In the midst of the Coffee revolution, there are those that are avid tea drinkers. I happen to be one of them. Perhaps it is because I became extremely acidic in my early coffee drinking days or because, as an herbalist, I began drinking tea formulations for health reasons. Either way I have had the opportunity to explore the many faces of tea and would like to put in a plug for those ancient pathways.
According to legend, in 2732 B.C. Emperor Shen Nung discovered tea when leaves from a wild tree blew into his pot of boiling water. He was immediately interested in the pleasant scent of the resulting brew, and drank some. It became popular there in the 16th century and was discovered by the English in the 17th century. When black and green teas were gaining popularity in England, sage was being imported in large amounts into China as their most popular tea. I have made beverage tea with my own herbs using sage as the base and it is a most unique flavor.
As far as caffeinated varieties or beverage teas go there are black, green and white in almost as many flavors and roasting varieties as you can imagine. Black teas have the greatest amount of caffeine and the strongest tannins. Green teas are lighter with moderate amounts of caffeine and a wide range of health benefits including anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, energizing and DNA protecting polyphenols. White teas are the lightest, least caffeinated and are good carriers for flavor and medicinal herbs.
Then there are the herbs! There are so many ways that you can get medicinal tonics by sipping the wide variety of medicinal herbs instead of taking vitamins, pharmaceuticals or supplements. "That is where herbs are strongest; their potency most revealed; their healing most profound; in the everyday using to them as food, as beverage tea, and as 'an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure' type of medicine" Rosemary Gladstar.
There are flowers, roots, leaves in innumerable flavors, scents and combinations. For me, it is to start my day with a cup of personally formulated combination of dried leaves and flowers, with a light, sweet flavor that gives me a wide variety of minerals and micro-nutrients, balances my hormones and warms me up. With my devotional book and mug of tea, I am able to stabilize my thoughts as well as my cortisol levels and begin my day without hurry as I consider what is before me. As I look at the jars of dried herbs in my pantry, I have all the tools I need to create a blend and flavor that appeals to my differing senses on any given day. And when the garden is giving up her herbal splendor, I have the opportunity to go out and pick something fresh for a whole other variety of choices. One example is the common chamomile that we associate with evening and sleep. Picked fresh it has an amazing citrus flavor that can help you arise to any occasion.
Do you have a creative, beauty-loving side? Don't underestimate the power of tea!
As you expand your herbal pantry, keep these points in mind:
. Know the flavors & properties of each one
. Start with an idea of what flavor you are trying to obtain
. Combine for looks, blending of flavor and aroma
. Taste test and adjust
. Flowers for color, herbs for scent, texture, taste
. Remember to write down the recipe
. They make great gifts
Cup of tea anyone?