Living with Herbs
The heat is on – and your body needs more liquids. There are a lot of healthy (herbal) drinks that really taste good. Try Green Ice Tea, Hibiscus, Rosehip, and Peppermint. Don’t turn to ready-made ‘Ice-Tea’. Make your own. It’s easy and more beneficial for your health.
Learn about health benefits and see our recipe ideas.
If you drink herbal teas instead of soft drinks, industrial made ice tea, or even just water, you get a lot of nutritional and health benefits. Here are some examples.
Hibiscus (botanical name hibiscus sabdariffa)
Let’s start with hibiscus. Hibiscus is a subtropical flowering plant. You may have hibiscus in your yard, but these plants are cultivated just for that purpose: blooming in your yard. It has to be the original bright red flowering kind that may be used for teas.
Traditionally hibiscus was used as a tea to ease congestion. Research suggests that drinking hibiscus tea may help control hypertension (especially in people with type 2 diabetes), may have cholesterol-lowering effects. All in all Hibiscus may help reduce blood glucose and triglycerides and increase HDL-Cholesterol levels in people with metabolic syndrome.
Hibiscus Tea has a slight sourly fruity taste. It's really refreshing. Try and see for yourself.
Rosehip (botanical name rosa canina)
Rosehip is native to Europe. The hips of the dog rose were a popular sweet in the Middle Ages. Immigrants brought it to the US.
Rosehips have extremely high levels of vitamins and other nutrients in a form that is readily absorbed by the body.
Research suggests that rosehip reduces osteoarthritis pain. It is mildly sedative, and good in combination with hibiscus for assisting in high blood pressure management.
Rosehips have seeds inside. Tea should be made out of just the (dried) fruit flesh. It will not be as bright red as hibiscus – so we recommend mixing it.
Green Tea (botanical name camellia sinensis)
Green Tea is the same plant as black tea. The leaves are processed in a different way that preserves the integrity of the nutrients, especially the polyphenols that are believed to be responsible for the antioxidant activity of green tea.
Research suggests that regular Green Tea drinkers may have a lower risk of developing heart disease and certain types of cancer. Latest studies suggest the effect of Green Tea consumption on weight-loss maintenance.
When you drink green tea, don’t use powdered versions in teabags. The best thing is to make your own tea out of real tea leaves. Use a strainer. Try ‘Gun powder Tea’. The tea leaves are rolled into little pearls (like gun powder). They expand when brewed into tea. This way most of the nutritional value is conserved.
Rosemary Water (botanical name rosmarinus officinalis)
Create your very own designer water: Put a string of fresh Rosemary into your water. It will taste just faintly of Rosemary.
Rosemary stimulates circulation of blood to the head, this way improving memory and concentration.
Peppermint (botanical name mentha piperita)
Peppermint is an herb you may grow in your backyard or in pots. It has a very fresh taste – ideal for cool summer drinks. If you use fresh peppermint, you will need about 4 times as much as if you use dried leaves. The volatile oil is more intensive in dried leaves.
Research suggests that Peppermint has an antispasmodic effect on the digestive system.
Traditionally Peppermint is used to help with all kinds of digestive problems, to soothe an irritated bowel. It is especially used to calm an upset stomach.
Spearmint (botanical name mentha spicatta)
Spearmint has a very special flavor that derives from volatile oils including 'menthol'. Smell and taste are more intensive than peppermint. Native to the Mediterranean area, it is spread today all over America and Europe.
Spearmint - like other mints - will calm your stomach and the smell will brighten your spirit.
How to brew an herbal tea
All these herbs you may just brew into a tea. Use boiling water (cooked in a water heater or with a dripping coffee machine). For measures 1 teaspoon per cup of water is suggested. If using a strainer, make sure it is not packed. Fill just ¼ to its capacity. The tea will expand and water has to flow freely. Let cool, put in fridge to cool even more. Using ice made of water will dilute the drink and reduce the flavor. If you do not want this, freeze some tea to ice cubes and add these to your next (cool) tea pot.
Try these recipe ideas
If you want it sweet, add genuine Stevia to any kind of tea. Put crushed Stevia leaves into a strainer, swirl around and take out.
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It's easy and healthy using more herbs: 'Living With Herbs' is a blog giving little tips, recipes, and information on herbs.
Dr. Angela C. Fritz