The 5 Herbal Teas that live in my pantry.

Disclaimer: I am a coffee drinker.

I drink one cup of coffee every single morning and I will likely never give it up. My body seems to thrive on 8oz, not too strong, somewhere between 7-8am every darn day. Any more than 8oz and I feel jittery and anxious and mind-racey. And if I drink it after 10am, it affects my sleep-wake cycle. I’ve experimented with my coffee and have found my happy place.

So why tea?

A myriad of reasons. For one thing, there is something relaxing about wrapping my hands around a warm heavy mug in the middle of the day, especially at this time of year. (Particularly when my mug woos at me with inspirational Apache mantras like this one).

                                                                           A Christmas gift from Sister Evolve Well

                                                                           A Christmas gift from Sister Evolve Well

For another thing, it takes away the bone chill I sometimes get from walking around with a semi-wet head rolled up in a bun 90% of the time (read: I have kids).

And sometimes I just feel like I “need” something, so instead of reaching for more peanut butter, a mug of tea sometimes works. 

But the biggest reason for tea lies in its health benefits. Herbs are nature’s medicine cabinet and you can pretty much find one for everything that ails you. Teas are an easy way to incorporate healing herbs into your life.

I’m not saying that herbal teas are necessarily going to solve your problems, but they can certainly help. I know this from research but also from experience. I have felt the effects of certain teas on my mood, digestive patterns, and sleep.

So here’s what I do: I have a hot water dispenser on my countertop at all times. It’s a fixture of my kitchen. I keep it at 208 degrees, which is just under boiling, and the temperature that most of my teas recommend for steeping.

Next to my hot water dispenser, I have my insulated stainless steel thermos. (Is that redundant? Are all thermoses insulated? I digress).

And next to my stainless steel insulated beverage carrier, I have a canister full of my favorite teas.

Everyday, I put 2 teabags of choice into my thermos, fill it with the 208-degree water, cover it with the lid, and leave it for 10-15 minutes. I then drink it for the remainder of the day, refilling the water BUT NOT CHANGING THE TEABAGS, as needed. Why? Because most teas are good for a few steeps, and this allows me to stretch my dollars (some of these teas are expensive!).

Plus, I’m the type of person that might not do something if it has too many steps. Getting out new teabags is sometimes one job too many. (Read: I have kids). I’m not proud of this, but it’s the truth. Reusing teabags simply makes me more likely to drink more tea. But you do you.

So now that I’ve shared my riveting tea ritual with you all, here is a list of my top recommended teas. It’s a beginner’s guide, really. (Well, “beginner” as defined as a coffee-lover-willing-to-accept-tea-as-secondary-with-some-awareness-of-herbal-theories-but-not-full-blown-expert-as-of-yet).

Here’s what I always have in my rotation:

MATCHA GREEN TEA.

Yes, it’s a trend right now, but for good reason. Green tea has long been known for its health benefits, and matcha tea is basically green tea kicked up a notch. According to Wellness Mama:

“Matcha is a special type of powdered green tea that is grown and produced in Japan (in most cases). The green tea leaves are shaded from the sun for the last few weeks of their growth, increasing the chlorophyll content and creating a gorgeous green color. Then, the leaves are carefully ground with stone grinding wheels to produce a fine powder.”

It does have caffeine, so if you are sensitive to caffeine, make sure to drink it in the earlier part of the day. I sometimes use it when I need a boost mid-afternoon if I haven’t slept enough. It gives me more energy but doesn’t keep me awake at night.

But the BEST part (for me) about matcha green tea is that it has natural L-Theanine, which is an amino acid related to reducing stress and inducing calm. It gives you energy without the psycho. As with most things, you will find studies that support and refute the effectiveness of matcha and L-theanine on mood and anxiety, but the amount of evidence for it is large enough for me to accept it as worth a shot.

Other potential benefits: weight loss, brain power, and healthy heartifying.

WARNING: because matcha is made from the whole leaf (versus traditional green tea which removes the leaves), the lead content is higher. The dose is miniscule but for this reason should be avoided if pregnant.

I like this brand.

ORGANIC DANDELION SUPERHERB with VANILLA.  

I’ve been in the nutrition world long enough to know that dandelion is a detoxifying powerhouse. I also know that the liver is the unsung hero of our bodies and is burdened on the daily with all sorts of toxins that it has to clean up and clear out. Detoxifying the liver is one of the most important things you can do for your health, in my opinion. So I help it along by drinking this tea, which has an added bonus of tasting (and smelling) delicious because of the added vanilla. Dandelion is also a digestive aid, for those of you with issues of that variety. It's also good for sluggish gallbladders.

I like this brand.

CHAGA TEA.  

 Or any mushroom tea, really. Over the past year I have been learning about the ridiculously powerful healing properties of mushrooms. Did you know there are 140,000 species of mushrooms, a handful of which are being actively studied for their medicinal properties? Mushrooms are natural immunity-boosters and David Wolfe calls Chaga “King” of the mushrooms. (Other powerhouse mushrooms include Reishi, Cordyceps, Turkey Tail, Lions Mane, and more). They are most studied for their cancer-fighting properties. The one problem with mushrooms? They absorb everything in the soil they grow in, good and bad. For this reason, it is important to consume organically grown mushrooms only.

I like this brand.

TURMERIC & GINGER TEA.

I am not going to lie to you – turmeric alone does not taste good. But! When paired with, say, the dandelion vanilla tea, you can...taste it less. While I admittedly have to cover up the flavor of this one, it’s worth it because turmeric is … well, you’ve heard of turmeric by now. It’s a cute little miracle root. It’s a natural anti-inflammatory, and inflammation is at the root of all disease. So if you’re not cooking with it on a regular basis, try getting it in this way. Turmeric must be paired with black pepper or ginger to be best absorbed, and is best ingested alongside some fat. So go ahead and have your turmeric tea with a side of avocado. You know you want to.

I like this brand. Oh heck, and this one.

CHAMOMILE TEA.

Ahh, the soothing herbal tea. This is a great one to have in the PM hours, particularly if you have problems with stress, anxiety, and/or poor sleep. Why? Because chamomile makes us relaxed and calm, and may lower levels of cortisol (stress hormone), which in turn affects our sleep. Chamomile is also reputably good for: cardiovascular, digestive, oral, skin, and immune health.

I like this brand.

There you have it – my top five (at least for this first blog installment). Be sure to check with your doctor if you have any medical conditions that may contraindicate the use of certain herbs. 

Happy steeping.