So to continue the tradition here, I’d like to introduce you to each type of tea that I got, then bore you a bit with their respective health benefits1:
Lotus leaf tea (荷叶茶)
I picked this up at a supermarket while in China, as I was intrigued by the “Woman Flower” label on the packaging. I thought that if this is one of those things that are especially good for women, it must have some kind of hormonal-balancing effects – something my nervous system is close to incapable of doing.
I despised the taste at first, just because I was drinking it before eating anything. But as time goes by, I grew to love the sheer bitterness of it, although it’s still not as bitter as the adaptogenic jiaogulan (绞股蓝), which I’ve been drinking regularly since the beginning of the year to treat my sleeping difficulties.
According to TCM traditions, this aquatic herb is highly effective for controlling bleeding and overall invigorating the blood (increases coronary blood flow and regulating blood pressure) due to its wide variety of alkaloids. As a tonic, it keeps the liver, spleen, heart, lungs, and gall bladder healthy, all of which are largely contributed by the leaf’s sedative (calming) and all-around digestive (both laxative and diuretic) effects. The calming and cooling bitter herb is also said to reduce summer heat as well as alleviating restlessness and insomnia, so yes, it’s the perfect tea for the easily worn and stressed out woman like me.
Teas from Traditional Medicinals®
I fell in love at first taste with the brand when I tasted the green tea lemongrass concoction. Now that I stumbled upon the them again while shopping at OG, I’ve chosen these 2 to store in my cabinet:
- EveryDay Detox. I went for this one after learning that it’s formulated based on TCM. I ended up loving it both during the day and right before I sleep, because it has such a unique taste unlike any other herbal infusions I’ve tried before. It’s spicy-sweet and sour at first, then it slowly becomes slightly more bittersweet and then really astringent to taste. After sipping a cup, certain parts of my body slowly becomes less tense than I usually am, particularly around my hands, neck, shoulders, and hips. This concoction is targeted to tonify the liver, the human body’s main organ responsible for the detoxification process. Ingredients included are roasted chicory root, dandelion root (my plant personality [see below]), dried five flavor berries, dried lychee fruit, and a proprietary blend of licorice, ginger, star anise, and kukicha twig – all of which are organic.
- Female Toner. This one I picked up as a supplemental care for regulating my menstrual cycle. As some of you already know, I’ve got a history of a super irregular period, which can be traced back from all of 2010 and the first quarter of 2011, when during that year and a half, I haven’t been having my period at all. A gynecologist in Frisco prescribed me with medroxyprogesterone pills, which made me bleed around 3 days after that, but for the following months after, my period went absent again. So I went to a hospital in Singapore at the end of May 2011, and the gynecologist there simply said I have to reduce the stress in my lifestyle no matter what. So I listened, became quite a cardio queen, and lo and behold – my period started to become regular again when I decided not to take life so seriously.
Since then I’ve been incorporating loads of TCM practices to balance and strengthen my energy levels, including the aforementioned jiaogulan, wuji baifeng, wild ginseng teas, cordyceps pills, gingko biloba, licorice roots, and snow fungus soups, just to name a few. I love that Traditional Medicinals has a special section wholly dedicated for women’s health, and no doubt among the 10 blends, this one’s captured my attention the most. The Female Toner contains raspberry leaves, licorice root, strawberry leaves, stinging nettle leaves, Angelica root, blessed thistle, cramp bark, and a proprietary blend of spearmint leaf, rose hip, lemon verbena leaf, lemongrass leaf, ginger, and chamomile flower. Out of all the things I’m ingesting to manage my anxiety levels, this is a mild one that’s quickly becoming my favorite.
P.S. I encourage you to unleash your inner herb nerd and take this Plant Personality Quiz. It helps you find out the blend of herbs that you need the most, as not every herb is right for you:
Rooibos tea (博士茶）from Eu Yan Sang
This is the first time I’m sipping rooibos regularly, and so far, it’s so mild that it’s hard to believe there are so much antioxidants packed in this African tisane. The red tea is free of caffeine, so you don’t get the slight jolt of energy you get with oxidized teas. Taste-wise, I think it’s okay. I like that it’s not as tannic as the Camellia sinensis brews (black, green, white), but it gets even tastier when you give it a lemon squeeze.
Traditionally, rooibos been used to treat colic in babies, allergies, and asthma. Due to its increasing popularity in the western world, recent research has looked deeper into these needly leaves to find that it offers a wealth of health benefits, such as reducing cholesterol, boosting the immune system, better circulation, improving the blood lipid profile, prevents premature aging, and guarding against degenerative damage of brain cells and nerve tissues. Added to all that are a host of skin-deep benefits, as studies also show rooibos can help soothe acne, psoriasis, and eczema. Learn more on rooibos here.
