Tea used to be something I could take or leave but has now become a significant part of my routine.
The word tea has an interesting history.
When it was first introduced in England it was pronounced cha or tcha from the Mandarin and Cantonese dialects spoken in Macao, the port from which the tea was shipped.
Tea was later imported from the Chinese port of Amoy where it was called t’e, and it is from that word that our familiar “tea” was derived.
Earliest records of using herbs indicate that they were used for healing rather than refreshment.
In 410 B. C., Plato mentioned herbal teas in his writings.
Seventy years later, Aristotle discussed herbal teas. His prized student wrote a work called “On the history of Plants”, which describes the uses of herbs.
The natural foods movement has contributed greatly to a growing appreciation of the health sustaining qualities of herbs.
The tea producing giants include Celestial Seasonings, Lipton, and Bigelow. I prefer small, lesser known organic producers of fine herbal teas.
Gross revenue for Celestial Seasoning alone, topped the $23 million mark in 1981.
There are two main types of tea brewing: Brewing by infusion and brewing by decoction.
The first uses leaves, petals, and flowers and gently allows oils from these parts to be released. This involves seeping for 5-30 minutes in water that has been boiled already and later added while still near the boiling point.
The second method “decoction” is used mainly for teas made from seed, roots, and bark. It involves crushing and mashing and adding it to boiling water to continue to boil for 5-10 minutes.
The most popular herbs used for flavor infusions and decoctions include: mint, hibiscus, lemon grass, lemon balm, lemon verbena, cinnamon, ginger, stevia, fennel, clove, cardamom, and coriander.
When brewing tea follow these guidelines:
1 part dried equals 3 parts fresh.
1 teaspoon plant material is used for 1 cup of water.
If certain herbs are allowed to stand more than a day or two, they release tannic acid into the tea. That’s the same stuff used to cure leather!
Tea is special…
Here are some garden suggestions for tea:
Relaxation garden– Borage, Catnip, Chamomile, Hibiscus, Lemon verbena, Lavender, Mullein, Oregano, and Sage.
Cough, cold and flu care garden- Angelica, Chamomile, Echinacea, Elder, Hibiscus, Hyssop, Lemon Balm, Linden, marsh mallow, Meadow sweet, Violet, and Yarrow
First aid garden– Bay, Bee balm, Betony, Burnet, Comfrey, Goldenrod, Thyme, and Yarrow.
Tummy care garden–
Cramps- Calendula, chamomile, comfrey, ginger, hops, mint, parsley, and valerian
Good digestion- Bay, catnip, cayenne, chamomile, comfrey, coriander, dill, ginger, licorice, marsh mallow, mugwort, and oregano.
Constipation- dandelion, marsh mallow.
Nausea– bee balm, ginger, lemon balm.
Headache: lemon balm, basil, cayenne, skull cap, rosemary, sage, mint, feverfew, and betony.
Enjoy your special tea!