5 Herbs that Help Kick that Cold or Flu to the Curb

It’s the end of September and the cold is coming if it hasn’t arrived where you live yet (in the northern hemisphere, of course). Snow is already falling in the higher altitudes and with damp cold, comes the sniffles, the flu, runny noses etc. You know what I’m talking about.

I already got hit with a sore throat. My weapon of choice: Echinacea.

But there are so many other herbs that can help with coughs, flu, fevers, congestion and phlegmy respiratory tracts that I took the liberty to compile a quick list of common-ish herbs that can help you this season!

ECHINACEA

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Otherwise known as a purple coneflower, Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) is a powerhouse for helping cure a common cold. (I’ve actually wrote about my experience with echinacea in the beginning of the year when I got a cold on New Year’s Day. ) The root and aerials of this plant is mainly used in modern herbal medicine and is a great antibiotic, immune stimulant, anti-allergenic and lymphatic tonic. One could also take Echinacea capsules, just double and triple check that it’s high quality and organic. However, the taste of the tea is quite nice, and I’d recommend that! Echinacea relieves a sore throat, cold and influenza among other uses.

HYSSOP

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A summer flowering plant, Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) is commonly known as a cleansing type of plant. It’s actually mentioned in the Bible over a dozen times. (“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” Psalm 51:7) Both the leaves and the flowers are used for cold remedies in syrups, teas, tinctures and essential oils. Hyssop is a natural expectorant, phlegm reducer, antiviral and promotes sweating among other benefits. Drink this tea hot at the onset of a cold/flu.

GINGER

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A wonderfully spicy herb, ginger (Zingiber officinalis) has been used for centuries in Asia to dispel chills among many other versatile uses (like a hangover for example). Ginger promotes circulation, sweating, is an expectorant, relieves nausea and vomiting, and is antiseptic. Either drink ginger tea made from the dried root or take a couple of slices and steep for 10 minutes in boiled water. Side note: if you don’t like the bite from a hot cup of ginger tea, try cold-brewing it instead and it goes down much smoother.

ELDER

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Described as a “complete medical chest,” these powerful flowers cure excessive phlegm and mucus. The elder flower (Sambucus nigra)is native to Europe and is actually surrounded by a wealth of folklore. The flowers are powerful in stimulating circulation, a great expectorant, promotes sweating and is anti-inflammatory.  Other parts of the plant, like the berries or bark, are used for other benefits but the flowers are mainly used for fevers, colds, coughs and flu. A hot cup of elderflower tea clears away the respiratory tract and an elder syrup is a great remedy for congestion. It pairs well with lemon and raspberry.

PEPPERMINT

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Who doesn’t love a cuppa peppermint tea whether one is sick or not! One of the most common herbal teas, Peppermint tea a cooling a soothing herb that treats fevers, congestions and even travel sickness. Much like ginger, peppermint prevents vomiting, nausea promotes sweating (but is internally cooling), and an analgesic. Another side benefit to peppermint is that it gives a gentle boost of alertness and is very uplifting. Read more about non-cold-related benefits of peppermint.
Bonus…if you’re brave:

GARLIC JUICE.

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It is great little warrior for infections but I don’t have the courage to brave this one yet!

I hope that as we enter the cold seasons, that you keep these brave little herbs in the back of your minds and tea cupboards for when the sniffles come on, you’re prepared to attack it head on!

Keep on steeping, tea lovers!

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Sip a Cuppa with Me at the Plentea Tea Bar

Last month, I checked Toronto off my bucketlist. We had a weekend getaway to visit Niagara Falls, wineries and spend the day in that wonderful city. While we were there, we LITERALLY stumbled across a surprising gem of a place on Queen Street West called Plentea Tea Bar in Parkdale, Toronto.

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Plentea tea bar is located in the Parkdale neighborhood of Toronto.

Plentea’s mission is to evolve the culture of tea, upgrading the tea bag into a multi-sensory experience with an identity.

Their specialty: tea lattes.

But it’s not what you think. They don’t boil up a tea bag tea and throw some milk in it and call it a day. They steep your own personalized tea blend IN the milk. You heard me, personalized blend in the milk. Plentea has wall of individual herbs and spices and you can choose what and how much goes into your own tea blend.

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A signature tea latte being poured straight from the steep.

The staff will dispense fresh herbs and spices from their tea wall, then, depending on what you’ve ordered, they’ll grind the spices in a pestle and mortar, or fill a espresso brewing filter with your blend and pressurize hot water through the tea blend (just like making an espresso but not with ground coffee beans), or steep it in their signature milk method.

Even if you find this approach to tea a little intimidating, there is a vast menu you can choose from if you’re lacking in gumption. These recipes are inspired by family tradition, old culture, and a drive for a technicolor experience.

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This iced tea was an off-the-menu recipe that they suggested for me. It’s called a Sunny Cider: apple cider, ginger and hibiscus. Incredibly refreshing for such a warm day in Toronto.

Senses will be heightened, tea lattes will be drunk, and tea drinkers will be indulged at this unique tea bar, Plentea.

If you’re within diving distance (or even if you’re not), go to Plentea. You’ll not be disappointed!

Keep on steeping, tea lovers!

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Herbal Tea Feature | Ginger

Can we create a judge-free bubble for a minute? I had a couple too many glasses of wine to drink the other night and I definitely had a hangover the next morning. Mind you, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually done that and I’m not too terribly experienced in hangover remedies. But when you need to get up and get going, you find a solution right?

