Teas and Bees

Does LOOSE-LEAF TEA Top TEA BAGS for Flavor & Health Benefits?

At first thought, a tea bag spells convenience. Oh yes, one may say that they don’t have enough time to make a proper herbal infusion. Or, the thought may not have even crossed your mind. Allow me, an herbalist (who has made and drank many herbal tea formulas), to share my 25 plus years experience on this topic.

Bodum Travel PressIf you enjoy herbal infusions as much as I do, you may as well go all the way and soak it loose! A proper steeping vessel, such as a French Press, makes it super easy and much more beneficial for your health. You simply measure 2 tbsp. of your loose leaf blend of choice into the press, and pour 16oz. of just boiled water over the herbs. Cover and allow to steep for 10-15 minutes. Decant by pressing the herbs to the bottom and pouring into your favorite mug or to go cup. There you have it, a brew chocked full of readily available vitamins and minerals, plus full bodied flavor.

When you consume herbal teas this way, 4 to 5 times weekly for 6 to 8 weeks, you will experience a tonifying effect to the organ systems of the body. It works much like super nutritious food would, yet without taxing the digestive system, as the nutrients are readily absorbed into the blood stream. So easy and so satisfying! In our house, we love the ritual of nourishing and nurturing ourselves in this way. At the moment, our daughter enjoys a blend to keep her acne prone skin at bay. I’m enjoying and benefiting from herbs blended to ease menopausal changes, and my husband is toning the organs (lungs and large intestines) most vulnerable in the autumn season.

 Winter Herbal Tea Blend

These herbs are hand picked from the optimum part of the plant for flavor and health benefits and cannot be properly brewed in a tea bag.

Oh yes, I got so excited about sharing my brewing preference that I nearly forgot about the good old tea bag. Well, typically tea bags contain herbs whereby the leaves are crushed, so the freshness and quality can be compromised. As soon as you breakdown the cell wall of a plant to that degree, you lose volatile oils and nutrients. Plus, the amount of herbs in a typical tea bag is a tablespoon if you’re lucky. By the time you fill your mug with water and the steam escapes with whatever volatile oils are left, you end up with a weak cup of tea.

Calming Tea in Tin

This could mean you need 2 tea bags for a decent cup of tea, and it ends up being an inferior quality brew, plus less cost effective.

Now, there are exceptions for having a decent cup of tea bag tea. Examples of herbs that loan themselves to this method, would be the mint family such as, peppermint, spearmint and catnip. Chamomile and lemon balm also give their energies easily to this use.

In summary, you get the most for your buck and body with a loose leaf herbal infusion. Once you get used to doing it this way, plus have what you need for convenient brewing purposes, you will not look back! I would not be without an on going favorite brew for anything. This, for my family and me, has been a powerful health enhancing ritual that I would not trade for any other. Give it a try, and you too may feel the benefits and get hooked!                  

Happy Brewing!

Kimberly

Dandelions—Here's Why We Love Them!

Dandelions (Taraxacum Officinale) are well-adapted to a modern world of "disturbed habitats," such as lawns and sunny, open places. They were even introduced into the Midwest from Europe to provide food for the imported honeybees in early spring. They now grow virtually worldwide. Dandelions spread further, are more difficult to exterminate, and grow under more adverse circumstances than most competitors...

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Summer Time Sun Tea

Summer is here, and it is HOT out there. It’s the time to be out in the sun, on the beach or by a pool, tanning away with an ice cold drink in your hand. And what is better than an iced tea? Whether it’s long island or not is your call... 

One of my favorite options for an always-delicious glass of iced tea is one that is made by the heat source itself…Grab a hold of the best loose-leaf tea you can find (with all those amazing health benefits included) and join me in making a summer time sun tea.

summer herbal tea blend, jar, loose-leaf tea

 

What you’ll need:

- Loose-leaf herbal tea
- 2 glass recipients (jars work really well)
- Water

 

A larger jar can be used for a family sized sun tea, or to drink over a couple of days.

 

  

How to make your Sun Tea: 

  1. To begin, decide on how much tea you would like to make. For each cup of water, you will need about a tablespoon of tea. This time I decided to use a 4-cup jar, so 4 tablespoons of tea - I chose our Summer Herbal Tea Blend.
  2. Fill your recipient with water according to your measurements.
  3. Mix in the tea leaves and herbs.
  4. Place in a sunny area and let it brew!

herbal tea, loose leaf tea, tea blend, jar, water, brew, sun tea, summer

(I usually prefer heaping tablespoons) 

Since it is a sun tea, make sure you choose a sunny day for your brewing. Ideally you should leave the jar of tea in the sun for between 2-3 hours, depending on how strong you like your tea and the time of day it is, but there is no perfect timing. You can leave your jar out before going to work and have it ready when you come back and are ready to relax. I love to leave it out while I tan on these hot summer days…nothing better than a nice cold glass of this stuff!

