Herbal Teas

Since the beginning, people have been using teas in the form of a hot beverage as well as a remedy. Available records suggest that people in China have been drinking tea since 4,700 years back. Although several features of the Chinese culture reached Japan roughly about 600 C.E. (Common Era, which is the same as A.D.), these actually integrated completely into the life of the Japanese after another 700 years. Tea was familiar to the people in Japan by its Cantonese (a type of Chinese spoken by inhabitants of Canton and Hong Kong in southeast China) name – ch’a.

When people in Europe were being familiar with using coffee around the 17th century, traders from Netherlands carried tea along with them from China while returning to their country. It may be noted here that coffee was introduced to Europe from Turkey, while tea was initially known as ‘tee’, which was derived from the term t’e in Chinese Amoy parlance and pronounced as ‘tay’. In spite of the fact that tea was very expensive in the early days, this beverage quickly spread all over Europe and replaced coffee in a number of places as the preferred beverage.

The British government imposed a special tax on tea as well as many other items in 1767 somewhat in order to reiterate its position as a powerful colonial ruler. This move produced an adverse reaction, as the colonists started staying away from tea and once again began using its substitutes, especially coffee. Interestingly, a section of the local physicians and clergy urged the colonists to refrain from consuming tea attributing a wide variety of ills as well as evils to this beverage.

Boycotting tea turned out to be a rallying point for the emergent movement for independence from colonial rule. As a result, the colonists started devastating all shipments carrying tea to the harbors in the East Coast. On December 16, 1773, some citizens camouflaged as Indians entered three ships anchored in Boston and dumped all tea consignments into the harbor. Known as the ‘Boston Tea Party’, this incident, as well as the reprisals of the British government, facilitated the American Revolution.

Initially, the British government failed to realize all the implications of the Boston Tea Party. Reports published in newspapers in London about a month after the incident did not focus that much on the political significance of the occurrences in Boston, but highlighted the effects of the tea dumped into the Boston Harbor on the fish there. According to one such newspaper report, the fish had developed a disorder something that was not different from the nervous problems experienced by the body. The huge amount of tea that was thrown into the Boston Harbor had actually supplied the fish with a potent caffeine dosage.

During those days, the majority of the tea supplies were from China. The British government enjoyed a virtual monopoly over tea trade via the East India Company. Although the commercial agreement between China and Britain lapsed in 1833, the British government’s control on the important tea trade became more and more insecure. All through the remaining part of the 19th century, the government emphasized on developing tea plantations in India and the regions adjoining the country. Nevertheless, the Chinese variety of tea did not grow as expected in the conditions prevailing in the Indian sub-continent. Finally, the tea plantations turned out to be successful only when people started cultivating the variety of tea that originated in Assam. However, till as late as the 1870’s, over 90 percent of the tea consumed in Britain was imported from China.

In the early part of the 19th century, the British levied a domestic tax on the use of tea, which was 15 fold more than the tax imposed on coffee, and this certainly worsened the uncertainty over the British grasp on tea trading. As a result, between 1800 and 1840, the use of coffee increased ten times in Britain. It was during this period that the popularity of coffee surpassed that of tea. However, soon a succession of coffee adulteration’s prompted several people to revert to consuming tea. The miseries of the coffee buyers, as well as consumers, increased as it was discovered that several substances like roasted corn, chicory, vegetable roots and even roasted horse liver were added to coffee by some unscrupulous traders to increase the volume of pounded coffee. In addition, the government also slashed the taxes levied on tea during the middle of the 19th century. Consequently, once again tea emerged as the preferred beverage of the British people.

Tea is known to possess some miraculous powers. While this beverage cheers up the lonely, it also brings the sociable together. Consumption of tea helps to stimulate people living in countries with the hot climatic condition while heating up the body of those living in cold climes. It also possesses the aptitude to ease or cure different ailments related to the body as well as the soul. Drinking tea provides different types of pleasures – it has the ability to make us dream, cultivate our minds, make us relax, heal us physically, mentally and spiritually as well as allowing us to become oblivious of the time and place. The tea drinking ceremony is related to warmth, enjoyable aromas, and console. Tea also helps to seduce our senses. When we are under stress or in a hurry, most of us seek peace as well as contemplation by drinking a cup of hot tea. In fact, the number of people who drink tea is increasing every day.