Off I went to my tea cupboard to see if I had anything that said “hangover cure tea.” I knew that ginger soothed tummy aches and reduces nausea but I’ve never heard of ginger being a hangover cure tea. Common sense told me that it may work so off I go to boil up a kettle.

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I’m telling you, after I drank that spicy cuppa, I was able to get on my feet! Not in a I’m-still-dragging-my-feet way. I mean, in a bounce-in-my-step, skin-a-glowing, revitalizing way! Can anybody relate???

So I wanted to know more of the ways I could use ginger in everyday life and this is what I found:

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HISTORY

Not to be confused with “wild ginger” from North America, ginger is native to the tropical parts of Asia and a popular ingredient in Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai and other asian cuisines. Ginger traveled with the Spaniards into the New World and now is extensively grown in the West Indies.

TASTE

pungent, spicy, warming, clean, juicy.

BENEFITS
increases blood flow and circulation
warming sensation, good for healing the body from colds
lowers cholesterol
prevents blood clotting
stops nausea, morning sickness
increases metabolism
stomach soother
eases sore throats, fights off cold and flu
improves and clears the respiratory system
antiseptic agent for digestive, urinary and respiratory systems
helps treat arthritis and joint pain

cures hangovers!

USES
the benefits of the ginger plant comes from the root in either its raw natural form, juice, or powder
drink ginger tea to ease motion sickness during travel, to reduce nausea or morning sickness during pregnancy, to relieve upset stomach discomfort, to soothe menstrual cramps

Try ginger cookies or candy!

STEEPING TEA
typically needs to be slightly sweetened with honey and/or lemon

tip: blend it with peppermint. heat and spice of the ginger is balanced by the cooling peppermint

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Now I’m finally coming around to drinking ginger tea for the fun of it, and not strictly in a medicinal way. Mind you, my sweet tooth has the best of me, so I sweeten my ginger tea with honey and lemon.

Obviously, I’m not a doctor, just a tea aficionado. This blog is a compilation of the information I found as I researched this herb. Please check with a medical professional before use.

I hope you got a bit of a laugh and enjoyed this herbal feature on ginger!

Keep on steeping,
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Why You Should Be Cold-Brewing Your Herbal Tea

I’m having a love-hate relationship with tea right now. I adore my cuppa but my body isn’t liking the heat. I’m inclined to make a big pitcher of iced tea instead but my teas have been tasting a bit on the bitter side.

Off to google I go!

So I’ve heard of cold brew coffee before, but cold-brewed tea? not so much. I didn’t know it was a thing!

So I thought I’d take you through my journey with cold-brew teas if you haven’t tried it yet!

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What is cold-brewing or cold-steeping?

“brewing” or “steeping” teas in cold water and extracting its flavors over a longer period of time.

Why you should be cold-brewing/steeping your teas:
  • easier to steep than hot brews (less risk of oversteeping)
  • less bitter and astringent taste (due to less tannins being released)
  • naturally sweeter
  • you still get all of the antioxidants
  • proportions for steeping not as critical
  • perfect for spring/summer
  • idiot-proof!

You can cold-brew almost any kind of tea! Black, green, white, oolong, etc. and especially herbal teas! With herbal teas, you can even use fresh herbs…just give it a quick muddle to extract more flavor.

How to cold-brew or cold-steep your teas
  1. Add one spoonful of looseleaf tea or one teabag for every cup of tea into a pitcher or mason jar
  2. fill pitcher or mason jar to the top with cold, filtered water
  3. pop it into the fridge overnight
  4. strain looseleaf tea or teabags
  5. pour over ice or a to-go container
  6. voilá!fill with water Collage
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Tip: the longer you leave it in the fridge steeping, the more flavor, antioxidants and color it extracts. Try leaving it in for a minimum of an hour or two versus overnight. See which one suits your fancy!

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My cold-brews sat in the fridge for 11 hours.

 

The only way you can screw up a cold-brew is if you forget it in the fridge! #coldbrewfordays #NOT

I loved all of the cold-brewed teas that I made, except the Mint. I’m a little underwhelmed that it didn’t infuse more like the loose leaf teas. I’m guessing that because it’s a fresh herb, that it needs to steep for longer.

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Well, tea lovers, I hope you give cold-brew a go and let me know how it goes!

Keep on steeping,

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Tea Recipe | Mint Julep with a Twist

It’s summer people! Whether we like it or not!

Living in Florida has its perks: Disney, beaches, Miami…you name it! But the one thing you gotta know is…..FLORIDA IS HOT. Really hot. Starting early March through almost Christmas.

So we Floridians like to think of new ways to keep cool during the summer and I got the idea to make a tea-inspired mint julep.

with Rooibos.

oh yeah!

rooibos mint julep

Just as nutty, caramel-y and creamy as bourbon, Rooibos is a great alternative when making a lovely chilled glass of mint julep!

How to make Rooibos Mint Julep
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Muddle mint with one spoonful of sugar. Top the glass with ice. Pour freshly steeped Rooibos tea over the ice.

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Add a sprig of mint as garnish. Enjoy!

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You may notice that this drink doesn’t have alcohol. But who’s stopping you?! Go ahead, add a splash or two of your favorite bourbon to the rooibos!

Keep on steeping, my fellow tea lovers!

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