When we’re not feeling well, we turn to tea—and for good reason, too. Warm, comforting, and aromatic, tea has a healing vibe before we’ve even taken a sip. But herbal teas are also healing in a more literal sense, offering research-backed relief for ailments from joint pain to constipation, headaches to the flu.
Herbal teas help improve your health without the stimulating effects of caffeine, which can get in the way of the rest your body needs when you’re ill. You can put herbal tea to work for you by knowing what to look for, either in the tea aisle at the grocery store or through an online purveyor of organic dried herbs.
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How To Brew Your Herbal Tea
“If you are creating your own herbal tea blend, more is not necessarily more,” says Emily Kanter, the second-generation co-owner of Cambridge Naturals, a wellness and herbal shop in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “Including 16 herbs in a tea infusion is not necessarily better than using three really powerful herbs,” she advises. Instead, choose a few proven, well-researched herbs, steep, sip, and mend.
Steeping times can vary according to different herbs as well as your taste. Loose herbs can be placed directly in boiling water (strain before drinking), or you can fill a tea ball infuser. Most blends can steep for between five and 15 minutes; be sure to squeeze the tea bag into your cup before discarding to ensure every healing bit gets in. Or make a potent tea infusion by steeping herbs (or a few tea bags) for 20 minutes or up to two hours, re-heating and sipping throughout the day.
Don’t feel like you have to drink gallons of the stuff to experience its effects, though. “Three to five cups a day is a good maximum to set,” says Kanter, “with plenty of pure, clean, filtered water to sip in between.”
Now, here’s what to drink depending on what ails you: