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Through my many years of experimenting, I have come to a number of comforting conclusions about herbal teas, some of which I share here.
The earliest recorded tea usage was in 350 AD, when a Chinese dictionary, Erh Ya, cited tea for the first time.
I have found certain herbs to be remarkable in their ability to give effective, quick, and often astonishing, relief of many a common ailment. Making an infusion of the fresh, organically grown plant, and sipping it quietly and slowly often does more to ease the condition than a lot of serious medication, and I have proved this over and over again – but you still need to consult your doctor before starting a home treatment.
Children respond particularly well to herbal teas, as do animals. Often one can include the teas in a favourite fruit juice or, in the case of animals, offer a bowl of tea alongside their drinking water. People generally wrinkle their noses at the thought of a herbal tea, but if it is well made and sweetened, if liked, with a little honey, it is not only delicious but also so quick to bring relief that one can become quite fanatical about the wonders of herbal teas! I certainly am and very rarely drink any other form of tea.
HERBAL INFUSIONSHerbal infusions comprise fresh or dried herbs, spcies, roots, seeds or flowers that are infused in hot water. Most herbal infusions are caffeine free.
How to make the perfect cupFor best results, use fresh, organically grown leaves or flowers. The easiest way to obtain these is from your own garden. Dried herbs (dried in the shade, never in a microwave or in the sun) can also be used, as long as they are not older than 10 to 12 months. After that, the leaves and flowers taste dry and dusty! The standard brews for herbal teas are as follows:■ When using leaves and flowers: Take ¼ cup fresh leaves and/or flowers and pour over this a cup of boiling water. Allow it to draw for three to five mintues, then strain. Sip slowly.■ When using bark and seeds: Use approximately one or two teaspoons of seed, e.g. aniseed, or one tablespoon of bark, e.g. cinnamon. Pour over this a cup of boiling water, allow to draw for five minutes, then strain.■ Doses for children: ½ cup or even ¼ cup, and give a baby two teaspoonfuls at a time. Lemon balm, chamomile and fennel are invaluable children’s herbs.■ Doses for animals: Add a cup of strained herbal tea to two cups of water in a bowl alongside their water or food bowls.
Classic chamomileIngredients¼ cup fresh (less if dried) chamomile flowers1 thumb-length lemon balm sprig3 allspice berries, lightly crackedA little honey
MethodCover the chamomile flowers with a cup of boiling water. Add the lemon balm and allspice berries. Let it stand for five minutes, then strain. Add honey to sweeten and stir well. Sip slowly and feel the tension melt away.Fennel slimmers’ teaIngredients¼ cup fresh fennel leaves2 tsp fennel seeds¼ cup fresh basil leaves2 tsp apple cider vinegar
MethodPour a cup of boiling water over fresh fennel leaves and seeds. Stir and allow to draw. After five minutes strain, add apple cider vinegar and stir well. Do not be tempted to sweeten it. Take a cup or two daily for 10 days, stop for four days, then conitnue. This tea is excellent with fresh basil leaves as a detoxifier after overindulgent eating.Violet tea for sinus congestionIngredients¼ cup fresh violet leaves and a few flowers¼ cup sage leaves¼ cup bergamot leaves¼ cup tea tree sprigs2 tsp aniseedSqueeze of lemon juice
MethodSimmer violet leaves and flowers, sage leaves, bergamot leaves and tea tree sprigs with aniseed in three cups of water for 10 minutes. Cool, then strain. Add a squeeze of lemon juice if liked. Sip half a cup two or even three times a day, warmed, to relieve sinus congestion. (Steam with several drops of tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil, using a towel as a tent over a steaming pot of water.) Violet flowers can be dried in rice flour for a soothing foot deodorant. The ratio is ½ cup of fresh violets mixed into 1 ½ cups rice flour. Leave to dry in a sealed container. Use cooled violet tea as a wash over the feet first, then dust with violet powder.
Facebook: Margaret Roberts Herbal Centre
She is a herbal pioneer in South Africa and lectures and consults on herbs, medicinal foods and environmentally safe natural insecticides at tertiary institutions countrywide and at her Herbal Centre at De Wildt. She has shared her knowledge through over 30 books and ongoing radio and television series. Margaret received a Laureate Award from Pretoria University in recognition of her outstanding contribution to this field. Contact: 012 504 2121
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