Tag Archives: Thyme

The health benefits of a jolly good cuppa…

It is snowing where I live today.  In the UK, snow is either greeted with unadulterated glee or with unadulterated dread.  I am not that bothered by the white stuff myself, but I will confess to loathing attempting to get around in this weather.  I am a capable driver.  It’s the other idiots on the road that I worry about.

snowflakes

Anyway, with this cold and snowy weather, I love making steaming hot cups of tea.  I love tea.  I love coffee as well, but I do feel that tea is somehow encoded in my DNA.  My Mother’s family were tea planters, and some of their knowledge has been passed down to us.  We know a lot less than they did, of course, but I find the best cup of tea is without milk, possibly with a slice of lemon.  Obviously, you make it in a pot, preferably with leaves rather than bags, and you always warm the pot before pouring the hot water over the leaves and leaving it to steep.  If you have to put milk in tea, then put it in after the tea has been poured.

tea and lemon

A few years ago, my husband and I made a deal with one another.  If we were going to drink more tea and coffee than we strictly ought to, then we needed to make it the absolute best quality we could.  That is what we have done.  We get fabulous tea from a supplier in Canada (yes, I am serious!).  It is my best friend’s favourite tea shop, and when we were visiting there last year, we went in and bought stocks of my favourite blend.  Seriously this tea (The Baroness, by The Tea Girl) is the most restorative cuppa I think I have ever had the delight of tasting.  It takes me from utter exhaustion to back up on my feet and raring to go.

It got me thinking though.  We all know that tea is an antioxidant and it doesn’t deliver as much caffeine as coffee does, but does it help with anything else?  Turns out yes.  Black tea reduces the risk of kidney stones and artheroclorsis, osteoporosis and helps to raise low blood pressure.  Oolong tea is great for mental alertness and Green tea… well, this might be the biggest super food out there.  People have claimed it has cancer prevention properties, but that might be accounted for by the fact it is an antioxidant., but it also lowers high cholesterol and helps with the old mental alertness.  I really don’t like green tea.  I don’t like the taste of it.

oolong tea

Then I looked into  Tisanes.  Well, first of all what is a tisane is any hot drink made of something not from a camellia bush.  Yes, really.  Tea is the only hot drink that comes from the camellia bush.  Any other infusion is strictly a tisane.  (My tea planter Uncle, a mild mannered man, was extremely vociferous on this topic).  Herbally, we know that chamomile calms and peppermint is great for soothing stomach pain.  But a Thyme tisane is great for coughs.  And Ginger infusion is brilliant for nausea, dizziness and menstrual cramps.

snowy

I think, in this cold and snowy weather, hot drinks are a must.  And if they do you good, then so much the better!  Keep safe and warm!

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A change from green leafy herbs

So, we have done five green leafy herbs (I am including the Parsley post in that count) so now, I want to think about some other herbs which are a little different in habit, but still just as powerful.  You can still grow this on a windowsill, but perhaps in a separate pot from the rest of the herbs as it needs some different conditions to grow in.  Today the blog is about thyme.

thyme leaves

Thyme is a perennial shrub with a think woody base and square stems.  The leaves are tiny and richly fragrant, with lilac or white flowers that appear in summer.  Bees love them.  And the bees that love them produce some fabulous tasting honey!

 

My favourite way of having thyme is in a lemon and breadcrumb stuffing for roast chicken.  I am salivating just typing about that!!  But you can also use it in tea, soups and stews.  You can use the flowers, the leaves and the oil distilled from the leaves for the treatment of all kinds of ailments.  From my research it includes bedwetting, diarrhea, stomach ache, arthritis, sore throat, colic, coughs and bronchitis and flatulence.

 

It has been used for thousands of years.   Ancient Egyptians used it for embalming, Ancient Greeks used it as an incense in temples and was commonly added to bath water.  The Romans used it as a cheese and alcoholic beverage flavouring.  It is thought they are the ones who brought Thyme to a wider audience in Europe.

thyme oil

Scientists in Canada have found that Thymol, the main ingredient in the essential oil of Thyme is a powerful antimicrobial.  In their research, it was found to reduce the resistance of some bacteria who are currently resistant to drugs such as penicillin.

 

A research team at Leeds Metropolitan University in the UK have tested the effects of Myrrh, Thyme and Marigold tinctures on acne.  Apparently the Thyme worked best.  It is even more effective than some of the prescription creams currently prescribed and it killed the bacterium responsible for acne within five minutes of exposure.

thyme flower

A further team of researchers in Belgrade, Serbia have reported that an aqueous extract of wild thyme had some success in reducing high blood pressure in rats.  There needs to be further research into it before we can definitely say that it works in humans as well, but there is a track record that blood pressure in rats is similar to that in humans, so there is definitely hope!

 

One of the other tips I picked up in my research is that you should add Thyme towards the end of the cooking period so as not to loose the flavour and denature the volatile oils.

 

What an astounding herb!  A natural wonder.  And tasty into the bargain!