Buying and using herbal teas and infusions for wellbeing
As we get into spring many of us are thinking about lightening up, eating fresher foods, getting healthier. In the hectic final few months of the year we need to keep our energy levels up as well, while staying (deep breath) calm. As more of us look for alternatives to alcohol, sugary drinks and even fruit juices, herbal teas and infusions are growing in popularity. Based in Sri Lanka, Dilmah is naturally positioned to offer amazingly fresh infusions that blend natural fruit flavours with exotic spices found in ancient Ayurvedic medicine — infusions such as turmeric, moringa, ginger, cinnamon, chilli and tulsi. In such a hectic world there is always a strong thirst for healthy beverages but the ability for any tea to bring a sense of calm and relaxation into our day is healing in itself. In part two of our tea series, Dilmah’s “Tea Geek” Jon Houldsworth, who frequently lectures on tea gastronomy at New Zealand culinary schools, offers practical tips on buying and using infusions for wellbeing.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A TEA AND INFUSION?
Black, green, oolong or white tea all come from the Camellia sinensis plant, which naturally contains caffeine, along with a wealth of antioxidants. To differentiate, we refer to these only as “tea” and not “infusions”. Some people are looking to avoid caffeine entirely and others seek an alternative for different times of the day, so herbal, fruit and spice infusions are a great option. Generally speaking, however, these are all commonly referred to as tea. Whether it’s classics like peppermint or chamomile or exciting blends with turmeric, chilli, cinnamon or ginger. Most of our infusions also use the soft character of green rooibos or the warmer full-bodied character of red rooibos as their base, also famous for its abundance of antioxidants. Many of these ingredients have benefits of their own, well known in ancient practices like Ayurvedic medicine, practised at the home of Dilmah in Sri Lanka where we source the freshest herbs and spices.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR HERBAL INFUSIONS FOR EVERY MOOD RANGE?
Beyond the well-known health-giving properties associated with our infusions, we recognise that good health is also about the positive moods a humble cup of tea or infusion can bring. It’s about taking the time to enjoy each sip, to lose yourself in the subtle complexity of flavours, to close your eyes and find that mood within. We’ve also made some visual associations on the back panel of each pack, a mood board to spark the imagination. These are not laden with heavy flavouring and sweeteners, they’re not a simple dominant flavour hitting you on the head, you might say they’re emotionally intelligent tea!
SOME OF THE INFUSIONS LIKE REVIVE SOUND DELICIOUS. AS WELL AS BEING BENEFICIAL, COULD THESE BE SEEN AS HEALTHY INDULGENCES TO HELP KEEP YOU AWAY FROM THE COOKIE JAR?
We’ve seen strong evidence to suggest that is a big part of why people are turning to infusions like these. We don’t use artificial sweeteners, so don’t expect a sugary hot chocolate, but the combination of cacao with warm and satisfying spices is addictive in its own way. It’s based on red rooibos — I sometimes make that one double strength and add some warm milk for a hot spice chai. You could strike a balance though: these infusions are great with something a little sweet, like the Liquorice & Strawberry with a little vanilla bean icecream. The Raspberry & Coconut is amazing with a Berry Toffee Pop!
HOW SHOULD INFUSIONS BE BREWED AND SERVED?
Like traditional tea you need to give them at least 3 minutes in boiled water to extract the full flavour. Many of these infusions are great chilled, so just steep them in a half cup of hot water first, then after 3-5 minutes pour them over a glass full of ice. This is a really quick and easy way to have a full-flavoured ice tea with goodness.
HOW LONG WILL HERBAL INFUSIONS LAST IN YOUR PANTRY?
As always once opened, keep infusions and tea in an airtight container, in a cool dry place and they will last for months, if not years. The main thing with storage is to avoid moisture and other aromas from tainting them.
Jon’s holistic tea/infusions kit: What to keep on hand for wellbeing
Infusions for energy
Although fruit and herbal infusions don’t contain the caffeine found in traditional teas, they can be very energising in their own way. Our Tangerine Rose & Grapefruit has a sweet and sour fruity burst with citrus, berry and rose notes for an ideal morning refresher, hot or cold.
For your desk drawer
When you need something with more body and strength to boost your confidence, try the Cinnamon, Turmeric, Ginger & Nutmeg based on warming red rooibos. If you find yourself in an afternoon lull but don’t want to resort to caffeine, reach for Rosehip & Hibiscus for a good energy boost with its natural zesty and tangy notes. Alternatively, the classic Peppermint is perfect for giving you focus.
For late at night
You can’t go past pure chamomile flowers for their famous ability to calm and relax, perfect in the evening when you want to wind down from a busy day. Alternatively, for a healthy sweet treat, try our Strawberry with Liquorice root which acts as a natural sweetener and is great for settling the tummy.
For a mid-week escape, find freedom in a cup of Coconut & Mango or find some balance at the weekend with the exotic tastes of Mango, Ginger & Turmeric with Black Pepper.