Tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world after water, and most people associate tea with either green or black teas. Although green tea is good for you, it certainly shouldn’t be the only tea you’re drinking!
Who doesn’t enjoy a cup of hot tea at the beginning, middle or even end of day… There is something extremely soothing and relaxing about drinking a warm beverage. No wonder tea & coffee shops are thriving in business…
If you are health conscious like me, then you understand the importance of fueling your body with foods that will benefit your body and help it thrive from the inside out. Today’s post is all about teas and the difference between good and bad quality teas, benefits of herbal teas, using herbal teas with children and five of my favourite teas which I recommend you to have in your pantry.
The Problem With Commercial Teas
In ancient times tea was sacred and was consumed for thousands of years for its known medicinal properties. Unfortunately, today’s tea is not even close to the tea our ancestors used to sip on. Many of the teas sold commercially today are actually laden with pesticides, toxins, artificial ingredients, added flavors and GMOs.
This is because commercial teas are not washed prior to being placed into tea bags, and since these leaves are sprayed with cancer causing pesticides, you end up drinking all of that toxic concoction. For this reason, I recommend you to stick ONLY to organic teas which are not sprayed with pesticides.
I know what you are thinking, if bagged tea is not good for you, loose leaf teas must be much healthier. Wrong! Unless explicitly stated that the leaves are organic, loose leaf teas undergo the same processing as the bagged teas.
Moreover, commercial teas contain a chemical called theobromine which acts as a central nervous system stimulant like caffeine, and tannin (aka tannic acid), which can be an irritant to the intestinal mucous lining and kidneys. There is also a dispute in the nutrition world that tannic acid may be aggravating arthritis as British people (who are known for drinking a lot of black tea) have reportedly higher incidents of arthritis relative to people in the USA. This has not yet been proved, but it is worth to think about. Especially when there are such great caffeine-free alternatives to commercial teas on the market.
For a more in depth investigation about teas, I urge you to read this post, written by Food Babe.
How Herbal Teas Benefit Your Family
If you have ever searched for natural relief from an ailment, chances are you have come across various teas as being part of a recommended treatment plan. In fact, the use of teas to treat everything from colds to migraines to insomnia is so prevalent that even those with little interest in natural medicine utilize them for themselves and their families. However, I have learned from experience that using them effectively is not as simple as heading to your local grocery store and grabbing a box of chamomile tea off the shelf.
This is something you will read here at lot: Not all (fill in the blank) are created equal! Well, not all teas are created equal. If you are looking to improve the health of yourself and your family, you need to be certain you are using the right ones. Read below to learn more.
Like always, my intention is never to scare or intimidate you with this information! All I want for you is to be educated and make wise choices for your family, so if you consume a lot of teas, knowing which ones are better and cleaner can help you achieve your health goals.
Stick to Herbal Teas
Herbal teas are not the only natural teas on the market. Black tea is natural. Green tea is natural. Both, however, have caffeine, which is not the best for anyone, and is definitely not good for children. And when you compare the health benefits of herbal teas to other types of teas, the divide becomes larger. While there are health benefits to green tea, for example, they pale in comparison to the medicinal properties of herbal teas.
General Health Benefits of Herbal Teas
The specific benefits of an herbal tea will vary by type, and this means you should carefully select the teas you use based on the benefits you are seeking. Below are some of the common benefits that herbal teas offer, as noted by Dr. Aviva Romm, a well known herbalist:
- Providing a sense of calm or relaxation
- Reducing stress
- Making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep
- Aiding in digestion, stimulating the internal organs
- Cleansing the body
- Increasing energy
- Strengthening the immune system
- Commercial versus Organic Teas
One of the reasons many people shy away from herbal medicine in general is that the industry isn’t regulated the same way that traditional medicines are, leading people to think that they are potentially unsafe. While this is a fallacy that deserves its own series of posts, I wanted to mention it here because it does play a part in the way people purchase herbal teas. Using this same logic, many people assume that they should purchase commercial herbal teas over independent or organic options since they will know exactly what is in their drink. In truth, commercial teas often contain extra ingredients, and not all of them are listed on the packaging. According to Mark E. Stoeckle et. al., about 1/3 of the commercial herbal teas tested generated DNA identifications not found on labels (1).
Additionally, added ingredients are often present which can harm the intestinal lining and alter stomach acid levels when consumed over time. For example, tannin is found in many commercially produced teas, and it is also a chemical used to tan leather—not something you want inside of your body (7). Then there are the teabags themselves, which can cause chemicals to seep into your tea as you brew; some of these chemicals, such as epichlorohydrin, have been linked to cancer in animals as well as immunosuppression (8). Finally, organic teas do not risk the consumption of pesticides, while commercial teas do.
Using Herbal Teas with Children
Unless your doctor has given you reason to act otherwise, you can start using herbal teas with children as soon as it is safe for them to drink water. In some cases, you might even start with them sooner in small, medicinal amounts to help treat problems ranging from colic to constipation (2). With children, it is best to offer weaker teas until they develop more of a taste for them, so steep teas for children for about half the time you would your own tea (2). Common teas to use with children include chamomile, peppermint, and ginger teas. Before you use herbal teas with your children, it is a good idea to consult a naturopathic doctor.
5 Herbal Teas to Keep in Your Pantry
Curious about which herbal teas you should stock up on? Below are my five choice herbal teas to always have on hand.
1. Ginger Tea
Ginger has been found to help with inflammation, allowing it to reduce aches and pains. It is also well known for helping with nausea and digestive issues (3). If you chronically suffer from any of these issues, you might want to consider adding ginger tea to your diet. But even if you do not experience these symptoms on a regular basis, chances are someone in your house will have these troubles at least a few times a year, making this an excellent tea to keep on hand.
2. Dandelion and Milk Thistle Tea
These bitter herbs may not be the most appetizing, but with the right approach, you can help make them more palatable. These teas, used alone or in combination, help to detoxify the body by promoting liver function (4). This will improve your overall health and well-being.
3. Peppermint Tea
This tea is fantastic to have around just for the fact that it is incredibly refreshing. However, it also comes with plenty of medical benefits. First, that refreshing quality can help you wake up and get going in the mornings, no caffeine needed. However, peppermint tea is also great for treating a wide variety of stomach ailments, including stomach upset and gas (5).
4. Echinacea Tea
Echinacea is not a tea you drink once symptoms set in; instead, you use it as a preventative and to stop illness from recurring (3). As you get into flu season, Echinacea should be a staple in your home, helping everyone build their immunity and increasing your chances of making it out of the season unscathed.
5. Chamomile Tea
Out of these five teas, this is the one you absolutely must have. Chamomile is kind of a jack-of- all-trades within the world of herbal teas. Its use can sooth stomach issues, reduce fever, help you manage stress, and even reduce restlessness so you can sleep (6). It is also widely available and tastes great, making it the perfect way to get your family started with herbal teas.
Do you use herbal teas to help manage your family’s health?
Share your experiences with us in the comments.