There is a very long history associated with tea preparation from a remarkable assortment of plants. Similarly, there is a long history related to using tea for meditative as well as spiritual purposes. Available documents reveal that the sages of the Far East (east and southeast Asia), priests of primeval Egypt, medical practitioners of Arabia, wise women of Europe, as well as the shamans of the North American Indians and also the rain forests were all familiar with using tea in the contemplative life. Right from the initial days, tea was used in the form of a beverage as well as remedy. In addition, tea also brings with it the beliefs of all people who have brewed this beverage and also prescribed it as a medicine. Owing to all the reasons mentioned above, teas prepared from enchanting herbs present a very unique type of contentment. Messengers hailing from the place where these teas originated let us know much of the history, civilizations that have gone centuries back, strange societies, forgotten traditions, women’s lore, exotica as well as erotica.

Writing about tea and coffee in 1842, the noted German chemist Justus Liebig, who has done numerous innovative works on physiology, organic chemistry and pathology, stated that perhaps one will never be able to determine the manner in which humans first started taking pleasure from drinking hot infusions prepared by boiling leaves of specific plants or drinking the concoction of roasted or boiled seeds of other plants. He argued that there still ought to be some sort of an account as to the manner in which these infusions turned out to be essential requirements in the lives of people of all the countries. According to Liebig, what is more, surprising is that it is important to attribute the beneficial outcome on the body of the humans to precisely the identical chemical constituent of both plants – something which one may not have considered even in their wildest thoughts. In spite of everything, the fact remains that these shrubs are not only members of altogether dissimilar plant families and have their origin in two distinct continents.

Herbal tea

Tisane (the French term for aromatic herbal tea) is actually a catchall expression for any beverage without caffeine content and prepared by infusing the herbs, spices or different parts of plants in water; or a decoction made from these materials. All such drinks are different from beverages containing caffeine, such as tea, kuding, maté as well as various true teas, which include green, black, and oolong, yellow as well as other varieties of teas. Tisane is also different from decaffeinated tea, wherein the caffeine content is removed. Besides being used in the form of a beverage, people also consume several tisanes owing to the medical benefits they offer.

Health benefits of herbal teas

Since long ago people have related the benefits of consuming herbal teas to rest as well as recreation. On the other hand, if you take a look at the different herbal teas and the general health benefits offered by them, you are likely to rush out of your home or office and buy at least a couple of these herbal supplements meant for preparing teas. Benefits offered by some of the herbs commonly used to prepare teas are discussed briefly below.

Burdock: An herbal tea prepared from this herb purifies the blood and, at the same time, regulates the blood sugar levels. People preferring this herbal tea and have received the benefits have reported that physicians have recommended that people suffering from problems related to the liver experience sudden improvements in their condition. The herbal tea prepared from burdock, however, does not cure the liver problems completely.

Chamomile: The herbal tea prepared from chamomile is comparatively more popular among people. This tea is beneficial for treating stomach disorders like acid reflux and also helps in easing anxiety and problems related to the nerves. It is also effective for treating the symptoms associated with common cold. As it is very easy to consume chamomile teas, several people discover that they have actually developed a liking for its flavor.

Damiana: This herbal tea is prepared from an herbal supplement that has been reputed for the health benefits it offers. This herbal tea is beneficial for people who have been suffering from depression. In addition, it is also a diuretic, a tonic and offers several other general health assistances.

Dandelion: Teas prepared from this herb are becoming increasingly popular, as they are being used extensively in the form of a diuretic. Dandelion teas are also useful in augmenting the functioning of the liver.

