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Apple pie tea and other winter warmer recipes

By Rebecca Mullins, RHN

Although we tend to think of herbal teas primarily as preventative medicinals (and they are), let’s not underestimate their wonderful tastes and aromas, which are warming and uplifting to our spirits. Keep a variety of high-quality herbs on hand, to sip throughout your long day, or to help you unwind in the evening.

Purchasing herbs in the winter

If you haven’t already harvested your own herbs, next best is to purchase loose bulk herbs. Look for herb leaves and roots that are as whole as possible, then cut as needed for optimum freshness. High-quality herbs should look, smell and taste almost like they do when picked fresh. The herb should retain close to its original colour – if you are unsure, ask for help from knowledgeable staff, or consult a reliable book (with photos) written by an herbalist. Always smell your herbs before purchasing. They should have their trademark distinctive strong fresh smells. Herbs should also taste fresh, strong, vital and distinctive.

Purchase one of the following: a stainless steel tea ball, unbleached cotton tea sacs, or a teapot with an infuser in which to steep your herbs.  Most commercial tea bags are bleached, and are usually sealed with polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a known carcinogen. (If you prefer the convenience of tea bags, look for unbleached ones that are stapled shut.)  Also, always read labels – expensively packaged herbal teas often contain artificial flavours and colours. Secondly, the herbs used in tea bags are often of inferior quality, because they have been finely shredded to fit the bag. Herbs prepared in this way lose their medicinal and nutritional properties quickly from exposure to air and heat.

Whenever possible, choose herbs that are certified organic.  By doing so, you are also supporting farmers who practice sustainable, chemical-free and pesticide-free farming techniques.  Organic herbs support our bodies’ health, and the health of our planet.  

Simple winter warmer herbal and other teas

Winter savory

  • 4 cups water
  • 2 rounded teaspoons dried winter savory
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 cloves
  • Put dried winter savory directly into pot of boiling water, then add cinnamon stick and cloves.  Boil together for exactly 3 minutes, then strain.

Chamomile-mint soother

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger root, minced
  • 3 tablespoons chamomile tea
  • 1 tablespoon dried mint
  • Honey to taste (optional)
  • Lemon to taste (optional)
  • In large saucepan, bring water and ginger to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.  Add chamomile and mint.  Steep covered for 10 minutes, then strain.  (Add honey and/or lemon to taste.)

Apple pie tea, just for fun!

  • 1 cup water
  • ¾ teaspoon dried ground apple
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

For tea that tastes surprisingly like apple pie, put apple and cinnamon in tea ball or infuser. Not necessary to steep – can drink immediately. (Dried apples can be ground into a fine powder very quickly in a coffee grinder.)

Lemon thyme lift

  • honey to taste (optional)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon dried lemon-thyme leaves

For tea with a spicy lemon taste, put a teaspoon of dried lemon-thyme in a tea ball or infuser.  Steep in boiled water for 5 minutes.  (Add honey to taste.)  Relax and enjoy.

Sage tea

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • Honey to taste (optional)
  • Lemon (optional)

Sage has a very strong, pungent taste.  Put a teaspoon of sage in tea ball or infuser.  Steep in boiled water for at least 15 to 30 minutes. (Add honey and/or lemon to taste.)  One tea ball of sage will make several cups of tea.

Fresh ginger root tea

  • 4 cups water
  • 2-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
  • Honey to taste (optional)
  • Lemon (optional)

Use fresh ginger root (found in the grocery store) and gently simmer in pot for five to 10 minutes, then strain.  (Add honey and/or lemon to taste.)  Ginger root tea’s warming effects tend to last a long time.

Rebecca Mullins is a B.C.-based registered holistic nutritionist.

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