|Image by Jill Wellington|
Article: Debs Cook
Making a pot of herb tea is easy; add 1 tablespoon of dried herb or 1 teaspoon of ground spice such as cinnamon to every 600ml (1 pint) of water. Simply put the herb into a teapot or cafetière and pure over the boiling, stir, then leave to brew for 3-10 minutes depending on the herbs used and the strength of tea required. Strain, sweeten with honey or your preferred sweetener and serve.
Chamomile: A useful tea for young and old alike; it’s soothing and sedative and is great for helping to ease stomach ache, indigestion, nausea and helping insomnia. Chamomile also has anti-inflammatory properties; it is a bitter herb which can help to promote digestion. On its own its best to sweeten with honey as it can be too bitter for some, especially children. Cold leftover chamomile tea placed on cotton wool pads can be used to relieve tired eyes or used as a final rinse for light hair.
Cinnamon: This warming spice makes an excellent addition to a tea blend or used on its own; it helps to warm the body and boost circulation making it a great tea to take when suffering from colds and chills. Cinnamon has antiseptic, astringent and sedative properties and can be used to soothe stomach ache and diarrhoea. Use 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon in 600ml of water. Leftover cinnamon tea can be used as an antiseptic wash for minor cuts and abrasions or dabbed on to insect bites.
Fennel: Another tea that is great to drink when you have indigestion, it’s also a useful tea to drink when you have a windy stomach. Dieters have been known to drink fennel tea to help stave off hunger pangs. With its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties it’s been used to ease tooth and gum discomfort and to ease sore throats. For best results lightly crush your fennel seeds in a pestle & mortar before placing in to your teapot. Leftover fennel tea can be used as an aromatic rinse for the hair.
Caution: Fennel seed has diuretic properties and should not be taken by people with kidney problems.
Ginger: Another warming spice, it makes a good addition to teas to sip when you have a chesty cough with its warming and expectorant properties. Ginger is also antiseptic, detoxifying and digestive. It can help to bring down a fever and break down catarrh and phlegm, soothe indigestion and warm the body when suffering from chills. Ginger tea is also a pleasant means of reducing the nausea which is experienced by some people when travelling; take a flask of ginger tea with you to sip during the journey. Leftover ginger tea can be used as a wash for minor cuts and grazes, it can also be added to foot baths to help boost circulation.
Caution: Some people are allergic to ginger, avoid this herbs included if you are allergic to it.
Hibiscus: Also known in some countries as ‘Sorrel’ is a great herb to drink as a tea when a fever needs reducing, with its febrifuge (cooling) properties hibiscus can help to bring down a fever; it’s also contains vitamin C, a useful vitamin to include in your diet when suffering from colds and flu. It’s great for helping digestion and for improving the appetite, combine it with rosehip to boost the vitamin C value.
Lemon Balm: This delicious citrusy tea is useful to have in the cupboard not just in the winter but all the year round, it has antiviral, digestive and antibacterial properties and is terrific for helping to soothe stressed nerves, tension headaches and for helping to combat insomnia. Its analgesic properties make it useful for easing tooth and gum pain, try swilling a warm infusion of lemon balm tea around the mouth to ease aching gums. Lemon balm tea can also bring relief to mild cases of ingestion and may calm stomach cramps most often associated with period pain. Leftover lemon balm tea can be added to lotions for treating cold sores.
Liquorice Root: This aromatic anise scented and flavoured root makes a tasty way of adding natural sweetness to tea blends, on its own it’s useful as a tea to sip when suffering from chesty coughs. It’s antispasmodic, expectorant and emollient properties make it soothing to the lungs and bronchia and can help relieve congestion. Liquorice root is also useful for soothing heartburn; combine with peppermint for maximum effect.
Caution: Pregnant women should not consume liquorice, neither should people with heart, liver or kidney problems, those people suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure or problems with fluid retention should also avoid liquorice. It should also be noted that liquorice can interact with certain medications, including diuretics, ACE inhibitors, corticosteroids, laxatives, diabetes medications, oral contraceptives, MAO inhibitors, steroids, blood pressure medications, hormone therapy and digoxin. If you take any of these types of medicines consult your GP before you include liquorice in your daily diet.