Tartary buckwheat tea (苦荞茶)
I super loveee the taste of these little kernels. I was first introduced to this unique aroma when my whole family went to South Korea back in 2002, and it’s only when I was in China last July that I found out buckwheat tea originated from China. Other than its delish grainy-nutty flavor, it’s been widely popular throughout Japan (known as soba-cha there) and Korea for many reasons: It’s caffeine-free, it’s got several B-vitamins (lowers blood pressure, reduces cholesterol), it’s high in antioxidants, particularly rutin (helps improve blood flow, strengthens capillary walls, eases metabolic syndromes, prevents constipation), and said to reduce the accumulation of body fat.
For women with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), research has also shown promising results for its efficacy in treatments, namely due to buckwheat’s hypoglycemic effects. So really, I think this is good news for anyone who’s watching their insulin levels, because nobody really knows what exactly causes PCOS, although the suspecting culprits are excessive insulin, inflammation, hereditary and/or abnormal development while you’re a fetus, according to Mayo Clinic.
Longjing tea (龙井茶)
Longjing tea is essentially the pride of China’s tea culture due to its high quality. In 1959, the Agricultural Department of China secured this pan-roasted variety of green tea at the #1 spot for the list of 10 Great Chinese Teas, thus making it famous worldwide ever since. Non-Chinese speakers refer to this Xihu-originated (西湖) nirvana as the “Dragon Well Tea”, and like most other fine Chinese teas, they pack even more catechins (antioxidants) than most other green teas produced elsewhere.
I first fell in love with Longjing when my mom brewed me a small cup of it a couple of years ago. It was just as bitter as the average green tea, except that it’s much denser and more fragrant (with a hint of baked mung beans). You can sense the rich bouquet of pungent undertones as you sip it after meals, and I find it really healing, especially whenever I get that bloated feeling after a full meal. Because it’s relatively strong, it’s often not recommended to drink longjing on an empty stomach. Otherwise you’ll feel nauseous all day.
While in Singapore, I went back to this store and was happy to bring back these 3 blends home:
Tired minds are familiar with this herb, as it smells soooooo good and relieves that dizzy feeling after a long day. You don’t even have to steep these blossoms in boiling water to drink to achieve the “ahhh” effect, you just have to open the package and inhale, and slowly exhale. But if you want to get more out of lavender, I highly suggest drinking it: Not only does it have a soothing effect on your nervous system, it also soothes the stomach and eases indigestion, which can be very helpful for those who suffer from chronic abdominal pain and intestinal disorders. Learn more from The Wellness Mama about lavender’s benefits and how you can use it for your health.
Lemon verbena leaf tea
Herbal tea enthusiasts from all around the world would recognize the fresh and mellow scent of these vervain leaves – they’ve been extracted into those sweet, sweet lemony essential oils that’s become one of the most favored scents among aromatherapists. From folk medicine to modern healthcare, lemon verbena has proven itself to be a great stress reliever and an effective digestive aid. The citrus-scented herb also aids the detoxification process of the liver, suppresses spasms in the colon (if any), as well as strengthening the immune system and preventing you from catching the common cold. Rubbing lemon verbena essential oil on your temples also soothes anxiety and an overall depressed mind, so it ensures you’ll have a good night’s sleep too.
This is the first time I’ve used lemon verbena in tea form, and honestly, I love smelling it more than the taste itself. It’s super mild, citrusy, and slightly sweet, which I’m sure many of you will love, but nothing compares to the strong, stress-busting fragrance of its decoction on my skin. However, there’s been quite a number of benefits from ingesting lemon verbena to enhance athletic performance: Apparently, the antioxidants in it builds speed and endurance, reduces muscle damage from all that running, and pares down overall oxidative stress – more than enough reasons why I’m still drinking the tea right now.
This one has a smooth, elegant, yet woody and grassy quality that is so distinctive, it’s no wonder that the French call it the forget-me-nots. And seriously, you gotta love its aftertaste – it’s so soft and raw and herbaceous that you keep wanting to drink it after the first sip. Personally, a cup of this works better at winding me down than the regular chamomile, but note that “relaxing” is a relative term that is different for everyone. I wish I can somehow upload the fragrance to the Internet and let you smell the warm tea yourself, but my best description would be that it’s like the last days of summer that yearns to be remembered long after it’s gone. It’s an understatement, really.
