You do know the tea you’re drinking is toxic, right?! That was the statement that got me down a rabbit hole of herbal tea a couple of years ago and I’m just now resurfacing with a lot more knowledge. I’ve boiled it all down for you in this post and podcast (pun intended).
Herbal Tea for Pleasure and Wellness Podcast
What is Tea?
Today, a lot of things are called tea but are they true teas? In Denmark, we tend to differentiate between tea and herbal tea (the latter often said with a scoff).
Tea, as in real tea, is made from the tea plant, Camellia Sinensis. That includes black tea, oolong tea, green tea and white tea. Everything else is not strictly speaking tea.
Herbal teas are not proper teas and are called tisanes sometimes to better differentiate them form tea. I, however, think it’s easier to call them herbal teas since we all tend to know what that is.
Is Your Tea Toxic?
My journey away from commercial tea began the day I learned how many chemicals and pesticides are sprayed on commercial tea. There I was, all proud of not having a major coffee habit but instead drinking a good deal of Good-For-You tea. And then my bubble bursts. That day had a lot in common with the day I learned that margarine was not good for me and I really should eat the much tastier real butter.
Is the tea you’re drinking toxic? No, probably not, if your tea is organic. You get bonus points if it’s fair trade as well.
But if it comes in tea bags, even pyramid bags for better diffusion, then it could still be toxic. There are good bags out there, made from cloth and sewn together. Most tea bags, however, are glued and it’s the glue that’s the culprit here.
I wasn’t even aware of this until I took Heidi’s course, The Confident Herbalist (affiliate link). Apparently, a lot of the bags contain toxic glue. I primarily use loose leave tea, so it’s never been on my mind but now that I’m aware of it, I’ve noticed just how many glued tea bags I come across. And I want to make this perfectly clear, I still have a bag of tea that’s glued when offered and you can too.
We don’t have to go to extremes but it’s reasonable for us to figure out how much tea we consume and if we can do it, in a way that’s not only better for us and the environment but for our wallets as well.
My Journey with Herbal Teas
If this has made you think twice about your daily cup of tea (or ten, you don’t have to lie, I get that, heck I drink that at times), then I hope you’ll keep reading and if you want to learn even more, I cannot recommend joining Heidi Villegas’ course The Confident Herbalist (affiliate link) enough! This course will make you confident in your use of herbs.
I didn’t have the option of joining such a course back when I learned how toxic my tea was. So I kept drinking it and thinking about what else I could do. By then I was already drinking chamomile tea regularly for enjoyment. Yes, I’m odd like that, I really enjoy the flavour and it relaxes me in a pleasant way without putting me to sleep.
Towards the end of my pregnancy with my son, my midwife suggested I began to drink strong infusions of red raspberry leaf tea to induce and support labour. You know when the educated medical people tell you to use a herb that it’s good stuff right?! Well, it didn’t taste that well and I have no idea what labour would have been like without it. However, I’d drink it again any day to help with labour.
Then, in the last year or two, I’ve really gotten into drinking elderflowers as a calming tea. I only do a light infusion and it’s much more for taste than anything else.
That brings me to the day I entered Heidi’s course (affiliate link). Most of what I’ll be sharing below are things I’ve learned from her course. She’s got an entire module dedicated to ‘teas’ as well as an e-book included in the course.
Fresh versus dried herbs
Using Fresh Herbs:
If you have a pot of herbs in your windowsill or in your garden, you have all you need to get started. Grab a handful of leaves, chop them up and add two cups of hot water to them. Let it steep for 10-15 min.
You can also let them infuse throughout the day. Having some crushed mint in your water bottle is very tasty.
If you don’t chop, crush or tear the leaves, they won’t be able to release their juices as well. The health benefits and delicious taste both come from the juice of the fresh herbs.
Using Dried Herbs:
You may want to dry some herbs to keep them at hand all year long. Or, like me, you can buy dried herbs that you don’t have room on your windowsill to grow. It’s also a lot easier to work with dry herbs in my opinion, especially if you are getting into doing mixes. I dehydrate what I can grow and forage and buy the rest from a reputable source.
Herbal Tea for Pleasure
If you are using herbal teas for pleasure then you don’t have to be very specific about the amounts you use and the time you let it infuse. Simply go by the taste. You’ll soon figure out how much of something you like and how long it needs to steep or simmer.
Good teas to experiment with are:
- Ginger tea
- Rosehip tea
- Hibiscus tea
- Peppermint tea
- Lemon balm tea
You might find it helpful to write down general guidelines. If you fall ill and want someone else to make you a cup or pot of herbal tea for your pleasure, they will need to know how to do it. But if you really are ill, you might want to opt for a different preparation of your tea altogether and make herbal tea for wellness instead.
Herbal Tea for Wellness
Herbal teas can be used to balance out a number of imbalances, such as reducing inflammation and have been used in this way for hundreds of years in traditional medicine.
I’d advise you to always seek three sources for a herb before using it and talk to a medical professional if you are on any drugs that the herbs could interfere with. That said, most herbs are perfectly fine to use in moderation.
There’s a reason I’ve titled this herbal tea for wellness and the other kind as herbal tea for pleasure. Truth be told if you want to make a strong tea to promote wellness it’s most likely not going to be all that pleasurable to drink.
To make a herbal tea for wellness you will need 1 ounce by weight of herbs to 32 ounces (1 quart) of water. Flowers and leaves should be steeped, while roots, berries, bark and seeds should be simmered. The minimum time requirement is 30 minutes but to get the desired effects many things will need to be steeped for hours or even overnight. With things that should be simmered, you can simmer them for 20-30 min and then let them steep for hours.
As always, please use your common sense. If an infusion smells like it has turned, don’t use it, always toss it. Better safe than sorry.
Become a Confident Herbalist
This post is only covering the basics, if you become a Confident Herbalist Student (affiliate link), you’ll get access to additional info on:
– The perfect tools for making tea
– A really good explanation of the parts system
– How and why to make a decoction
– Info on making solar and iced teas
– How to make a ‘multivitamin’ tea and a list of nutritional herbs
– How and when to make a cold infusion
– An e-book full of tea recipes
Sign up below to get access to the Herbal Tea for Pleasure and Wellness cheatsheet. Print it out and keep it where you store your herbs.
You also get access to the entire resource library which is growing rapidly.