There I was, sick in the tropics, no hospital within several hours of travel, and the only shops within walking distance are run out of the fronts of residencies; these little shops, or tindahans, often carry little more than snacks, soda, and some local produce. A good Filipino friend of mine was kind enough to pick leaves from a variety of fruit trees including mango and guava, and a hand full of other odd plants. His mother taught him to use leaves from five different trees or plants. I boiled the leaves leaching them of color and hopefully vitamins and minerals, added a little sugar to the strong bitter substance and drank. Making tea from locally obtainable plants is literally that simple.
Growing up with European parents who did not drink coffee meant that we drink large amounts of tea, primarily herbal. To date I still love the relaxing effect of a nice mug of tea before bed; I find it relaxing, and although I have no proof, I’ve attributed it to my general good health and strong immune system.
So what is happening to the variety of ground up ingredients when you steep the small tea bag? If you steam vegetables you will know that it is healthier than boiling because boiling the vegetables leaches the vitamins and minerals into the water where they generally end up down the drain. In the case of tea we are extracting the goods by using heated water as a means of leaching, and then disregarding the waste solids.
For those interested I pulled the term for leach from freedictionayr.com:
v. leached, leach•ing, leach•es
1. To remove soluble or other constituents from by the action of a percolating liquid.
2. To empty; drain: “a world leached of pleasure, voided of meaning” (Marilynne Robinson).
To be dissolved or passed out by a percolating liquid.
1. The act or process of leaching.
2. A porous, perforated, or sievelike vessel that holds material to be leached.
3. The substance through which a liquid is leached.
In the case of herbal teas the leaves or peals of fruits and herbs are utilized for their rich internal content and flavor. In some fruits and vegetables the major amount of nutrients are contained in the skin. But it is an incorrect blanket statement to assume that this is the case with all fruit baring plants. As opposed to macronutrients fount in the meat of most plants, the skins are often limited to micronutrients, the substances that support specific metabolic functions. These are vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. You can’t survive without certain micronutrients, and others while not essential are very healthy (like antioxidants).
From mindbodygreen.com I pulled this information that explains homemade tea far better than I could.
Making your own tea is surprisingly simple – it’s like making a soup, really. You just take a whole bunch of ingredients, chop them up, throw it all into a boiling pot of water for five to ten minutes, then strain the flavored water into your favorite mug.
The only thing you need to figure out is what ingredients you need. So based on my research, here are some of the most helpful tea ingredients (all found in your local health food store) to combat any ailments you might experience.
1. Ginger – Anti-viral. Containing nearly a dozen antiviral compounds, it is also pain-relieving, antiseptic, and antioxidant. Helps prevent and treats colds, sore throats, and inflamation of mucus membranes. It also reduces pain and fever and has a mild sedative effect that encourages rest.
2. Echinacea (leaves and flower petals) – Anti-bacterial. Increases levels of properdin, a chemical that activates part of the immune system responsible for increasing defence mechanisms against viral and bacterial attacks.
3. Garlic – Anti-bacterial, anti-fungal. Contains several helpful immune-boosting compounds, including allicin, a potent, natural antibiotic. Best used raw.
4. Goldenseal – Anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal. It is both antiseptic and immune stimulating, increasing blood supply to the spleen. The chemical berberine in goldenseal activates white blood cells that destruct bacteria, fungi, viruses, and tumour cells.
5. Sage – Antiseptic, anti-bacterial. Sooths sore throats, promotes good digestion, and helps ease menstrual cramps.
6. Peppermint – It is not only a painkiller for headaches and reduces fevers by inducing sweating and cooling of the body, but it helps bring up mucus and other material from the lungs, bronchi, and trachea during bronchitis, colds, and the flu.
7. Blackberry (leaves or fruit) – The fruit is very rich in vitamin C, and the leaves can be used in teas.
8. Cinnamon – Anti-bacterial, antiviral, antifungal. Helps stop vomiting and relieve nausea, and increases restricted blood flow.
9. Clove – Antiviral, antifungal, antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory. Helps fight infection and ease pain.
10. Lemon – Another rich source of vitamin C, squeeze some into your tea.
11. Chamomile – Anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory. Natural sedative.
12. Lemongrass – Antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-parasitic, antifungal. Relieves digestive ailments and fluid retention, improves blood circulation, and dilates blood vessels.
13. Oregano – A general tonic and immune booster.
14. Rosemary – Antibacterial, antiseptic, antiphrastic, antifungal. Good for the nerves and has a stimulating effect.
15. Turmeric – Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and anticancer. It is a blood purifier, and helps lower blood sugar levels.
For additional information and if you want a superb book for general sustainable living and self-sufficiency I recommend you purchase Back to Basics. While reading in this book I was surprised to learn that 40 percent of our pharmaceuticals are still obtained from natural resources. From this book and many other sources you can obtain a list of recommended teas for different ailments. Growing up we grew chamomile in our herm garden and picked wild hiprose for teas; both which having amazing nutritional benefits. Ultimately most leaves from edible plants can be turned into a tea and will pull at least some beneficial micronutrients from the leaves.
Do you have a good blend you’d like to share, please post it.