“A simple cup of tea is far from a simple matter.”
― Mary Lou Heiss, The Story of Tea: A Cultural History and Drinking Guide
It’s always fascinated me, the way that people prepare their tea before drinking it. Tea is prepared differently in so many cultures across the world. Do you ever wonder why certain ingredients are added to a cup of tea? Or wonder what you could use to literally spice up an already fabulous tea? Let’s go beyond the boundaries of milk and sugar, and see what other options exist in the world of tea.
I’m usually Plain Jane when it comes to tea. I never use sugar, or obviously, milk, but I have experimented with most of these suggestions. From my experiences, these tips are definitely tea enhancers and can be used for minor ailments too.
A good way to start experimenting with flavors is to just take a look at your spice rack, and pick one or two of your favorite flavors. Black tea is particularly good for adding spice. Chai tea is made from spices, and when I go to the coffee shop, I usually order a soy chai latte or tea. It’s one of my favorites if I’m looking for a special treat. I got hooked on chai years ago when my roommate in college would make chai tea from scratch so we could stay up late working on homework assignment or studying for finals. I cannot say that I miss the homework, but having someone brew some homemade chai tea for you is pretty magical.
Anyways, heres a list of potential spices for your next cup of tea. None of these are really that unusual to have at home, especially if you are a baker: cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, nutmeg, ginger, black pepper, allspice, and vanilla.
Flower blossoms are a great addition to tea. They add a nice fragrant touch, smell nice, and look pretty. Who doesn’t want their tea to have any of those qualities? Make sure the flower petals are edible, very important.. These are the most common varieties that you’ll find in tea: jasmine, rose petals, and cherry blossoms. I recently purchased some jasmine-rose petal loose leaf tea from this local coffee and tea shop, and I can’t get enough of it.
Agave nectar is a vegan alternative to honey, and can be used as a natural sweetener. It also has a much lower glycemic index than honey. People love it, because agave is sweeter than sugar, and has about the same amount of calories as sugar. So, if you’re trying to cut calories, use less agave than sugar to get the same effects with less calories. Agave can also make tea taste sweeter without disrupting your blood sugar levels. It’s also pretty readily available now at grocery stores, because of it’s recent popularity.
Try something simple, like a slice of lemon. There are many benefits to putting lemon into your tea besides the refreshing taste and the high vitamin C intake. It takes aftertastes away and decreases the harshness of some teas. Really any citrus fruit can be used in hot or cold tea: Lemon, lime, or orange. Lemon also relaxes your mind and body, and reduces blood pressure, as it is a blood purifier. It can also help you lose weight. By drinking a cup in the morning, you can kick-start your metabolism.
Mint, spearmint or peppermint, is popular in aromatherapy, inhaling mint can Improve a person’s mood, and allow the body to relax. This herb is also a natural healer when ingested in tea. Properties of peppermint tea can reduce stress and anxiety. The menthol that is naturally present in the tea is a muscle relaxant, which is why peppermint is such an effective stress reliever. The natural relaxing properties of peppermint can also help you get a more restful sleep at night.
Peppermint tea can be a natural decongestant. It can clear sinuses and soothe a sore throat. Mint is also more commonly known for relieving bad breath. Instead of popping a piece of chewing gum with almost no nutritional value, try sipping a cup a peppermint tea and also get all of these benefits
Make a cup tea of peppermint tea for an upset stomach by pouring boiling water over 1 to 2 tsp. of dried peppermint leaves. Allow the tea to steep for five minutes before consuming. Choose any of these tea varieties for relief: fresh peppermint leaves, dried tea leaves or tea bags.
Ginger tea is good for nausea. Drink a cup before going on car rides to prevent motion sickness. It can also help with morning sickness. Ginger tea can soothe nerves and prevent vomiting, and also provides relief for headaches and migraines.
Ginger is also known for naturally reducing inflammation, easing muscle and joint pain. Like pains associated with rheumatoid arthritis, which many people struggle with. Ginger gets the blood in your body flowing improving your circulation. This will give you an energy boost, and can help you with any feelings of sluggishness or fatigue.
It also Improves digestion by acting as an appetite stimulant, and increases absorption of food, which eases tummy aches after over-eating. Ginger can also be a natural way to relieve gas while reducing bloating and helps with IBS. Ginger tea can be drunk before going to sleep. It works overnight while you’re sleeping, and improves digestion that way as well.
Ginger tea has high levels of anti-oxidants, so it can strengthen your immunity system. With an improved immune system, you may get sick less often, recover more quickly, and avoid whatever everyone else is coming down with while you stay healthy!
AND It improves your breath while cleansing your palate, ridding your mouth of bad tastes.
Who wouldn’t want to drink ginger tea? Oh and did I tell you that it’s also delicious?