Polly put the kettle on, it’s time for herbal tea

Exercise thirty minutes a day. Cut out caffeine. Become a vegan. Instead of biscuits have a sugar free fruit and nut bar instead. And always, always drink eight glasses of water everyday so you need to pee every half an hour.

Isn’t there a way to get a little healthier that just involves sitting down with a nice cup of tea? As you can guess from the title, yes, yes there is. Herbal teas coming up. And you’ve got a lot of choice.

You may have roamed the supermarket aisles and stared in dazed confusion when you got to the tea section. There are a lot of herbal teas. Simple green tea now has distant cousins in the form of ‘green tea with lemon’, ‘green tea with cranberry’, ‘earl grey green tea’ and so many more that you wonder where you should even start.

Well the most important thing is personal taste. Green tea can be fairly bitter and if you don’t like the taste then trying a few of the numerous combinations could be for you. However the flavour is fairly strong, so try to pick a contrasting addition that’s up for the fight. Drinking a cup of ‘green tea and pomegranet’ is mainly going to taste like green tea and the smallest hint of fruit. There are some odd combinations out there, and with a bit of browsing I even found ‘green tea and salted caramel’, which sounds utterly disgusting to me, but I’m sure to some people would be like heaven in a mug.

But why should you even be trying out green tea in the first place? The plain and simple answer, it’s good for you. In fact switching to herbal teas and throwing out your usual breakfast tea and coffee (I know coffee addicts, that sounds horrifying) comes with a whole load of benefits. We’ve heard time and time again how bad caffeine is for us, and I won’t write a long list of reasons why, but the main thing to focus on is that it’s bad for the heart. We only have one of those so it’s best to keep it ticking along nicely. Coffee and tea can keep you hydrated if you’re not a fan of guzzling eight glasses of water a day, but it doesn’t contain as many health benefits as it’s hippy herbal sisters.

So what’s the best herbal tea for you? Here’s a list of the basics with benefits and most importantly, what the general taste is.

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Green tea: Famous all over the world, it’s the celebrity of the herbal tea world, and it’s not surprising why. It has a refreshing, but to some bitter, taste and with it’s small amount of caffine, it can help wake you up without knocking you around the face like a mug of coffee. It contains antioxidants which can help protect cells and molecules from damage. It also contains high levels of the amino acid L-theanine, which is great for calming nerves and raising concentration. There is however a lot of rubbish online saying that green tea can help prevent types of cancer, and lower the risk of Alzheimer’s. There is no solid scientific proof of any of this, so although green tea is a great alternative to coffee, it’s not a miracle drink.

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White tea: White tea is in some ways very similar to green tea in terms of caffeine levels, its antioxidant properties and its level of L-theanine. It does however have a much more delicate flavour and its fruit combinations are a lot tastier. Peach and white tea is my personal favourite. Like green tea it’s not a miracle drink, but it does contain anti-inflammatories so it can help with things like joint pain.

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Rooibos tea (also called redbush): Now if you want something totally caffeine free then this is the tea for you. Rooibos has been described as having a nutty but full bodied flavour to it and yet again there are many combinations you can buy it in if you don’t fancy having it on it’s own. Rooibos and vanilla is a healthy treat if you fancy something sweet. Now, on to the benefits. Rooibos tea is packed full of minerals that are important to our health including zinc, calcium and iron. It also has high levels of flavonoids which are good at helping with stomach cramps, indigestion and diarrhoea (don’t make that gross face, everyone gets it), so if you don’t like taking ibuprofen then this could be a solution.

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Ginger tea: Oooh warming. Ginger tea is caffiene free, can help greatly with upset stomachs, improves blood circulation and is a good source of vitamin C. Lots of people don’t like the taste and there aren’t many ways to mask it, but if you’re a fan of the rich flavour of ginger then you can enjoy the multiple benefits of this tea.

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Chamomile tea: Chamomile is probably best known for it’s calming properties and recent research has been conducted that suggests it may also be good for those with depression and general anxiety disorders. It’s been compared to the calming affect of lavender and as it’s naturally caffiene free it’s a good drink to have before bed to help you doze off. It can also aid in digestion and can help accelerate the healing process of minor wounds. Small warning though folks. If you suffer from asthma then it’s best to avoid this calming tea, as it can exacerbate it and an asthma attack is the last thing anyone wants.

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Fruit teas: I had to group all the fruit teas together, because there are just so many of them! One I’m drinking right now is ‘orange and coconut’ and it tastes divine. Like orange cake in drink form. True Willy Wonka magic. The benefits of fruit tea really depends on the benefit of the fruit itself. They’re caffeine free, they taste great, you can have them hot or cold and they usually contain a high amount of vitamin C. However they do also have the natural sugars from the fruit in, and if you’re diabetic or just trying to cut down on your sugar intake then be sure to tread carefully in the dangerous world of fruit tea.

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Spearmint tea: Now this ones great if you’re feeling a little like the Wolfman, as spearmint tea has an unusual quality to it. Drinking it on a regular basic can help reduce excess body hair. I know, I was surprised to. According to research it can suppress the steroid hormones which lead to unwanted hair growth. It also has many of the other benefits of herbal tea such as antioxidants, but who cares about those when hairy chins could be a thing of the past (unless you’re a woman who doesn’t care about having a hairy chin, in which case rock on lady, you do what you want)

So those are some of the herbal tea choices that you might want to give a go, especially now that autumn is settling itself in and we all fancy something warming to drink. Now excuse me while I finish my cup of ‘green earl grey coconut and jasmine with a dash of lime’ herbal tea. I hear it’s very good for the digestion.

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