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Before there were over the counter medications or prescription drugs, there were illnesses that had to be treated. While people knew of herbs that could soothe an ache or cure an illness, they had very limited means of ingestion. They might have been able to eat the plant raw or put it in food, but if the plant could be dried and saved, it could be used during times when the live plant as unavailable and when there wasn’t a meal to eat it with. The concept of making a tea from a herb was most likely developed as a means of medicinal convenience that later became a social ritual. Let us explore the benefits of tea.
Infusion is the process by which the properties of a herb are transferred to the water by means of heat. The heat of the water releases the properties that are being sought out. This process is sometimes the only way to extract the desired properties from a plant. It’s also a convenient means to make the plant easy to ingest.
Ease of Ingestion
When you think of tea, you probably picture and old lady sitting around sipping hot tea with her friends. You might be right, but times of social interaction aren’t the only time tea is convenient or useful. Imagine that you’re traveling along looking for a place to make camp. You wouldn’t want to pack around every piece of food you needed to meet your nutritional requirements or to combat any ailment.
Instead, you would likely have some dried herbs that you can easily place in heated water to give you the nutrients or medicinal values that you needed. This is just one scenario of how the tradition of drinking tea came about, but the principle still works today.
No matter how sick you are, your body needs nutrients. It may also require something to ease the symptoms of the illness so that you are better able to function. Rather than trying to absorb these nutrients through whole foods that you may be too ill to digest, you can brew a tea and get the same nutrients in a form that is easy for your ill body to handle.
You’ve probably taken a dose of medicine that was hard for you to consume. The taste may prevent you from ingesting as much as you should. Tea makes this whole process easier because you can combine different herbs to change the flavor of the tea. You can even add honey to sweeten it.
When it comes to absorbing nutrients, your body does more work than you might imagine. Your digestive system has to sort through whatever you have ingested and separate the good from the bad. It has to filter out everything that is dangerous or unhealthy and keep what is healthy. In the meantime, it has to work to break down the solids so that it can determine the good from the bad. Because of the way parts of our food bind to each other, the body may not even be able to get all of the nutrients that are available in the food you eat.
When you use the method of infusion, you’re extracting only what you need from the herb. Your body doesn’t have to break down the solid foods to get to the nutrients because the infusion method already has. When you ingest the tea, the hard work is already done. Your body has to work less than half as hard to obtain the nutrients it needs. That means it can focus its energy on other areas.
You’ve already seen the benefits of tea as it applies to being easy to ingest, digest, and transfer. Tea is also versatile in other areas. You can make it as strong as you want or need by adjusting the temperature or steeping time without even having to adjust the amount of herbs you use. Tea can be used in hot or cold form, which means it can be made and stored for later use. The benefit of this is that you have it on hand when you need it the most.
Though most people don’t think of it, tea can also be used externally. Many teas are as beneficial as external healers as they are internal healers. You simply brew the tea as you normally would, then use it to dampen a cloth and apply it as a wash. You can also use steeped tea bags as compresses or combine your tea with beeswax to use as a salve.
You are in Charge
Have you ever looked at the ingredients in an over the counter or prescription drug? Even if you can pronounce the ingredients, the side effects are enough to make you want to stick with whatever ails you. Even a simple cough syrup can cause aneurysms and other serious side effects.
When you make your own tea, you’re only using the ingredients that you want to use. You don’t even have to use anything to process it. The herb is dried or kept until it is no longer useful, then thrown away. You can even hold onto a herb until it gets close to losing its usefulness, then make a tea that can be saved for later. You add the flavor you want and you make it to the strength you desire. In fact, every single part of the tea you make is put in their by your own choice. You can’t be any more in control of your health than that.
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The Top Ten Teas for Overall Body Health
You may have noticed the shelves of your local supermarket’s tea aisle are filling up with all sorts of different types of tea these days, and navigating through it can prove itself to be a real challenge. This is partly because of tea’s much-touted health benefits as a superfood; giving major health benefits in many different parts of the body and containing many important nutrients that have been shown to optimize health and vitality. If you are looking to find teas that will improve your overall health and enhance your day, this short guide will help with making the tea aisle selection process easier.
