Health & Wellness

Call them herbal teas or tisanes, the cup runneth over! – Part I

This new world of health frenzy has seen the tea cultures around the world evolving. The tea ceremonies in China and Japan may still be mini celebrations, but the quick cuppa to quick start healing is more sought-after. Tea has caught special attention as a health-promoting potion owing its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties and also due to the multitudes of flavours to relish from.

Today when we talk about herbal teas, we should get one thing straight; true teas – green tea, black tea, oolong tea are the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. However, herbal teas are not true teas but an infusion or decoction of several other botanicals, also with generous amounts of healing properties. These infusions could include herbs and spices along with roots, barks, stems, petals and seeds of fruits and flowers. As a rule, they may or may not be mixed into tea leaves to make infusions as they work fabulously on their own as well. The Europeans call them Tisanes, pronounced “tea-zahns,” made by steeping botanicals in boiling water. So, let’s get down to exploring some not only flavourful but mind, body and soul soothing tisanes.

Jasmine flower Tisane

Jasmine flowers have a very special place in Indian households. They not only symbolise purity and eternal love, but the mere aroma of these beauties bring calm into the conscious realm. Called Yasmine in Persian, it rightly means “Gift of God” owing to the tremendous health benefits it offers.

Including flavours and scents in teas is considered to be the biggest contribution of the Song Era to the world. Jasmine also gained in popularity as an addition to teas during the Song Dynasty of Chinese civilization though it had been around way longer.

Jasminum 0fficinale known as the Common Jasmine is largely used to make a sensual and mood enhancing cuppa. The favours bestowed by this fragrant tisane are the many and varied health benefits.

Choke-full of antioxidants

The polyphenols imbued in jasmine flowers are known to boost the immune system while fighting free radicals. Antioxidants are notoriously celebrated in natural foods with our increasingly fast lifestyles.

Anti-anxiety and stimulant properties

Some studies have shown how the jasmine flowers have the potential to act on the GABA receptors thus enhancing the activity of GABA leading to antianxiety qualities. It has been claimed “as good as Valium” by a research carried out in Germany.

Along with jasmine essential oil, its tea is also popular in the practice of aromatherapy to induce serenity. It has been studied further to show that this flower works as a remarkable stimulant making the mind aroused and more alert.

Aids in increasing metabolism and leads to weight loss

The most exalted benefit of jasmine flower tea is its possible effect in stimulating metabolism due to the presence of a unique plant compound called EGCG. This in turn leads to weight loss by burning fat and reducing the LDL levels according to some valuable research work done in Indonesia.

Improves digestion

It is believed that the antioxidants in jasmine flowers have exceptional effects on the digestive system. Its gastroprotective properties help manage irritable bowel syndrome, boosts digestion and promotes the good gut bacteria. As it is also deemed to have an analgesic effect, it works as an aid for abdominal pain when mixed with green tea.

Protects the heart

As jasmine flowers are known to aid weight loss, which is a major cause for heart troubles, it is deemed to protect the heart while decreasing the LDL levels. Furthermore, its anticoagulant property could also reduce the risk of heart attacks or strokes.

How to make:

This caffeine-free tisane should be brewed.

Brewing

Add 1-1.5 tsp of dried jasmine buds or petals in a cup of water that has been boiled and left aside for 2 minutes.

Let it steep for 8 to 10 minutes.

You can re-steep it also though the flavour will be lighter with every steep.

Hibiscus flower Tisane

Surprisingly, these colourful blossoms of Hibiscus have more medicinal potency than their decorative quotient. Although they come in myriad colours, Hibiscus sabdariffa – the red flower, has the most health promoting benefits amongst all the other varieties present.

This brilliant red flower has been called as Japa in Ayurveda and is used in powder or flower form. Whereas it was called the drink of the Pharaohs, this sour tea as known in Iran, has been used as a traditional medicine to treat multiple ailments.

Natural cooling agent

This refreshing summertime tea has been lauded by many cultures around the world to have cooling and astringent properties, especially the Egyptians. Additionally, Hibiscus tea can be used as a laxative and diuretic if taken in large doses.

