Naturopath Maya Muckalt on the goodness of tea.

iced herbal tea

Tea versus coffee

Coffee is not without its benefits, and has been shown to increase alertness and ability to concentrate, along with containing antioxidants. However, caffeine can also cause some undesirable affects in some people, such as anxiety, tremors, heart palpitations and insomnia.

Caffeine briefly puts your nervous system into fight or flight mode. This can leave you with that ‘tired and wired’ feeling.

Herbal teas contain less caffeine and can give you a natural lift without that jittery feeling. They can be refreshing, energising or calming, depending on the herb. Green tea contains some caffeine, but it is also rich in an amino acid called theanine, which promotes a calm and focused feeling, making it a perfect beverage to drink before or after a workout.

What should you look for when selecting herbal teas?

Look for organic teas, as this means they are grown without pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilisers, which can potentially be detrimental to health and the environment. Organic tea agriculture relies on biodiversity and ecological processes, with an interest in sustaining the health of soils, the ecosystem and people.

Refreshing summer tea ideas

1. Iced tea
Brew your loose leaf tea and let it infuse in almost boiling water for 5-7 minutes to get maximum flavour, covering the top of the mug/ teapot to make sure the oils don’t escape. Pour into a jug and add ice, chopped fruit, fresh mint and some sparkling mineral water and you’re good to go!

2. Tea popsicles

For a delicious icy treat, brew your tea at double strength, infuse, then strain, then add ingredients like honey (if you want extra sweetener), lemon juice, fresh mint or pureed berries. Stir very well, pour into popsicle moulds and place in the freezer.

3. Tea smoothies

Give your morning smoothie an antioxidant boost by adding cold brewed tea instead of your usual milk variety or coconut water. Banana, frozen berries, spinach and some brewed herbal tea is a winning combination!

“My favourite tea varieties to relax and unwind are without a doubt lemon balm, chamomile and passionflower.”

Favourite tea varieties to relax and unwind?

• Lemon balm (botanical name: Melissa officinalis) is my favourite herb of all time. It is beautifully relaxing and has traditionally been used to treat insomnia and anxiety and help calm a racing mind.

• Chamomile has gentle sedative qualities and can help soothe an upset stomach.

• Passionflower has a calming effect and can help promote restful sleep.

The Organic Trainer’s ‘Good sleep tea’ contains these three incredible herbs, which work together in harmony.

Best teas to stimulate and energise?

For that natural energy lift, teas such as sencha green tea and siberian ginseng root are ideal. As mentioned, green tea contains some caffeine, but it also promotes a sense of calm, leaving you feeling relaxed, awake and focused.

Peppermint tea is a great all-rounder and can help to refresh the senses but also relax the body, which can in turn help relieve stress. Ginger and turmeric have anti-inflammatory properties and are a great option after a workout to help soothe tired muscles.

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