By ANNA MARIE BEAUCHEMIN
Special to the Gazette
Of all the wonders that the herbal world bestows, my favorite medicine almost always comes in the form of tea. Putting the kettle on, choosing the herbs, waiting for the brew to complete, and finally – the settle in and sip. No matter how you lay it out, there’s just something magical about making yourself a cup of tea.
If you were paying attention in history class (wink, wink), you may remember that tea has actually been a pretty big part of many cultures (including our own) for a very long time. From traditional tea ceremonies to the afternoon cuppa – everyone in every place has their own unique way of doing tea, and of course, their favorite leaves to brew.
While many of us enjoy teas for their tastes and associated rituals, herbal teas are also an incredibly effective way to enjoy the medicinal properties of plants. So effective, in fact, that teas are one of the oldest forms of administering herbal medicine that there is. Dating back to the Shang dynasty the history of tea and its use as medicine is thousands of years old.
When we look at tea, it is really no surprise that these healing concoctions have been around for as long as they have. Making tea is easy, accessible, and can frequently be done with herbs and plants growing right outside your door. I like to think of tea as the gateway to herbal medicine – it’s relatable, it’s simple, and it’s generally pretty inexpensive. Whether you purchase pre-mixed tea bags at the store (my favorites are Traditional Medicinals and Organic India), or you buy loose leaf teas in bulk and create your own whimsical blends – making tea is easy and good for your health.
What’s better yet? There are endless ways to customize your tea to make it specific to your own needs. Feeling bloated after a big meal? Try some fennel, ginger, or orange peel. Feeling stressed? Bust out the chamomile. Agitated by the summer heat? Grab some mint or lemon verbena from the garden. Feeling blue over a recent breakup? Bring on the linden! No matter how you spin it, there’s almost always a tea to save the day.
One thing I should point out – and this may come as a shock – is that there is in fact, a right and a wrong way to make medicinal quality tea. Next time you go to brew up your favorite cup of herbal tea, try the method below and see if you notice a difference. By brewing tea the medicinal way, you ensure that your herbal blends will pack the biggest therapeutic punch that they can.
How To Make Tea The Medicinal Way
- Select the Tea: If you’re using loose leaf, you will want to use roughly one tablespoon per cup of water. Using a tea bag? Try two instead of one.
- Boil and Cover: After your kettle comes to a boil, turn the heat off, let it sit for a second, then pour the steamy hot water over your tea.
- Cover and Rest: Cover your cup with a small plate or bowl and let it sit for 10-20 minutes.
- Strain and Enjoy: Remove the tea bags or strain the loose leaves out – and voila!
- Think I am crazy for suggesting hot tea when it’s been in the 80’s? Make iced tea! Let your freshly brewed tea cool to room temperature and then store covered in the fridge for 1-2 days. Any herbal tea can quickly become an iced treat on a hot day!
Want to learn more about the magic of herbal iced teas and other refreshing botanical beverages? Check out my free workshop at Harvest House in Concord, on June 10th, 11:00 am – 12:00 pm!
Note: The information presented in this article is for educational purposes only. For more information about local, seasonal, herbal remedies and regional botanical information, check back on the first Sunday of every month for the Hometown Herbalist column.
Anna Marie Beauchemin is a trained Clinical Western Herbalist and Biologist. Born and raised in Martinez, California, she is passionate about sharing her craft with her community and helping people to find balance and wellness in their lives. She runs her practice in downtown Martinez – offering herbal consultations and custom formulations, herbal education, product development and consulting, and community herb walks. For more information about her services contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website at eastbayherbals.com.
Main Story Photo Caption:
Chamomile from The Sonoma County Herb Exchange. Photo by Anna Beauchemin