If you ever come to my house, almost inevitably you will be offered a cup of tea. And tea is no small thing here either. An array of flavors, moods, cures, and energy levels are available upon request. Oh yes, and do you want flavoring, sugar, honey, or milk (evaporated, sweetened condensed, or perhaps just cream)?
This penchant for tea has given me quite a reputation in my circle of friends. I even had someone call me the other day with a headache, stating that a mutual friend had suggested “she might have a tea for that.” In fact, I did have a tea for that – and so decided to put together a list of 10 teas you should keep on hand for a lazy summer day, cold winter night, or anything in between.
1. Green Tea
Green tea has long been standard fare for tea drinkers the world over, and for good reason. Full of antioxidants, green tea has been shown in multiple studies to help everything from heart disease, to cancer, to weight loss, to keeping dementia at bay. The caffeine in green tea provides a boost of energy, and it is a good foundational tea that can be mixed with almost anything else to create a plethora of different experiences. Green tea by itself or with a bit of lemon and honey also makes a phenomenal iced tea.
2. Black Tea
Another antioxidant powerhouse, black tea is known for its rich and full flavor, and the most common base for a delicious cup of chai tea – one of my personal favorites. Start with black tea, add spices such as cardamom, ginger, cloves, and cinnamon, (which will need to be strained out prior to serving if you are not using a tea bag), sweeten as desires, and pour in some evaporated or steamed milk, and you have a chai latte like you might find at the local coffee house. It’s as good or better as a morning cup of coffee in my book, and with the benefits of the tea and the spices combined, much healthier than coffee too.
If you are not looking for the wake-up power of black or green tea, then a cup of chamomile might be just what the doctor ordered. Long known as a sleep aid (safe for children too), it also may help muscle cramps, aid digestion, and boost the immune system. And if you are looking for an extra relaxing tea, try chamomile with Valerian root.
4. Slippery Elm
When you get that sore throat that just won’t go away, there is nothing as soothing as slippery elm. It will help your throat feel better and the coughing subside so you can rest and feel better.
5. White Tea
Studies have found that white tea has the highest cancer fighting properties of any tea. It boosts immunity, and helps skin cells protect themselves against the harmful effects of the sun. White tea has a much milder flavor than either black or green.
Echinacea is well known for boosting the immune system, helping to prevent illness, and helping us to get well when we do get sick. Sitting with a steaming hot cup helps you feel better from a cold, not only through the tea itself, but by breathing in the hot aromatic steam.
7. Red Raspberry Leaves
Known as the “woman’s herb,” red raspberry leaves help with a wide range of women’s concerns, from menstrual cramps to PMS, to helping prepare for labor. My midwife instructed me to drink two cups a day throughout my entire pregnancy and what a difference it made!
Ginger soothes the stomach, is another immune enhancing food, and tastes rich and spicy. If you struggle with motion sickness, morning sickness, or just general stomach sickness, you may be surprised at how quick and effective ginger is at settling it down. Also shown in some studies to have a positive impact on migraines and help diabetics maintain steady blood sugar levels, there are plenty of reasons to love ginger.
Whereas ginger is the tea of choice for a migraine, mint may help with a tension headache. It also is a digestive aid (one of the reasons for the mint after dinner), and works well as an expectorant helping to get rid of phlegm and mucus. Toothpaste tends to include mint not only because it tastes and smells good, but also because it helps kill bacteria in your mouth, improving your oral health.
Lemon is another of those versatile staples you should always keep around. Not only does it taste great, it can do everything from relieve stress, to lower blood pressure, to calm a cold. It also can help reduce a fever, and even helps with constipation.
The benefits of drinking tea go beyond the properties of any individual tea. Many cultures have known for centuries that taking the time for a proper cup of tea can encourage conversation, relieve stress, and invigorate the senses. Unlike many other drinks such as pop or coffee, tea is equivalent to drinking plain water as far as getting all your daily liquid goes. Once you get started, you might find it hard to stop. Try mixing lemon and mint, red raspberry and chamomile, or adding a new flavor all together, such as blueberry with green tea, or jasmine and ginger. Enjoy!