Sometimes, after I have been under the weather, I find I change a ‘bad’ habit or two pretty easily. I might take it as an opportunity to give up tea or coffee or sugar, for example. Mostly when I have a cold or the flu I feel like being strict with myself until I feel better, which normally means eating well and getting lots of rest. At the end of this period I find I have often had an unintentional mini detox. This means I come out the other end feeling stronger and purer! As you will know if you have ever tried to give it up or cut it back, caffeine is a very addictive drug, so any excuse to take a break is a good idea. And once you are over the headaches and the taste for builder’s tea has receded, it’s an ideal time to add to your tea cupboard as your taste buds will really be able to appreciate the subtle flavours of herbal teas.
Firstly, everyone should experiment with making tea from fresh garden herbs. Mint is an obvious choice, but if you have or know someone who has lemon verbena or lemon balm growing nearby then try these out! Also, never forget that ginger tea is a miracle for easing stomach cramps and nausea; use one chamomile tea bag and add three or four slices of fresh ginger and some fresh lemon juice for a super tummy tea. You can top the ginger slices up with hot water over and over.
I find the quality of bagged herbal teas can vary hugely, and the quality really affects the taste and your enjoyment of the tea. So, look for a good quality brand, preferably organic (who wants a load of chemicals in their tea?). Here are a few…
Pukka is a relatively new tea company based in the UK but with strong Indian influence. The company uses a lot of spices, but in very subtle ways. The green teas are excellent (try the new Supreme Matcha Green — it’s not Matcha, as I mention it below, but rather a whole leaf tea bag containing a variety of different green teas. What I really like about it is that it doesn’t seem to go bitter like some other green teas do; I have even forgotten the bag in the mug and it was still nice five minutes later.
Other Pukka favourites to try are: Three Fennel, Three Mint, Echinacea and Elderberry, Vanilla Chai, Manuka Honey and Lemon, and Tulsi, which is also known as Holy Basil in Ayurvedic Medicine. It is said to help with concentration and mental agility – sounds good doesn’t it! Luckily it also tastes great. To be honest — the whole Pukka range tastes great!
Yogi is another great range of Herbal Teas — also formulated on Ayurvedic principles and hence use a lot of cinnamon and liquorice; their Lemon and Ginger is one of the most popular, but they also do a delicious Detox and a very soothing Bedtime tea.
In Organico Café, we also have a range of high quality organic loose leaf herbal teas we some nice loose leaf tea pots and little boxes of bags to make your own tea bag, spoons to measure the perfect cup and a range of different strainers also. We have both black and green loose organic teas, as well as fruity and plain herbs including Sleepy Mint, which is a lovely soothing blend of chamomile and mint. One of my favorites is Roman Provence Rooibos – Luxury rooibos, rosehip, rose petals, lavender, dried currants, dried elderberries, natural flavors. Each cup takes you on a romantic journey through the south of France…perfect for a chilly winter evening in West cork!
I must talk about Rooibos for a moment; it is such a wonderful tea. In some African countries it is the main tea that is drunk, and as it can be taken with milk we often suggest it as a way of cutting down on ‘tea tea’. It comes with a vanilla flavour, earl grey, chai, as a green rooibos, and probably others I can’t remember right now! If you haven’t yet tried it you really should, it’s delicious. And, naturally enough, it’s healthy too!
A good alternative to coffee is Macachino, made from raw cacao, raw maca and coconut sugar. Produced by the Irish raw foods company Iswari, based in Kinsale, Macachino is a good energy booster, and it tastes good made with water and a milk of your choice (just like coffee really!) and has all of the health benefits of maca too.
A similar sounding drink is Matcha (finely powdered green tea), which is a huge hit in Organico Cafe. Matcha is made from very high quality green tea, which is then ‘matcharised’ by a powerful machine and ground to a very fine powder, which looks at first like powdered paint. Made traditionally with simply hot water, it can be quite strong tasting and might only appeal to hardened Green Tea drinkers, but made with hot milk and honey…mmm! Matchchino!
Come and try one in Organico Cafe if you aren’t sure — it’s a good idea to try before you buy, as quality Matcha doesn’t come cheap. However, it is even more packed with both energy and antioxidants than regular green tea is, so at least you can skip some supplements that morning to offset the cost — what you do need however to make a good cup of matcha is a whisk. You can use a small electric one, or a special bambu hand whisk. We do normally stock them and will have them back in again soon.
For these and many more delicious and healthy teas call in to your local healthfood shop or come over to Bantry and sample our range in Organico Café; it’s possible we have the biggest range in West Cork!