Helps to balance hormones

Its cooling property comes with an additional ability to balance the menopausal hormones. It is known to alleviate hot flushes, mood swings and depression associated with menopause specifically.

Promotes heart health

Some studies have shown amazing results in reducing total cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL while increasing the HDL cholesterol. Many traditional uses as folk remedy world over have hailed this particular flower to treat and manage hypertension naturally. Likewise, its blood thinning and improved blood circulating properties aid in overall heart health. Over and above, it detoxifies the liver to keep inflammation at bay with just one cup of this elixir a day.

Helps to maintain beautiful hair and skin

As we saw earlier, the heat reducing quality of Hibiscus helps prevent premature greying of the hair. Coupled with the unique ability to improve blood circulation in the body, it stimulates hair growth by providing essential nutrients to the follicles.

Hibiscus tea hair rinse is a revered remedy to reduce itching and irritation of the scalp and dandruff. As a rich source of vitamin C, it helps produce enough collagen to tackle hair breakage.

Besides, the tea can also be used as a face rinse which promises to absorb ultraviolet radiation that leads to premature ageing of the skin.

How to make:

This caffeine-free tisane can be brewed or boiled.

Brewing

Add 1.5-2 tsp of dried hibiscus in a cup of boiling water.

Let it steep for 8 to 10 minutes.

Boiling

Add 4-5 hibiscus petals to a cup of boiling water.

Boil for about 2 minutes and strain.

Can be paired with roasted cumin and honey to make it more luxurious.

Oregano Tisane

Oregano, Origanum vulgare, as mythology indicates, was given to the Greeks by Aphrodite as a gift to make men happier. In Greek, it means “joy of mountains.”

It has been an indispensable ingredient in Greek and Italian dishes for ages and its pungent taste has made it popular in many world cuisines.

The phytochemical compounds imbued in oregano have exhibited varied health benefits owing to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The flavonoids and phenolic acids have shown to have anti-cancer properties in some studies, asks for more promising research into it. A particular study has also shown that the decoction of oregano with longer brewing times rather that an infusion has the potential to better extract the compounds leading to better antioxidant activities.

Oregano has been used in traditional folk medicine in the Mediterranean to alleviate symptoms of many different ailments.

Aids digestion

Oregano is believed to reduce gas and help support the overall digestive system while relaxing it. It is a great ingredient to alleviate indigestion and relieve headaches due to the oils naturally found in oregano. A cup of this tea will leave you feeling light and spirited.

Has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties

According to a recent study, components in oregano oil called carvacrol and thymol were seen to have prevented bacterial growth in foods. Both carvacrol and thymol have shown similar properties that fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. They also seem to show a lot of antibacterial activity in some studies, which could lead us to believe its potential as a natural antibiotic.

Potential anti-cancer properties

Carvacrol and thymol in oregano have also been studied in many laboratories, and they do suggest having the potential to be therapeutic in tumour growths. These compounds seem to show promise in stopping the growth of cancer cells in colon cancers and killing them, however more study is needed to conduct clinical human trials.

Helps manage diabetes

As oregano has been used traditionally to manage blood sugar levels, a study was taken up in 2016 to see the link more clearly. The study on rodents showed that some potent compounds in oregano had the potential restore insulin sensitivity leading in type 2 diabetes. It could regulate the gene that works on carbohydrate and fat metabolism while reviving the damaged liver and kidney tissue.

Other possible health benefits

Respiratory ailments like coughs, asthma, bronchitis have been unknown to react well to oregano. Urinary tract infections, rheumatoid arthritis, menstrual cramps and skin problems could be resolved by the administration of oregano. Simple headaches can also be eased with this super herb.

How to make:

This caffeine-free tisane should be brewed.

Brewing

Add 2 tsp of dried oregano in a cup of water of boiling water.

Let it steep for 2 to 4 minutes.

Strain and sip.

Word of caution:

While herbs as a supplement are likely to be safe for most people, you should ask your doctor before starting any supplement, especially if you have any chronic medical conditions or are on medications or treatments.

Article by Payal Kurian

1 comment on “Call them herbal teas or tisanes, the cup runneth over! – Part I

  1. Good article. Very extensively researched and written concisely. Looking forward to trying out these new tisanes😊

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