By Andrea Slivkova
Does it take a double shot of espresso to get you going in the morning? Or do you need two mugs of tea before you are ready to face the world? You may have heard the advice against propping up a tired body with caffeine – your adrenal glands can only take so much. But if you really cannot live without holding a hot drink in your hands first thing in the morning, why not try a herbal tea?
Admittedly, some flavours can be a bit of an acquired taste, but peppermint tea is quite delicious, in a soft, gentle sort of way, and it’s good for you too. In fact, peppermint tea is credited with aiding digestion, soothing the stomach lining, as well as relieving gas, bloating and constipation.
Menthol, which gives peppermint its characteristic taste and scent, is also a muscle relaxant, so it promotes relaxation and restful sleep – think of it as stress management in a cup.
If you are suffering from a blocked nose, whether it’s due to hayfever or a cold, simply inhaling the vapours of peppermint tea will ease nasal congestion and relieve the pressure in your sinuses. Meanwhile, drinking the hot tea will soothe an irritated throat.
The anti-inflammatory properties of peppermint help soothe the skin too, (and spots), so whether you drink it, apply it to problem skin with a cotton pad or add it to your bath, your skin will thank you.
Tea bags versus fresh leaves
Cheap, commercially available tea bags contain very little of the peppermint’s natural goodness, although some more expensive brands have improved on this. However, to harness the full power of peppermint, grow it yourself – ideally outdoors in a larger container, or indoors on the windowsill. It is very easy to grow from the little pots sold in supermarkets and garden centres, and the plant comes back every year.
However, over time the stems become a bit woody so the best solution is to take the plant out of the pot in the spring and separate the clumps, only keeping the best. Add some fresh compost, and keep watering. A word of warning: don’t plant directly into one of your lovely flowerbeds – before you know it, the peppermint will overtake your garden!
How to prepare fresh peppermint tea
Always use freshly picked leaves – only the leaves though, without the stem, and there is no need to chop them. Boil the kettle and let the water cool a little, then pour over the leaves in a cup or mug. Cover with a glass or porcelain saucer and leave for a few minutes. Drink hot, warm or cold.
By the way, you can eat the leaves. Even better, add a few to a refreshing salad.