After 3 hours, here is a before and after of our tea:

herbal tea, loose leaf tea, tea blend, jar, water, brew, sun tea, summer 

  1. Once the tea is brewed to your liking, strain the tea into your second recipient.

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6.  If you like your tea sweet, now is the time to add honey, while the tea is still warm from the sun. (Plus, this way you don’t jeopardize the beneficial qualities of the honey with water that is too hot.

7. Refrigerate your sun tea to cool, or for those impatient souls, add ice!

8. And that's it! You're ready to fight off the heat. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy! 

herbal tea, loose leaf tea, tea blend, jar, water, brew, sun tea, summer

So this is our summer sun tea, but I also love making a moon tea with fresh lemon balm. Same idea, but left under the full moon overnight. The next full moon is on July 12th, so maybe I’ll show you how to make that one soon!

 

Love and Light,

       Kimberly

Why Nettle Works as a Treatment for Seasonal Allergies

Nettle (Urtica Dioica) has been used for centuries to treat allergy symptoms, particularly hayfever which is the most common allergy problem. It contains biologically active compounds that reduce inflammation. Dr. Andrew Wiel M.D. author of Natural Health/ Natural Medicine says he knows of nothing more effective than nettle for allergy relief. And his statement is backed up by studies at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon.

Sting Nettle really does sting, until heated.

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Healing is Only a Cup Away

Regarded for thousands of years by Native Americans to be a key to good health, medicinal herbal teas can assist us in a myriad of ways. Whether it’s treating an acute ailment such as the common cold or long-term benefits such as toning and strengthening the organ systems, it’s a gentle yet effective way to boost overall health and well-being. Consider creating a daily ritual of drinking an herbal tea blend. Toronto based herbalist Marcia Dixon supports this idea. “If you drink tea everyday, you can make all sorts of significant changes to your mood, your skin, your sense of well-being and energy.”

 

 

Herbal teas are rich in nutrients, particularly minerals that are readily absorbed by the body without stressing the digestive system. It’s much like a super food that can heal the body gently because of the uptake of nutrients. “In a lot of ways, we might get more benefit from a good organic tea than from a vitamin pill,” says herbalist Marianne Beacon of Elderberry Herbals in Peterborough, ON. A great benefit of this is that when you consume a particular blend over time, it can strengthen and tone organ systems creating long-lasting benefits. When an herbal blend is targeting a particular outcome and is prepared properly, a medicinal effect can be achieved.

 

It is important to have a proper method of infusion to achieve medicinal effects. After 25 years of formulating and drinking herbal teas, this is the method I value and have found most effective in achieving a potent brew. You need a proper steeping vessel like a French press or a tea maker that allows the herbs to steep loose while staying covered. I find it’s essential to cover your brew right away so the volatile oils from the herbs, so valuable toward effectiveness, do not escape into the air. That’s why Dixon says, “otherwise, your room smells nice but you’re not retaining the medicinal properties.” So begin by measuring 1 tbsp. herb per cup of water into the steeping vessel. To fill an average 16 oz. mug it usually ends up to be 2 tbsp. herb for 2 cups water. Pour just boiled water over herbs and cover to steep 15 to 20 minutes. Strain and enjoy! The tea will still be nice and hot and the herbs will have had a sufficient time to steep. You might be thinking a loose-leaf tea spares convenience, but when you have this down it’s a snap. Plus you have a high quality drink while getting more value for your buck. You’ll get 2 to 3 times more loose-leaf tea for the value of 1 tea bag.

 

As we approach the cooler months of the year when Mother Nature is dying back and preparing to rest, our bodies seem to need extra support. Drinking a medicinal tea can do just that, while also tasting good. It is a little known fact that certain organ systems are more vulnerable in each season of the year. During the winter months we want to boost our kidneys and bladder by drinking a blend of herbs such as, nettle leaf, alfalfa, chamomile, marshmallow root and oat straw. Stress is also a given during the holiday season, so targeting herbs to tone your nervous system and to keep you calm can be so important and helpful. Some suggestions would be to blend herbs such as lemon balm, chamomile, skullcap, spearmint, lavender and passionflower. Incorporating a tea ritual as part of your day gives you a message to pause, reflect and restore your balance and well-being. It’s an incredible way to nurture and treat your self well with little time spent on the process.

 Winter Herbal Tea

Winter Herbal Tea

 

So let’s get started toward optimum health, in such an easy and delightful way, by brewing up a favorite herbal tea. We often forget that something so simple and affordable can have great impact on our health. This time honored medicine has been proven powerful over millenniums.   Simply choose a single herb, or blend for your particular needs, and a steeping vessel of choice. Voila, a perfect marriage! Enjoy an ancient medicine way for modern times.

 

Light & Love