my faves. I just buy the ginger root. You can find it near the lettuce and herbs. 

Chamomile tea

A gentle calming and sedative tea made from flowers, chamomile tea can be helpful for insomnia. It can also be helpful with digestion after a meal. I recommend chamomile in cases of cough and bronchitis, when you have a cold or fever, or as a gargle for inflammation of the mouth. Be sure to steep it well to get all the medicinal benefits.

Rooibos tea

High in vitamin C as well as other minerals, rooibos has all sorts of health benefits. An easy drinking tea, it’s largely grown in South Africa and has been touted for its antioxidant properties-which may in turn help ward off disease and the signs of aging. It has also been shown to help with common skin concerns, such as eczema.

Lemon balm tea

An easy-to-grow plant, lemon balm is helpful for lifting the spirits. It’s good for the winter blahs and it can help improve concentration. It is safe for children and may help prevent nightmares when consumed before bed. This herb also makes a refreshing iced tea, and can be flavored with lemon or maple syrup. Real maple syrup, not Mrs. Butterworth or Auntie Jemima.

Milk thistle and dandelion tea

When consumed as a tea, milk thistle or dandelion are gentle liver cleansers. They help the liver to regenerate and function at a higher capacity. They can also assist in the production of bile, which can help with our digestive process. I do a liver detox a few times a year. 

Rosehip tea

Rosehips are the fruit of the rose plant and are one of the best plant sources of vitamin C, which is important for the immune system, skin and tissue health and adrenal function. Consider reaching for rosehip tea next time you need a health boost.