There’s nothing better than a soothing cup of herbal tea on a cold winter’s day, but besides being a tasty, warm, caffeine-free pick-me-up, herbal teas provide many health benefits. These herbal infusions are packed with powerful curative properties, aiding indigestion and relaxation. – BY SALOME SCHOLTZ, REGISTERED DIETICIAN
There are so many wonderful herbal teas on the market, so when it comes to choosing one, it’s important to look for a well-sourced product made from high-quality natural ingredients and which does not contain any added essential oils or flavours! Here are a few of the most common herbal teas which can all be found in your local supermarket, and their benefits.
Rooibos: Probably the most famous herbal tea in South Africa, it is high in vitamin C as well as other minerals. An easy drinking tea, it’s largely grown locally and has been touted for its antioxidant properties, which help ward off disease and signs of ageing. It has also been shown to help with common skin concerns, such as eczema.
Peppermint: This tea is recommended to relieve the symptoms of abdominal gas and bloating, and to relieve muscle spasms. It’s also good for nausea. However, if indigestion or heartburn are problems, it is recommended to avoid peppermint altogether. It can be made using fresh herbs from the garden, and it is one of the easiest herbs to grow. Peppermint is also said to cure bad breath!
Ginger: Another great digestive aid, ginger can be used to curb nausea, vomiting or motion sickness. Make fresh ginger tea by simmering a piece of ginger root on the stove for 10 to 15 minutes. Add fresh lemon juice and honey when you have a cold for a powerful germ-fighting combination. Ginger tea is also excellent for improving circulation, and is one of the best herbs for improving digestion, lung congestion and arthritis.
Chamomile: Used widely for stomach ailments and as a mild sedative, chamomile tea has also been shown to ease heartburn, nausea, and vomiting. A mouth rinse with chamomile may relieve mouth sores caused by cancer treatments, and some research suggests that chamomile could help with other conditions such as diarrhoea in children, haemorrhoids, anxiety and insomnia. When used on the skin, chamomile helps with skin irritation and wound healing.
BREW THE PERFECT CUP
When you are making your herbal tea, use fresh, cold water. Do not use aluminium cookware, as it can affect the taste – rather use glass, cast iron or stainless steel. A tea strainer is very helpful, as it lets you create your own blends of teas or herbs, and stops the leaves and flowers from escaping into the drink. Once the water has boiled, add one heaped teaspoon of herbs for every cup of water. Cover and let the herbs steep for ten minutes. Do not over-steep the herbs, as the flavour may become too strong and taste more medicinal than pleasant. If you want to enhance or sweeten the flavour of your tea, add honey or lemon.
About the Author
Salome is a registered dietician based in the Johannesburg area.