Byline: Dr. Tonia Winchester
I love tea. As a naturopathic doctor I often recommend my patients include certain herbal teas as part of their treatment plan. Teas contain amazing plant molecules (geek alert: called phytochemicals) that can support the body’s immune function, hormone balancing, and digestive processes. Also, non caffeinated teas can be included as part of your water intake for the day.
I think there is something really special about preparing a cup of tea for yourself. It’s nourishing to the soul, and nutritive to the body. That’s a double whammy of goodness.
Sometimes people can get bored of just drinking tea. Especially the same tea over and over again.
I’ve come up with inventive ways to get the nutrients of the tea, without having to “drink” the tea in the typical way. It’s like tea accessorizing. Fun eh?
5 Ways To Enjoy Herbal Teas
1. Instead of drinking it hot, drink it cold
This is especially great on hotter days. Often I’ll add lemon to my leftover tea from the night before and drink it first thing in the morning.
2. Freeze it as ice cubes (or popsicles)
This is another good one for the summer, but can be done at any time of year. Where do we typically put ice cubes? Well, in beverages of course. But also smoothies. Toss the tea cubes in there, and blend. Mint and ginger teas are great for this. Add them to stevia sweetened lemonade.
3. Add tea to your smoothies as the liquid base
This is another great use of last night’s left over tea. Instead of nut milks or juice, use tea for your smoothies. Fruity teas work well here, but you can also use green tea, and rooibos. Here’s a trick of the trade. If you want the antioxidant benefits of the green tea without the caffeine, steep it below 85 degrees Celsius (185 degrees Farenheit).
4. Include tea when you’re cooking grains
Combine it with water to make, rice, or quinoa, as examples. Savory teas are great options here. Make a tea out of your favorite culinary herb. Try parsley, sage, or oregano. Actually anything in your cupboard will have medicinal properties. Most are antimicrobial (they kill bugs). Rosemary is particularly good for the brain and liver. I call it the herb of remembrance. My husband calls it the herb of chicken. Lemon balm (a member of the mint family) tea is a great way to cook your morning oatmeal. Both plants are very soothing to upset digestive systems especially when the symptoms (pain, discomfort, gas, bloating, diarrhea, IBS,) are related to stress and nervous tension. Soothing to the body and mind.
5. Combine with water or stock to use as the base for soups or stews
Culinary herbal teas are a great fit here too. Chop up garlic finely and boil in a covered pot for 20 minutes. You’ve just made a decoction – a tea made from harder parts of plants such as roots and bark. Include your garlic tea in the soup pot instead of sauteing the garlic (you can also use an onion). If we’re being technical, all stocks are really just decoctions, so you can get creative here.
I promised you 5, but I’m giving you a bonus. All the above options were for consuming tea. But there is another great way to use tea – as a compress. It’s a way to get the medicinal benefits of the herbs into the body through the skin.
How to make your tea compress
- Make tea
- Dip clean face cloth (or fabric) in tea
- Wring out cloth
- Apply to area of concern
Compresses can be done hot or cold. Just make sure you don’t burn yourself!
4 examples of tea compresses:
- Use a lavender tea compress at the shoulders and neck to reduce tension, induce calm and relieve headaches
- Apply comfrey tea compress to wounds, sores, injuries
- Place a chamomile tea compress over abdomen to calm down an irritated belly (great in combination with your lemon balm oatmeal
- Drape a thyme tea compress over the chest for coughs, colds, and built-up phlegm
Dr. Tonia Winchester believes that healthy, happy people doing what they love, contributes to a more peaceful world. As a Naturopathic physician, mind-body healer, and self-care revolutionary she teaches busy, super-women how to make time for what is important by teaching them how to look after themselves. She’s been featured on local news and radio programs, and joyfully edutains her audience about healthy and purposeful living at drtoniawinchester.com