Life

Herbal and fruit infusions proving to be more and more people's cup of tea

A cuppa used to be jus that – a brew of black or builder's tea. Increasingly, though, we are realising that we can get tasty teas in many varieties and from many parts of the world – and many of them have health benefits too, writes Roisin Armstrong

There is some evidence that peppermint tea benefits health because of the peppermint oil that it contains
Roisin Armstrong

YOU may have noticed that when you shop for tea now in the supermarket aisle that the range has expanded exponentially. While it is truly doubtful that the regular black tea we all love so much, and which resolves many an issue, will ever be replaced, the choice these days is impressive.

Research on herbal tea sales from 2014 showed that the in the UK, sales of fruit and herbal teabags had risen by 31 per cent, representing a revenue of £76 million; the sale of black tea had fallen by 6 per cent in the preceding five years.

The huge variety of herbal and fruit teas available covers a very wide range of health benefits, from digestive problems, insomnia and muscle cramps to improving the immune system.

In the past few months I have become a bit of a peppermint tea drinker. There's a wide range available; I especially like the flavour from the new Pukka Three Mint tea. Their Three range is really good – Pukka also have a Three Chamomile. Often used to help insomnia, chamomile is found to increase urinary levels of glycine, an amino acid which is known to relieve muscle spasms, especially those that cause menstrual pain.

The Three Ginger will satisfy all the ginger needs you will ever have. Ginger tea is famous for its stomach-settling ability, especially during pregnancy where it is said to ease nausea and vomiting.

Another brand called Praana has a ginger blend with lemon peel, liquorice root, turmeric root and honeybush, which will help with inflammation and help ease sugar cravings. Check in your health shop but you may have to order tea from this Norwegian company online. It costs £2.99 for 20 bags, plus postage and packaging.

For aiding sleep, I have tried most every brand on the market. Most sleep teas contain liquorice which I really dislike so it can be hard to find one that I can warm to. Clipper has one with the wonderful name of Snore and Peace which doesn't necessitate getting up for a pee fours hours later and contains a soothing blend of chamomile, lemon balm, lemongrass, lavender, fennel seeds, rosehip, and spearmint.

But my absolute favourite is Sleepytime tea by Celestial. I love products that do what they say on the tin! Sleepytime is a very tasty blend of chamomile, spearmint, lemongrass, Tilia flowers, blackberry leaves, orange blossoms, hawthorn and rosebuds.

Tilia flowers, also called Linden flowers, are from lime trees, which are very prolific across Europe – Belfast is full of them – and Linden Blossom oil is my absolute favourite essential oil. (It's perfume is divine.)

Tilia flowers are used in herbalism for colds, cough, fever, infections, inflammation, high blood pressure, headache – particularly migraine – and as a diuretic and antispasmodic, where it reduces smooth-muscle spasm along the digestive tract. And, for the purposes of this tea, it is sedative.

In some traditional medicines, Tilia flowers have been used internally as tea for treatment of disorders of the respiratory tract, fever and flu. New evidence shows that the flowers may be protective of the liver; the wood is used for liver and gallbladder disorders and cellulitis and used topically to treat oedema or infection such as cellulitis or ulcers of the lower leg.

Health benefits of blackberry include better digestive health, strengthened immune defence, healthy functioning of heart, prevention of cancer and relief from endothelial dysfunction.

Blackberry provides cognitive benefits and aids in enhancing memory, weight management, keeping the bones strong; it is also said to encourage healthy skin, improved vision and disease-free eyes, and normal blood clotting and may also serve as a valuable food during pregnancy owing to an impressive gamut of healthful nutrients.

As you can see, herbal teas can add a lot to your nutritional intake and have widely beneficial qualities.

roisin835@btopenworld.com

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