Why Herbal Tea? Well over a year ago, I decided to give up coffee. This not only meant passing up on a morning ritual with my husband and his beloved Gaggia but it also meant giving up romantic notions of sipping cappuccinos in Italian piazzas. On top of this, it abruptly ended my 4pm latte fix and also meant that I no longer had the option of an expresso in lieu of a guilt laden desert. And it soon got worse. Driven by the need to detox and increase well being, I also decided to give up all caffeine including black tea which proved to be even more difficult. Tea and biscuits were key comfort food and very much associated with going home to my parents or chilling out with old flatmates. As well as rainy days, slow days, and Sunday afternoons which all called for a pot of nicely brewed tea. It seemed that while my association with coffee was largely based on pleasurable occasions, my association with tea ran far deeper. Finding a comparable substitute was going to be a challenge.
Mint Tea had always been part of my repertoire, with its wonderful fragrance it went down easily and along with Rosemary and Ginger helped digestion. A friend and I had watched it been ceremoniously prepared in jam jars at road side cafes in Morocco, and most house guests were happy to accept a cup. I asked our gardener to plant some fresh mint and watched in amazement as it practically took over half the flower bed. Its strong green stalks produced more leaves than I could either drink, share or freeze. But while it still produced lovely cups of aromatic infusions, it never felt like an every day tea.
All the health books I read strongly recommended Nettle, Fennel and Dandelion Teas. I bought boxes of all of them, as well as Licorice, Rosehip and Apple. The problem for me was that there was no bite in them, their watery textures were nice to sip but I missed the density of black milky tea. A friend brought me a box of Ginger tea one day when I was sick and feeling awful but unfortunately the association of ginger and vertigo held. I tried drinking Green Tea and even bought a book on its amazing healing qualities. I really wanted to like it and thrive on its anti-oxidant benefits but somehow I could not get beyond its bitter taste. The same could be said for Rooiboos tea. Having first tried it on honeymoon in South Africa, I had every nostalgic reason to want to like it, but even with vanilla and fruit varieties, it still tested like the bark of a tree.
Drinking a glass of lemon with hot water every morning crept into my daily schedule without much effort. I had read so many magazine features dedicated to its wonderful effort on the skin (that even Liz Hurley swore to) that I knew it must hold some benefits. It became my ‘wake-up’ drink and even today as I get up in the morning and stumble bleary eyed to the kitchen, its the first thing I do, to rouse me into the day. Do I feel the benefits? Its hard to say. Do I like it and find it a comfort? Absolutely.
Falling in love with Chamomile was unexpected. Its weedy taste had never grabbed me in the past but one day trawling the internet I came across an article extolling its calming benefits and decided to give it a shot. I bought a box for my (already bursting) tea tray and a packet for my desk in work. I experimented with a cup every day even though its more commonly associated as a nocturnal drink for a calming sleep inducing herbal tea. Because of its arid taste, it provided the texture that I had been missing in lighter tisanes and instead of making me sleepy, it made me feel calm and relaxed, no matter how busy my day. I know its sounds daft, but I also liked the name meaning ‘ground apple’ and there was something reassuring about it being around since Greek and Roman times. No fad teas for me!
And so now, one year on, I still don’t drink coffee at all. Occasionally I will have a cup of tea but somehow the pleasure is gone and it now feels too heavy. While Chamomile is now my preferred herbal tea, I also like to drink mint or fruit teas and of course try new flavours. In addition, to my newly found herbal tea habit, my daily cup of hot water and lemon is here to stay. Already knowing that its good for me makes me feel healthy, and if it means that I will look like a 21 year old in decades to come, then I am all on for that!