Spice It Up With Tea!

Besides spices and herbs, my other great passion is tea!Iced Tea and Spices

I love tea, hot or iced. It is my drink of choice and just recently, I have been discovering the joys of herbal blends, both hot and cold. I find them comforting and soothing.  You can use teas for anytime of day for what ever your mood to make everything right with the world! You can even use tea to alleviate many health symptoms like sore throat, bloating and congestion.

Spices and tea go together and give you health and deliciousness all in one fell swoop!

Studies show if you drink tea regularly, you may reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s and diabetes, plus have healthier teeth and gums and stronger bones.

How? Tea is rich in a class of antioxidants called flavonoids.
“True teas,” such as black, green, oolong and white teas, come from the leaves of the tea plant, Camellia sinensis. What we call herbal teas, such as chamomile, mint and rooibos, are actually infusions or tisanes .

The differences in “true” teas result from how the tea plant’s leaves are processed.

Loose Leaf TeaBlack teas are oxidized (exposed to oxygen) a few hours before rolling and drying, Which gives them their deep color. On the other hand,  white teas and green teas are simply steamed, rolled and dried. Oolong tea is sort of a hybrid, where their leaves are only partially oxidized before drying. This  gives oolong teas a lighter color than black teas, giving them a bolder flavor than white or green tea. You can steep oolong tea leaves a few times, thus making them more affordable to some if you like to have a special tea, but don’t like the cost. Of course, the flavor changes with each additional brewing.

Regardless of which tea you like, the flavor is always better and you get more healthy flavonoids by drinking it freshly brewed. The bottled tea you can buy for convenience has very little of the “good stuff” left. Keep a batch of cold tea in your refrigerator for a quick refresher anytime!
Add a little lemon juice or other citrus fruit to your iced tea when  you put it in the fridge, the citric acid and vitamin C help preserve the flavonoids.

Tea varieties are endless.

You can always buy ready made teas of every flavor, in your grocery store. But if you are more adventurous, try making your own from fresh or dried spices. Here are a few of my favorites to get you started.

Ginger Turmeric Root Tea

Fresh Turmeric Root and ginger simmered with black pepper to make a soothing healing turmeric tonic. Add sweetener of choice.
Makes 2
Ingredients

2 1/2 cups water

1 inch fresh turmeric root peeled and thinly sliced

1 inch ginger root thinly slices sliced

1 tsp peppercorn, use more if you like it spicy!

4-5 fresh or dry stevia leaves (optional) or maple syrup or sugar to taste (add after straining)

Optional add ins:

Cinnamon Stick or ground cinnamon

slices of fresh lemon

a few leaves of Thai Basil

My personal favorite is turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, stevia.

Instructions
    1. Add all the ingredients to a saucepan and bring to a simmering boil over medium low heat. Add in the optional ingredients if using. Continue to simmer for 6 to 8 minutes. Add in sweet if needed. Strain and serve. Add some lemon slices if needed.
    2. Or chill and serve over ice cubes as iced tea.

Variations:
Add some caffeine if you like, steep with a a tsp of loose green or black tea, or throw in a couple of tea bags.

Need an afternoon, pick me up? Make this tea on your Sunday “cooking for the week game”, and it’ll be there for you when you need a lift!

Makes 4-5 servings depending on the size of your mug.

Chai Tea

Chai has been one of my favorite afternoon pick-me-ups of all time. This spicy, blend will give you the energy you need to make it through any long afternoon! Try it iced in the summer for a refreshing taste of the ancient spice route!

Chai tea

7 c. water

2 bay leaves

¼ tsp. Black peppercorns

1 stick cinnamon

12 cloves

6 green cardamom pods, crushed

1 tbsp. Fennel or anise seed

3-5 slices fresh ginger

Bring to a boil, simmer 5 minutes, (partially covered,) steep 10 minutes.

Bring back to boil, add:

2 tbsp. Black tea

Steep 5 minutes.

Add:

6 tbsp. Honey or brown sugar, or sweetener of choice

1 c. milk

Good hot or over ice, (this keeps for a few days in the fridge, I don’t add the milk if I’m not going to drink all of it right away. Reheat and then add the milk.

Yum!

Moroccan Mint Tea

Morocco is one of the largest tea importers in the world today, largely due to their Mint Tea. This tea is served both for culture and hospitality reasons, besides being totally delicious! It is made and served as a celebration, akin to the Japanese Tea Ceremony.

The main ingredient, besides mint is loose leaf Gunpowder green tea. This tea is hand rolled into pellets which open up when rehydrated and are quite impressive! It’s worth finding if you like this tea.

You don’t have to go to this extent, unless of course, you want to. Try this easy recipe.moroccan mint tea

Makes 4 cups.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups hot water
  • 4 teaspoons loose leaf gunpowder green tea
  • Handful fresh mint leaves, spearmint is traditional
  • Sugar (optional)

Instructions

  1. Steep tea in hot water for 3-4 minutes.
  2. Strain out tea and add in a handful of fresh mint and steep for 2 more minutes.
  3. Pour tea into mugs and garnish with a sprig of mint. Sweeten to taste.
  4. Try making iced mint tea, just add sweetener while hot, strain, and refrigerate until cold. Serve over ice with a spring of mint for garnish.

Bedtime Peppermint Camomile TeaChamomile Tea

Try this non caffeinated herbal tea to sip on before you go to bed.

Ingredients

1 teaspoon dried peppermint or 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh peppermint

1 tsp. camomile flowers, or dry buds, (more easily available)

1 cup boiling water

Directions

Place herbs in infuser and place in cup. Add boiling water, let steep 5 minutes. Sip slowly and breath in the minty vapors to clear your sinuses. Great for winter, when the heating dries out your nose!

Sage TeaSage Tea

“Fresh sage is an aromatic herb perfect for making flavorful caffeine-free tea. Herbalists say sage tea may even settle upset stomachs and soothe sore throats. Plus, the honey in this tea recipe can also help calm a cough.”

Ingredients

10 medium fresh sage leaves

1 cup boiling water

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon honey

Directions

Steep sage leaves in boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove the sage leaves and stir in lemon juice and honey.

Apple Cider Vinegar SipperApple Cider Vinegar

All the new rage, “ACV” drinks are popping up all over the stores! Making your own is so easy and healthier by far!
The acetic acid may help you eat less. Green tea has caffeine and antioxidants, and ginger might help you burn  calories.
Ingredients
1 cup brewed green tea, chilled
1 tablespoon raw cider vinegar
1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
Lemon wedge (optional)

Directions

1. Stir tea, vinegar, syrup and ginger in a medium glass. Add a squeeze of lemon, if desired.

Try these refreshing, healthy sippers next time you need a pick-me-up or to relax. Tea might just become your drink of choice also!

Please let me know how you like these recipes, and any suggestions are always appreciated. Thanks!

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