Green Tea: overall energizing, refreshing, and revitalizing
Green tea is one of the few ‘true teas’ because it is made by steaming the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, which grows natively in India and China. It is highly concentrated with flavonoids such as ECGC, which have antioxidant properties that aid in preventing cancers of all types. Flavonoids are also linked to lower blood pressure and arterial clogging, and therefore may help prevent heart disease. Green tea is also a metabolic inducer, helping keep you awake and alert, and also reduces oxidative stress on the brain so you can think clearly. This tea is generally high in caffeine, although decaffeinated versions are now becoming more widely available.
Peppermint Tea: A soothing after dinner tea that helps digestion and mental clarity
Peppermint has long been prescribed in capsule form for people suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) because it helps with digestion and reduces flatulence. An after dinner cup of this herbal tea will also help sweeten your breath and soothe your muscle aches from the day, and the strong odor will clear your sinuses and help you think more clearly. Peppermint tea is herbal, meaning there is no caffeine to keep you awake at night, but is not recommended if you suffer from heartburn.
Rose Hip Tea: A health booster tea for winter months, plane trips, studying for finals, or whenever your immune system Is under extra stress
The fruit of the common rose-bush (where those lovely flowers come from), rose hips are highly concentrated with Vitamin C, which is well-known for boosting the immune system.
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Pu-Erh Tea: to help jump-start your new health and fitness routine
Like Green tea, Pu-erh tea is a true tea, made by aging and fermenting the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant instead of boiling them as with Green tea. Thus, the tea is caffeinated for an energy boost and contains flavonoids in high concentrations, as well. It has been shown that the fermentation process used in creating Pu-erh tea produces probiotics, which aid in digestion and reduce weight gain while lowering levels of bad LDL cholesterol in your bloodstream.
Red Rooibos Tea: a daily dietary supplement, so you can drink your vitamins
This South African plant contains iron, magnesium, Vitamin C, calcium, zinc, manganese, potassium, and a host of other nutrients. The tea is fermented and does not contain the bitter tannins that characterize the taste of true teas, making it quite refreshing and more palatable for many. Red rooibos is caffeine-free, as well, making it appropriate to sip your supplement tea at any time of day.
Chamomile Tea: to help you sleep
Chamomile tea calms your anxiety and relaxes the mind and muscles, so you can fall asleep naturally. A caffeine-free herbal tea, Chamomile also aids in digestion and can relieve the uncomfortable bloating that could prevent you from getting the rest you need, and helps with muscle cramps, too.
Black Tea: helps you get up and GO!
Another true tea, Black tea is made by the fermenting of the plant leaves. The tea has a powerful flavor that will excite taste buds, and the highest caffeine content of all teas, in addition to the antioxidants and other protective benefits. Black tea varieties are also the main ingredients in the popular Chai tea drinks. The caffeine acts over an extended period of time, as well, making Black tea the perfect option for a light boost over the course of several hours.
Kombucha: A quick pick-me-up that’s better for you than soda.
The fermentation process used in making Kombucha not only makes it a probiotic, but also gives it ultra-refreshing natural carbonation. Flavorful and antioxidant, Kombucha has no caffeine, and helps regulate appetite. It also provides many other rare plant compounds and rare essential B-Vitamins such as Vitamin B12, making it an amazing supplement and a potent liver detoxifier. Learn how to make your own Kombucha Tea.
White Tea: To detoxify your system for the long haul
This is yet another true tea from the Camellia sinensis plant, made without any curing or fermenting of the leaves. Being the least processed, it has the most anticancer properties of all the teas, retaining more antioxidants and vitamins. It is best known for being served at Chinese food restaurants. In addition to being a great detoxifier, White tea does not undergo the level of processing that other true teas do, thus also retaining the rich levels of fluoride that strengthen teeth and bones.
Yerba Mate Tea: Enhances Alertness and mental focus
Yerba Mate is considered a superfood in its own right. It comes from a native plant of South America and is incredibly rich in antioxidants, and although it contains high levels of caffeine, the caffeine is said to be balanced out by the high levels of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. The result is a strongly flavored drink that revs up metabolism and mental clarity without the jittery, anxious side effects you might experience when drinking other caffeinated beverages.
What is your favorite tea and why?