Fennel: Drinking fennel tea prepared from an herbal supplement is beneficial for people with tender throat and suffering from a cough. Besides, this herbal tea also helps in easing stomach cramps. One of the most noticeable effects of using fennel tea is weight gain and, hence, one needs to be careful while choosing to drink this herbal tea. However, this tea is beneficial for people who want to put on weight. Fennel tea is also effectual in improving one’s appetite.

Green tea: Perhaps, this herbal tea is most popular among all people who drink herbal tea. Even advocates of herbal tea particularly highlight the benefits of drinking green tea. This herbal tea offers an assortment of health benefits. In addition to augmenting the overall circulation, green tea also aids in combating the flu virus, lessening the levels of blood sugar, and reducing cholesterol levels. Green tea also helps us in combating all types of bacterial infections all over the body. Most importantly, green tea is a potent antioxidant that detoxifies the body, thereby protecting us from several diseases, including cancer.

Ginger tea: This herbal tea is beneficial for people suffering from cold and symptoms akin to those associated with the flu. In addition, drinking ginger tea also helps in relieving stomach cramps and nausea, in addition to enhancing general circulation throughout the body. Ginger is one herbal supplement that is often forgotten. However, it is definitely wonderful to have ginger tea, as it not only has a spicy flavor but is also beneficial for our overall health and wellness.

Hawthorn: Herbal teas prepared from this herb are popular among people consuming herbal tea for immediate results. Hawthorn tea is reputed for facilitating blood purification and helping reduce the blood sugar levels. In addition, this herbal tea is also effective in treating major liver problems.

Kava Kava: It is believed that drinking kava tea is beneficial for people with heart ailments, as it works to sustain the overall health of the heart. This herbal tea has also been credited for reducing cholesterol levels and aiding in sustaining a healthy blood pressure. In general, this herbal tea is known to be a heart healthy tea.

Lemon balm tea: Herbal tea prepared with lemon balm is reputed for treating various stomach problems effectively. In addition, this herbal tea is also said to be helpful in lifting moods and spirit and, at the same time, effective in soothing agitated nerves.

Rosemary tea: This herbal tea is highly flavorful and also offers several health benefits, including easing problems related to the liver, augmenting overall circulation, and relieving joint pain as well as complications associated with headaches. This tea is also soothing and has a delightful taste.

Skullcap: This is an herbal supplement, which is also available in the form of a tea. Consumption of teas prepared from skull cap helps in soothing tense nerves and pacifying anxiety. You may use this herbal tea daily in the form of a beneficial herbal supplement for maintaining your overall psychological health as well as well-being.

Drinking herbal teas is certainly one of the excellent ways to perk up your deteriorating health as well as sustain your overall health and wellness, as they provide us with a wide range of benefits. On the other hand, if you are one of those who consumes excessive alcoholic beverages or takes different drugs, you essentially need to consult a physician before including herbal supplements in your daily diet. Although herbal teas are credited for providing us with an assortment of health benefits, when consumed in conjunction with alcohol or specific medications, it may result in undesirable side effects. Therefore, it is advisable that you exercise caution while using herbal teas.

It is important that before you start using any herbal supplement, you ought to learn what the supplements you choose can do when taken in conjunction with prescription drugs, non-prescription drugs or with alcohol.

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Honeysuckle – August Flower of the Month.

Lonicera japonica

Family: Adoxaceae, syn. Caprifoliaceae

This lovely, cascading, woody vine, with its divine scent, is often planted as a landscape attraction. It dazzles the eye with its gorgeous blooms in warm weather and retreats to a pleasant but unremarkable placeholder at other times of the year. Its name refers to the fact that fairies {and everyone else} love to sip the nectar from the flowers. There are well over 100 different species, and at least, 15 are used medicinally.

Description..

Honeysuckle is a perennial, deciduous or evergreen climbing shrub that typically wraps tightly around other plants or a support. It can grow to over 20 feet long and is invasive enough to be considered a noxious weed in the eastern United States. The tubular flowers bloom in the summer and are a pale yellow, sometimes tinged with pink, that turns a darker golden color as they age. Orangish red fruits that are rather nasty-tasting but are attractive to birds occur in clusters following the flowers in the fall.