Peppermint: This is the tea most commonly associated with the ability to ease an upset stomach and aid digestion, but did you know that peppermint tea also has analgesic, antiviral, antiseptic, refrigerant (cooling when used externally) and tonic properties? Peppermint can also be a warming and stimulating herb when taken as a tea and has been used for centuries for its soothing properties and its ability to ease stomach aches, indigestion, nausea, hiccough and heartburn. Leftover peppermint tea can be added to mouthwashes and used as an antiseptic wash for minor cuts and abrasions.
Rosehip: A tea made from rosehips can help boost your vitamin C levels, which is beneficial when suffering from winter colds and flu. They have astringent, refrigerant and anti-inflammatory properties and are rich in antioxidants and bio-flavonoids. Rosehips can also have a mild laxative effect and are mildly diuretic; they have been used for centuries to help de-stress the body and have been used as a general tonic for the blood. Use leftover cold rosehip tea to cleanse and nourish the skin.
Rosemary: As a tea or infusion, rosemary is drunk when suffering from migraine and minor headaches, with its antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal and astringent properties it’s another beneficial winter tea, its warming and stimulating and can help ease congestion, soothe coughs, clear phlegm and soothe a sore throat. Rosemary tea has a wonderful tonic action that is beneficial to the nervous system and the mind. It can also act as a digestive and can soothe colicky cramps and spasms. Leftover rosemary tea can be added to lotions and creams for the skin, it can also be used as a mouthwash and an antiseptic skin wash.
Sage: At the first sign of a sore throat, sip a cup of sage tea with honey, sage is highly antiseptic and is great for soothing sore throats, and easing chest complaints such as bronchitis, and also for reducing congestion due to catarrh and phlegm. Sage is also astringent, antioxidant and digestive, it’s been used to ease period pain and to lessen the effects of hot flushes in menopausal women. Sage tea can also be drunk to ease nausea, settle the stomach and to relieve indigestion. Leftover cold sage tea can be used as a wash for minor cuts and sores or added to homemade mouthwashes to soothe mouth ulcers and sore gums.
Thyme: Another highly antiseptic herb that is antibacterial, antiseptic and astringent. Thyme is also a warming and stimulating herb that can help ease chesty coughs and bronchial problems with its expectorant properties. It makes a useful addition to teas to soothe the body in cases of exhaustion and anxiety, lemon thyme shares the same properties and also makes a tasty tea for sore throats and coughs. Thyme tea can also be used in steam inhalers to help open the nasal passages when blocked due to congestion. Leftover thyme tea can be added to gargles for sore throats and used as an antiseptic in creams and lotions; it can also be used to wash minor cuts and grazes.
Lemon Thyme Soother
1 Teaspoon Dried Lemon Thyme
1 Litre Organic Lemonade.
Honey to serve.
Method: This wonderfully soothing lemon drink is ideal for helping to ease a sore throat and it is simplicity in itself to make. Bring 1 litre of organic lemonade to the boil in a pan, to which you’ve added some dried lemon thyme leaves, turn off the heat and leave to steep for 10-15 minutes, add a teaspoon of honey and warm the drink through again if needed. Sip it slowly to soothe a sore throat and ease nasal congestion.
Good Winter Herbal Tea Combinations To Try:-
Chamomile & Lemon Balm, for sleeplessness.
Liquorice & Peppermint, for heartburn.
Hibiscus & Rosehip, for immune boosting.
Sage & Thyme, for sore throat and congestion.
Cinnamon & Peppermint, for digestion.
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to source the most up to date and accurate information, we cannot guarantee that the remedies in our articles are effective, when in doubt, consult your GP or a qualified Medicinal Herbalist. Remember also that herbal remedies can be dangerous under certain circumstances therefore you should always seek medical advice before self-treating with a homemade remedy, especially if you are pregnant, breast feeding or suffer from any known illness which could be adversely affected by self-treatment.