No matter what ails you, a cup of tea can cure it. While the magical virtues of the basic cuppa have long been known, connoisseurs have upped the game with infusions and blends that are even better for you.
Joyoti Mahanta goes tea tasting.
There’s nothing nicer than starting your day with a soothing cup of tea. After water, tea is the most
popular beverage on the planet. And some researchers say that tea packs more of a punch than water.
“If you are trying to improve your health or drop a few pounds, think beyond superfoods and supplements
because tea is the super-drink that deserves your attention, and there are thousands of blends out there,” says
Delhi-based nutritionist Sarita Singh. Here is our guide to the varying health benefits of tea and herbal infusions, so that you can get down to brewing.
If you were wondering why many restaurants serve jasmine tea during meals, it is because this herbal tea can
harmonise the stomach, nourish the liver, help produce saliva (which aids in digestion) and slake thirst. Chamomile also has a reputation for soothing the digestive system. “It acts as a muscle relaxant—it lessens tension in the gastrointestinal tract, also giving relief during menstrual cramps. Also, chamomile tea and peppermint tea are great to sip on after a heavy meal,” says Mumbaibased nutritionist and obesity and lifestyle diseases consultant Naini Setalvad. “Peppermint tea reduces bloating and flatulence and helps with indigestion,” agrees Sarita. “Tea with an infusion of fennel seeds and dandelion also increases the secretion of
digestive enzymes and can help with digestion that way.” Naini adds, “Cranberry tea is also known to help settle an upset stomach, as it lowers uric acid.”
Tea Rx: Green tea, rooibos, redbush, chamomile
Thanks to its high antioxidant content, there’s nothing like a cup of green tea to rid you of soreness. “Green tea is also high in minerals. It also works against inflammation because of its high vitamin and mineral content. Herbs like rooibos or redbush are also great infusions if you can get your hands on them in India,” says
Sarita. “Chamomile tea also helps reduce undereye dark circles, puffiness under the eye and dry skin,” adds Naini.
Tea Rx: Calendula, chamomile, green tea, white tea, licorice, rhubarb
Instead of tackling skin issues from the outside, get to the root of the problem with a cup of tea, which improves the body’s removal of toxins and helps skin clear naturally. “Calendula is an excellent herbal tea for cleansing the skin from the inside out. It is considered a wound-healing herb and also acts on the lymphatic system and promotes digestion. Digestive stagnancy can often result in an overload of liver toxins, which makes calendula a helpful herb for maintaining healthy detoxification in the body,” says Sarita. Dandelion teas are also good for your skin, thanks to their powerful antioxidants and immunitybuilding properties. “Chamomile tea is an excellent all natural skin bleach and is often used in facial scrubs. It renders a healthy glow naturally. It also works wonders in eliminating acne scars and is good for dry skin and eczemas,” says Naini. Mumbai-based celebrity cosmetic
dermatologist Dr Jaishree Sharad adds, “Antioxidant powerhouse green tea has great anti-ageing benefits, while white tea, licorice tea and rhubarb tea work to prevent pigmentation and soothe skin.”
Tea Rx: Peppermint, ginger, raspberry
Peppermint refreshes instantly, hence its popularity in breath mints and chewing gum.
“Peppermint is an anti-emetic and stimulates bile production in the gall bladder to break down fat in the digestive system, thus calming nausea and vomiting. Many people find the taste too strong, but there’s always the option of brewing it weak. It’s extremely refreshing chilled,” explains Naini. Ginger tea is usually made by simmering a few slices of fresh ginger for a couple of minutes in water. Ginger relaxes spasms, and is great for reducing nausea. “Sipping on a hot, pure or mixed ginger tea can help relieve sickness. For those likely to suffer from travel sickness or for pregnant women concerned about morning sickness, ginger tea bags are a good alternative,” says Naini. Raspberry leaf tea is also well-known as a uterine tonic among mothers-to-be.
Tea Rx: Chamomile, passion fruit, lemongrass, mint
“A gentle, calming tea made from dried flowers, chamomile can help with insomnia,” says Sarita. “Rich in vitamin C and antioxidants, passion fruit tea is also a refreshing option. Calming and anti-spasmodic, it relieves stress, insomnia and anxiety. Similarly, lemongrass tea is invigorating and helps reduce fatigue and anxiety. As it is also a good source of vitamin A and C and antioxidants, lemongrass tea helps in preventing or slowing the growth of bacteria,” says Naini. “Lemon balm or mint is helpful in lifting your spirits,” says Sarita. “It is great to beat winter blues and can help improve concentration. Studies have shown that mint or lemon balm tea is safe for children and may help prevent nightmares if they drink it before bed.” Mint, of course, also makes iced tea more refreshing.
Tea Rx: Black, green, white, oolong, calendula, roasted dandelion, nettle, lemon balm, licorice root
Black, green, white and oolong—all these teas are high in antioxidants, which makes them all great for general health and well-being. “When it comes to detoxifying herbal infusions, calendula, roasted dandelion and nettle have a diuretic effect, which helps the kidneys flush out our body’s toxins,” says Sarita. Lemon balm tea is fantastic for the nervous system and liquorice root promotes sustained energy release. “Many scientific studies have shown green tea can assist in weight loss, partly because of its caffeine content but also because of its antioxidants, which have a thermogenic effect. It increases metabolic rate, which means you go on to burn stored fat. Even oolong tea can help you shed some kilos. It increases fat burning at mealtimes,” concludes Sarita.
TEA RX: WHITE BLOSSOM, GINGER, THYME
The white blossom from the elder tree is a traditional cure for colds. It is an effective decongestant because it helps strip the nasal passages of catarrh. “The warming spice, ginger, is an excellent remedy in the early stages of a cold infection and sipping on this brew can hasten recovery,” says Sarita. “The Mediterranean herb thyme is also an effective treatment for colds. This is because thyme contains volatile oil constituents in the plant that protect it against virus and infection. When taken as an infusion, these properties act as
a good decongestant.”
TEA RX: GINSENG
Ginseng is considered as one of the most nutritious herbal supplements. It boosts memory, concentration and energy. Naini says, “Ginseng is rejuvenating and works against fatigue, boosting your immune system, and improving signs of mental distress, respiratory concerns, arthritis and sexual problems. Several studies have suggested that drinking ginseng tea regularly reduces the risk of cancer. It also lessens the effects of Crohn’s Disease and is effective against Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) syndrome and in lowering LDL (bad cholesterol levels).”