Preparations and Dosage.

Make a strong infusion by steeping the flowers for as long as 30 minutes, or even gently simmer them, and drink 1/2 to 1 cup twice daily, or as often as desired. Honeysuckle also makes a delicious syrup. It’s found commercially in powder, granule, extract, and tablet form. Follow the directions on the product label.

Healing Properties.

The flowers {or flowers plus young stems} are mildly antibiotic and antiviral and are used to treat colds and flu. They are also recommended in traditional Chinese medicine {TCM} for the relief of upper respiratory tract infections, fevers, bronchitis, sore throat, heat stroke, and diarrhea. The tea is also known for healing boils and other skin infections, as it helps to remove “fire toxins” {a TCM description that refers to metabolic waste buildup and inflammation} from your body. Teenagers and anyone who is prone to acne, boils, and sties can drink the refreshing tea daily to reap the strongest benefits.

Western herbalists recommend taking the flower tea or extract to relieve hot flashes, to prevent and promote healing of urinary tract infections, and to treat skin conditions like acne, boils, and eczema. The whole vine, including the leaves and twigs, can be decocted and used as a compress for treating burns, sores, and acne.

Safety.

The flowers and twigs are considered nontoxic by traditional Chinese medical practitioners.

In the Garden.

Honeysuckle is frost hardy, heat tolerant, and sturdy; it’s an easy plant to have around. If you want to create a hedge or fence-row, plant honeysuckle vines 3 feet apart, and expect them to push those bounds unless you trim them back during the dormant season. Honeysuckle likes moist, rich soil but is adaptable and somewhat drought tolerant once it’s large, and it will do well in full sun {or even partial shade, in hot climates}. Start it from seed, if you’re willing to wait a month or two for germination {stratification helps}, or take stem cuttings in the spring or woody cuttings in the fall. Easier yet, try layering a neighbor’s plant. Be sure to provide a trellis or fence for it to climb. Stems will trail along the ground, and you may want to prune them back for a tidier look.

Harvesting Honeysuckle.

Collect the flowers when they are just starting to open and are lovely, fresh and have a creamy hue. {Older, orange flowers will dry to a brown color.} Be sure to pick them every few days. As with all flowers, honeysuckle blooms are fragile and will bruise easily, so gather them in the morning, before the warmth of the day has compromised their freshness. Dry them immediately after harvest, at a low temperature and out of the sun. Tender stems may be collected also; they contain many of the same compounds.

Directions For How To Make Rose Oil Using The Cold Infusion Method.

 

Work with intention, allowing space in your busy life to be present. It is fitting to say a short blessing or prayer that the final product is an effective healer.

Rosa centifolia and Rosa damascena are the most commonly available Roses and are well-suited for herbal skin care.

1) Fill a clean jar ¾ full with freshly dried or dry rose petals and buds. You can break up and bruise the petals gently.

2) Fill the jar to the top with carrier oil of choice. I use extra virgin olive oil most commonly, though sweet almond or coconut (melted) would work well.

3) Cap and shake to distribute the herb.

4) Label with the herb used, where it is from, the oil used, quantities of each, the date and the method of preparation.

5) Allow the jar to sit in a cool, dark place, shaking daily.

6) At 4 weeks/28 days/1 moon cycle, strain the oil into a clean bowl, squeezing the herb to get every drop. I find it helpful to use an old t-shirt or cheesecloth to catch the herb. Then lift the t-shirt with herb in it and squeeze that.

7) The strained liquid is your finished oil. Essential oil can be added or it can be left as is. It will have the sweet scent of roses, though it may be light. You could always make a double or triple infusion, where you would use the filtered herbal oil as the carrier oil for a fresh batch of rose petals.

Rose Oil can be used as any other herbal oil, for cosmetic, massage and medicinal purposes.

Therapeutic Benefits of Roses 

     Aside from providing an aesthetic appeal, which contributes to the overall pleasure and feeling of well being, roses have a genuine practical use in our regimens of good health. Rose oil and rose water are derived from the flowers and rose hips have many valuable properties.

