Making herbal tea is simple. There are many herbs that are routinely used as tea. Chamomile, mint, lemon balm… they all make delicious tea. Herbal teas can be made with a single herb or with a combination of herbs for a more complex taste. Herbal teas have the benefit of not only great taste, but can have many health benefits. Single teas like chamomile or red raspberry leaf are often taken for their beneficial qualities. Chamomile helps you relax and promotes a good night’s sleep. Red raspberry leaf is good for toning the reproductive organs. Both are also full of nutrients. You can use either fresh or dried parts of the herb. With chamomile, you use the flowers. Many herbs, like red raspberry, use just the leaves. You will need more of the fresh herb than if using dried herbs. Use one-half to one teaspoon of fresh herb to one cup of hot water.
Heat up your water to just below boiling. Put the herbs in and let them steep five to ten minutes. This will produce a tea that contains many of the important compounds found in the herb. Strain your tea before drinking and add honey, if you prefer to sweeten your tea. Many people prefer to drink their herb tea without sweetening.
Peppermint is a soothing and cooling tea. Mint comes in many varieties including apple, chocolate and orange. Mint tea can be enjoyed as it helps you relieve headaches, colds, insomnia and abdominal pains. Lemon balm is related to mint. It is mild and gentle with a light lemon flavor. It is also beneficial when you are feeling a little down in the dumps. Another mint relative, catnip, makes a wonderfully relaxing tea.
Other herbs may need to be ordered from a supplier since they are not commonly grown in the garden. Two that come to mind, include alfalfa and stinging nettle. Both of these herbs are very nutritious and offer vitamins and minerals that help your body remain healthy. Alfalfa, for instance, contains vitamin K, which helps your blood clot effectively. These two herbs have a green flavor. They can be mixed together or they can be used as single herb tea.
Even if you buy herbal teas at the store already packaged in the form of tea bags, you can enjoy the wonderful flavors they impart. You may find combinations with hibiscus flowers, rose hips, peppermint, lemon, orange peel and many other exciting ingredients. However, it is easy to make them yourself. If you look around, you can find loose herbal teas available that are much better than what you can get from a teabag. Experiment a bit using either single flavor or combination and adjust the strength to your particular taste. Put your loose tea inside a ‘tea ball’ before dropping it in the hot water. A tea ball is usually made of perforated metal or fine mesh screen, sometimes in unusual shapes such as a miniature teapot or animal shape. It is important to be sure the tea ball is made of good grade stainless steel so as to prevent the ball from rusting. Also available are fine mesh muslin individual bags with a tie string, but these are for single use only (you use them once and toss in the trash). Either way, a tea ball may be used in a teapot or individual cup to keep the leaves from being left in your tea when you are done steeping. Quite convenient!
Herb tea can also be chilled and served as iced tea. Many herb teas make delicious cold teas. Blackberry tea, for example, is made of dried blackberry leaves. It is delightful when it is chilled. Experiment a bit and see what you like best.
By: Carl Olsen
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