Tea is one of the oldest forms of trade on the planet. It is also one of the oldest medicines. Some say it originated in the Shang Dynasty and was used as a medicinal tonic – more than simply a beverage to induce gastric pleasure. There are records of tea drinking in the 3rd century AD, and as early as 1057 BC. Scholars have found references to ‘tea vegetables’ being consumed by emperors.
Not much has changed since then. We still love our tea!
What has changed; however, is how tea is grown, transported, and packaged. Most of us are used to using tea bags since they seem much more convenient than loose-leaf teas. The only problem with this, aside from the fact that many teas are grown using pesticides, which then become concentrated when the tea is brewed, is that in order to put tea in teabags, the plants which comprise the tea must be chopped into very small tea leaves, which more easily become oxidized – losing a large portion of their flavor, phytonutrients, and medicinal value.
Furthermore, The Atlantic reports that the “silky sachet” and “luxurious mesh bags” which hold loose leaf teas (like in brands Tea Forte and Mighty Leaf) are made of plastic. Plastics are full of toxins, which definitely don’t belong in your favorite cup of tea. The best way to make sure you are drinking non-GMO, pesticide-free tea, without added plastics or other toxins, is to make it yourself from fresh organic herbs. Don’t worry; it isn’t as hard as it sounds.
The Real Benefits of DIY Loose-Leaf Tea
Once you’ve had a cup of freshly brewed, organic, homemade, whole-leaf, or small-leaf tea, you’ll never go back to store-bought, teabags. There is simply no comparison. Plus, the benefits of tea are compounded with a DIY batch, and they are many:
- Tea is a known cancer fighter. This is due to the high level of antioxidants concentrated in a single glass, since you are essentially drinking water infused with the utmost nutrition from the leaves, stems, and roots from medicinal plants. Check out the connection between just green tea and cancer here.
- Tea is full of catechins. These can boost endurance, inhibit weight gain, reduce cardiovascular risks, and slow the aging process. Catechins, a form of antioxidant, can also treat neurological impairment, and reduce LDL cholesterol. Even drinkers of ‘English’ tea, who like to add milk to the beverage, can still enjoy high levels of catechin absorption.
- Tea hydrates the body, even when it is caffeinated, and can boost mood.
- Tea helps to fight free radicals, and LDL oxidation. It has a very high ORAC value; this means that your DNA is protected and you are less likely to contract a host of different diseases.
- Different teas offer different healing properties to the body. Both black tea and green tea, for example, can improve vascular functioning and protect the heart, while chamomile tea, made from one of the oldest medicinal herbs in history, can aid sufferers of hay fever, inflammation, muscle spasms, menstrual disorders, insomnia, ulcers, wounds, gastrointestinal disorders, rheumatic pain, and hemorrhoids.
Tips for Making Your Own Tea
So, if you are ready to make your own DIY loose leaf tea, either from a number of herbs or more traditional tea leaves, all you need, aside from your tea leaves, roots, bark, edible flowers, or a combination of all of these, is a mason jar with a lid, some hot water, and a sieve. Forget about tea balls or other methods of infusing your tea. You want your herbs to roam freely in the water, allowing the highest level of concentration of all those great herbs as possible.
Simply pour your hot water (never boiling, as this can over-cook your herbs, again making them less potent) into the mason jar, add your tea leaves, and cover. Allow it to steep for a few minutes, hours or even over night. When you are ready to drink your tea, simply pour the liquid from the mason jar into your tea cup using a strainer or sieve. You can also use a sauce pan if you don’t have any mason jars around the house. Then – find a quiet place to revel in your DIY concoction, and enjoy!
Christina Sarich is a humanitarian and freelance writer helping you to Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World. Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body And Mind Through the Art of Yoga.