     It is suspected that the rose was probably the very first flower from which rose oil and rose water were distilled; possibly in the 10th Century Persia. Today, most of the rose oils are still produced in that region of the world. A very large quantity of rose petals is needed to produce a very small quantity of oil. Thus, it is very costly. Thankfully only a small amount of rose oil is needed in therapeutic preparations. It is not used in its concentrated state, but rather in a carrier oil such as almond, jojoba, and grapeseed.

     Generally rose oil and rose water (a by-product of distillation) are used topically rather than internally; with the exception of aromatherapy.In this case the rose essence may be inhaled, via steam or diffusion. Three varieties of rose are used in commercial production of rose oil and rose water: Rosa Centifolia, Rosa Damascena and Rosa Gallica. The product will vary slightly in colour between these species but the therapeutic benefits are the same.

     The use of the rose is far and varied. It has a long history in its use in folk remedies, especially in the area of skincare. It is suitable for all skin types, but it is especially valuable for dry, sensitive or aging skins. It has a tonic and astringent effect on the capillaries just below the skin surface, which makes it useful in diminishing the redness caused by enlarged capillaries. It is important to ensure that the product contains the genuine natural rose oil. Many manufacturers label their products containing rose essence but it could be synthetic. Synthetic rose ingredients have no therapeutic value at all! Remember, with authentic rose oil, a little goes a long way.Certainly rosewater is a less expensive way to provide skincare. It is very soothing to irritated skin.It is also a tonic and antiseptic. Rosewater has been shown to be very valuable as an antiseptic in eye infections.

     The rose also offers a soothing property to the nerves and emotional /psychological state of mind. It is regarded as a mild sedative and anti-depressant. It is increasingly used in treatments for conditions of stress: nervous tension, peptic ulcers, heart disease, among others. There is indication that rose essence may also positively influence digestion, bile secretion, womb disorders and circulation. In addition, a tea made with rose petals (pour 150 ml of boiling water over 1 /2 grams of rose petals) often soothes a mild sore throat.

     Rose hips (the flowers which have swollen to seed) are an excellent source of vitamins A, B3, C, D and E. They also contain bioflavonoids, citric acid, flavonoids, fructose, malic acid, tannins and zinc. Taken in the form of tea they are good for infections, particularly bladder infections. Rose hip tea is also used in the treatment of diarrhea. It is an especially good source of vitamin C.

     To best use rose oil for topical purposes (i.e. skin care), use approximately 8 drops of essential rose oil for every 10 ml of carrier oil. Apply directly onto skin. Rosewater may be used with abandon. There is no such thing as too much of it. For emotional wholeness and wellness, rose oil may also be used in a room diffuser, aromatherapy ring (a brass ring placed atop a hot light bulb will work to evaporate the essential essence throughout the room) or in steaming hot water on the stove. Whatever works!

     To brew rose hip tea, which by the way is truly delicious, roughly chop up entire rose hips. Cover with distilled or purified water and boil for 30 minutes (longer if desired). Strain through a fine strainer or cheesecloth and add a bit of honey if desired. One can also find Rose Hip Tea in the local health food stores.  The essence of rose need not only be used to treat ailments. Whether inhaled and enjoyed from a freshly cut bouquet of sumptuous blooms or splashed on as rosewater after a shower or bath, it is simply a pleasure to be enjoyed by all!

Sweet Lavender Tisane.

Queen Elizabeth I reputedly consumed countless cups of this tisane.
3 tablespoons fresh English lavender flowers
2 cups boiling water
Honey
Allow the flowers to steep for 3 to 4 minutes, strain and serve with a slice of lemon and honey if liked.
If using dried flowers, halve the quantity used. A little mint or rosemary can be added for an interesting flavor variation.
The English long served their equivalent of the modern fruit salad with lavender flowers and on a bed of lettuce and lavender leaves. This is a delicious modern adaptation of that old idea.