One Steep at a Time

For thousands of years, tea has been a major part of Asian culture due to its soothing, restorative, and refreshing nature. However, there are many reasons tea should be a part of your everyday diet. At the very least, it’s a flavorful way of getting enough fluid into your body each day. On top of that, studies have shown teas can help protect your teeth, are good for your heart, help with diabetes, encourage weight loss, lower cholesterol, and bring about mental alertness

Which type of tea you drink can make a difference. All non-herbal teas are made from the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant. However, herbal teas are on the rise because they have many of the same benefits as non-herbal tea without containing caffeine. All herbs have their own properties and health benefits.

How to brew your own herbal tea:

Growing Herbs:
Most herbs can be grown in full or part sun and will need moderately moist soil. The more direct sun they receive, the higher yield of foliage they produce. Herbs can be planted together with the exception of mint, which will take over a container and should be planted alone.

Drying Herbs:
Herbs can be used fresh or dried to make tea. Fresh herbs generally have a stronger scent, but the taste is not as potent as dried.
Herbs with thicker, waxier leaves can be dried using simple air-drying method of hanging upside down in a cool, dry room. This usually takes anywhere from one to three weeks.
Herbs with valuable seeds (fennel, coriander, etc.) can be placed in a brown paper bag. As they dry, the seeds fall and collect at the bottom of the bag.
Larger but softer-leafed varieties — like parsley, basil, and mint — need to be dried quickly to prevent mold from forming on the leaves. To perform a quick-dry, choose a warm, dry room and place the herbs on a towel on top of a drying rack. Place them in bright light, but avoid direct sun as this will bleach the herbs and cause them to lose flavor. When the herbs are completely dry and crispy, they are ready to use.
Alternatively, herbs can be dried quickly in the oven. Set the oven to the lowest temperature and leave the door open. Place the herbs on a baking sheet and turn them frequently. When the herbs start to turn crispy, remove them from the oven.

Steeping:
Steeping herbs in boiling water (also known as infusing) will produce the strongest tea. Herbs should be steeped for at least 15 minutes and then strained out. The tea can be refrigerated for up to two days without losing its medicinal properties. Fresh herbs require more quantity to bring out the flavor. In general, making tea with fresh herbs requires three times as much as with dried herbs. Most teas are made using 1 teaspoon dried primary herb and ½ teaspoon dried secondary herb per cup.


Peppermint Herbal Tea

Herbs:
Peppermint
Fennel
Coriander

Steeping Instructions:
For dried herbs, use 1 teaspoon peppermint, ½ teaspoon fennel seeds, and ½ teaspoon coriander seeds per cup of tea. If using fresh herbs, triple the quantities. Steep for 15 minutes. Strain as needed.

Health Benefits:
A perfect blend to sip on after meals, this healthy digestion tea can help soothe your stomach and may reduce irritable bowel syndrome symptoms. Peppermint tea can also help boost your memory.


Lavender-Chamomile Herbal Tea

Herbs:
Chamomile
Lavender
Mint

Steeping Instructions:
For dried herbs, use 1 teaspoon chamomile, ½ teaspoon lavender, and ½ teaspoon mint per cup of tea. If using fresh herbs, triple the quantities. Steep for 15 minutes. Strain as needed.

Health Benefits:
Sip this soothing tea before bed. The lavender scent alone may lower stress levels and aid in relaxation. Mint is a wonderful stomach soother that can help digestion. Chamomile is good for soothing your stomach, reducing anxiety, and improving your sleep.


Written by: Mandy Douthit

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