Forget-me-nots are traditionally used for many purposes, particularly for its beautifying as well as slimming effects. The bright purple blossoms not only aids respiratory functions (making that “ahhh” feeling), they are known to give a boost in metabolism and contain skin-lightening properties, which are also helpful in clearing out freckles and acne scars. It is rich in vitamin C, which helps build collagen, reduce appearance of wrinkles and dark spots, as well as protecting the skin from the harmful radiation in our daily lives, thus delaying the aging process of cells as well. Forget-me-nots are also said to promote eyesight, improve the immune system, replenish the kidneys, and clear heat from the body to induce a restful sleep, and I’ve found the last to be very true on nights I drink a cup of this tea.
French rose bud tea (玫瑰花茶)
Most everyone I’ve convinced to drink this thinks it’s the blandest tea they’ve ever drank, but I beg to differ. For those of you who have a very sensitive taste buds, you’ll benefit the most from this one. Besides, it’ll take less than a minute of steeping the buds before the intoxicating scent transforms the room you’re in into a rose garden (Seriously, it smells soooooo good).
I picked this up in a tea shop along the ancient Ming-Qing street in Pingyao. The China Rose bud, notable for its therapeutic effects and its pretty pink hue, has long been used for its healing properties (over 4,000 years!) in China. A study led by Taiwanese researchers found that drinking rose bud tea regularly for 6 months reduced menstrual cramps and psychological stress among adolescent women without additional side effects. This is perhaps due to its high vitamin C and polyphenols content, which are antioxidants that help fight free radical damage, prevents cancer, and keeps your hair, skin, and nails healthy.
Traditionally, this lightweight nirvana has also been used to help calm the central nervous system, treat conditions associated with depression (fatigue, insomnia, etc), increase blood circulation, improve digestion as well as to clear waste from kidneys and toxins from the intestines. Pretty amazing for a tiny little tea bud, right? (And I’m serious about it’s smell. It’s almost like an aphrodisiac for me – just a whiff of it never fails to uplift me instantly).
Jinlianhua tea (金莲花茶)
These big bright petals (of a plant often referred as the Golden Queen) are sooo gentle. Much like the flowering teas we’ve already covered so far, they’re packed with vitamin C. But what makes the globeflower special is that it also contains carotenoids, which your body turns into vitamin A that brightens your eyes and gives you a more youthful glow. Aside from the skin-deep benefits, it also boosts your immune system by increasing the production of antibodies in your body to fight against bacteria and viruses, all the while improving your metabolic functions and aiding the detoxification process of the liver.
Jinlianhua is also known to be especially effective for treating infections of the respiratory tract (between the throat to the lungs) as well as the urinary tract, as it’s also a diuretic. With time, this herb is also said to result in a fairer complexion as well as delay cellular aging, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties and those carotenoids we mentioned.
American wild ginseng tea from Eu Yan Sang (野生花旗参茶)
It’s the bitter herb all Chinese parents feed to their children but ended up causing the children to hate herbs. I’ve a recovering hater who’s slowly learning to live it. Ever since those 6 weeks I treated this blog as a mood journal, I’ve been gradually accepting ginseng as the painful path to health and recently, a necessity to maintain hair strength and prevent them from falling out. I tried everything from rubbing essential oils to stop washing my hair – but only ginseng works and significantly reduced the strands of hair I was falling out. Like jiaogulan, it’s an adaptogenic herb that basically tonifies and revitalizes every part of your body and improve overall cellular integrity when you take it on a regular basis.
It’s definitely not the sweetest of all treats, but as my mother always say, “Your healthy, energetic, and radiant future self will thank you so much for ginseng.”
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Right now I’m lusting for these cute little animal teacups.
But enough blabbering from me now: How often do you drink tea? And if you’re a fellow tea addict, where do you usually buy your tea leaves in the city?
My favorite place in Jakarta to purchase fresh tea leaves is still TWG Tea Salon & Boutique at Plaza Senayan, and for those of you who live in central Jakarta, I highly suggest checking out to their most recent branch at Pacific Place.
TWG Tea Salon & Boutique
Jl. Asia Afrika No. 8
Level 1 Unit 109A
Jakarta Selatan 10270
(021) 572 5276
M-S 10:00am – 10:00pm
Wang San Yang Tea Pavilion 王三阳茶庄
Singapore – ION Orchard
2 Orchard Turn, #B4-43
(+65) 6509 8805
M-S 10:30am – 10:00pm
via Imm Living
- But seriously, I hope you’ll digest the information anyway and actually start drinking more tea. [↩]