08 Jun Tea Time
Tea is soothing, satiating and frequently comes with healing benefits. Best of all, it’s vegan. Here, we uncover some of the best kinds of tea, the benefits they hold and the best ways to enjoy them.
Why we love tea!
Organic tea is literally the world’s healthiest vitamin water, with varieties such as black and green, chamomile and peppermint and many others, all containing antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation, combat cell damage and potentially even reduce the risk of cancer and diabetes.
Think: Early Grey, English Breakfast, Irish Breakfast, Ceylon, etc. “Black teas are packed with polyphenols and catechism, which are antioxidants that protect DNA cell damage,” says naturopath Karina Francois from Infinite Health in Victoria (infintehealthpractice.com.au).
Best enjoyed at breakfast or lunch, due to its caffeine content, black can be very uplifting and even calming. Gently vegan’s Lifestyle Director, Shonagh Walker drinks it with Bonsoy Milk and coconut syrup to sweeten and refers to it as ”mother’s milk” as it’s the only thing that calms her down when she’s stressed.
Black tea is also great served straight up, without additives, and it can also be served with rice milk, which tends not to curdle in hot water. Francois warns: “If you have low iron, it’s preferable not to drink black when you’re eating a meal, as the tannins can hinder the absorption of iron.”
Try: Tea2 Organic Earl Grey Loose Leaf Flavoured Black Tea, $14, t2tea.com
With its mild menthol flavour, peppermint tea is beautiful when enjoyed simply as it is. However, Francois suggests adding lemon and a vegan sweetener like rice syrup or coconut syrup if you’re suffering colds and flu.
“Peppermint is a wonderful gut healer, is soothing and helps with gas and digestion,” she adds. “It also has immune properties, so is perfect to help fight of winter woes. Francois says it can be enjoyed at any time of the day but is particularly beneficial at night to soothe the gut and induce relaxation before bed.
Try T2 Organic Peppermint Loose Leaf Tea, from $14, t2tea.com
A wonderful relaxant with a calming effect on the nervous system, chamomile tea is also fantastic for reducing gut bloating. “It helps to stop spasms that may cause pain in the gut or it can help ease cramping during your menstrual cycle,” says Francois. “it also promotes restful sleep, due to its high magnesium levels.” A little-known benefit is that it’s great for the skin and applied topically, may help relieve minor skin ailments, say Francois.
Sweet in flavour, this can be served hot or cold (as can all of the teas mentioned in this article) and has myriad health benefits. “It’s a great adrenal tonic, a wonderful expectorant (helps break down phlegm, so you can cough it out) and it can assist with reflux and indigestion,” says Francois. “It can help to raise blood pressure, which is great if you suffer from low blood pressure, and it is also a great detox aid.” Francois advises that pregnant women or anyone with high blood pressure should avoid it, as should those on certain medications. “There are some drug interactions that we should be mindful of, such as anti-depressants, MAO inhibitors and heart medications. Always check with your doctor.”
Try: Higher Living Licorice Tea, $3.70, aussiehealthproducts.com.au
With its hot and spicy flavour, this tea is perfect when served with ginger and a vegan sweetener such as rice or coconut syrup and is delicious either hot or cold. “It’s health benefits are many,” says Francois. “It is warming, antiviral, and antibacterial. It increases circulation and relieves nausea, motion sickness and pain. It’s also great for upset stomach, gas and irritable bowel. Ginger can reduce inflammation, Catherine Carr – GV’s Publisher, believes it helps relieve the inflammatory effects of her Hashimoto’s disease. It also helps with acid reflux situations. Francois also uses ginger in compresses also to help soothe muscle pain.”
Try: Higher Living Ginger Kick Tea, $3.70, aussiehealthproducts.com.au
With its bitter flavour, you’re probably going to want to sweeten this and potentially even add a plant-based milk – GV’s Shonagh drinks it with coconut syrup and Bonsoy non GMO Soy Milk, but Francois says that unsweetened almond milk works a treat, too. “Dandelion roots and leaves are great for detoxing the liver, kidneys, bowel, and lymphatic system,” says Francois. “It can act as a diuretic. Dandelion also can sooth the digestive system, relieve constipation and improve appetite. Drink it prior to meals, as it can assist digestion and get the gastric juices flowing.
Try: Symington’s Dandelion Tea, from $7.60, aussiehealthproducts.com.au
With its uplifting, citrus flavour, this tea is best sipped as it is. “It’s has high levels of citral, which is antibacterial, antiseptic and antifungal,” says Francois, “and can be enjoyed at any time of the day.
Try: Yarra Valley Tea Company Aunt Myrtle, from $7.95, yarravalleytea.com.au
Bitter in flavour, this is best served with lemon juice to up its alkalising benefits, says Francois. “It’s health benefits include heart and brain health and stabilisation of blood sugars It’s loaded with antioxidants and the polyphenols in green tea act as anti-inflammatories”
Be warned: “In some people, it can upset the stomach and can keep you awake due to its caffeine content,” says Francois. For this reason, it’s best sipped at breakfast and lunch.
This powdered version of green tea has been grown in a particular way to enhance the benefits of normal green tea to almost ‘superpower’ levels.
“One cup can be equivalent to 10 cups of normal green tea,” says Francois. “It packs a powerful antioxidant punch, which is important in the body’s immunity, fighting infection and disease, and in prevention of aging and chronic diseases, it is high in caffeine, so don’t drink it after 2pm if you want a restful sleep.”
Add a couple of teaspoons to hot water and sip slowly. You can also add plant-based milk and serve it up as a latte, which GV’s Publisher, Catherine, is a fan of doing.
For Safety’s Sake
To avoid the risk of toxic load from pesticides, make sure you’re only drinking certified organic herbal tea, stresses Francois. “Organic will allow the nutrients of tea to enter your body unaltered, without the side-effects of pesticides working against its cleansing properties.”
These toxins from pesticides can detract from the healing and cleansing properties of the teas and may even lead to health issues if you drink tea in larger volumes.
“Human pesticide consumption has been linked to short-term health issues such as headaches and nausea, and in some cases to more serious conditions of infertility, endocrine disruptions and there are even suggested links to cancer. The only way to ensure you’re not exposing yourself is to drink only organic.”
How do you know? Well, look for a certification icon on the package, such as Australian Certified Organic (ACO) or NASAA (National Association for Sustainable Agriculture), both of which monitor organic farms stringently to ensure they are adhering to organic practises at all times.
“Organic tea farms use compost, plants and organic matter to provide essential ground cover and fill the soil with nutrients to allow sustainable, fertile land for many harvests to come,” says Francois. “This natural soil brings the organic tea plants to life; rich with minerals, amino acids and vitamins. When making tea, use loose leaf (while your tea bag may not contain plastic, you can never be 100% sure, so loose leaf is always the best option) and always cover the cup so that the plant oils don’t evaporate.”
Finally, always check with your GP to ensure the tea you’re drinking doesn’t interfere with any pre-existing medical condition you may have, or indeed interfere with any medication you may be taking. Because they are natural, we frequently think of teas as being safe for all, which they generally are, but it’s important to note that nature and its ingredients are often the most potent substances we have at hand and as such should always be treated with respect and caution.
Beauty and Lifestyle Director Shonagh Walker