by Jo Snyder
Cold and flu season is upon us, and one great way to soothe the symptoms of illness — or better yet, prevent it — is with a nice cup of tea. Tea has an abundance of health benefits, and the simple action of drinking hot liquids keeps us hydrated and comforts a sore throat.
Regardless of the benefit you’re looking for, I’m sure there’s a kind of tea out there to suit your needs.
Black tea has one of the highest levels of caffeine available in tea, so even if you’re just looking for a little boost, a nice Assam tea will work wonders.
Matcha is a type of powdered green tea that uses the whole tea leaf, so you get as much out of it as you can. It’s particularly high in a compound called catechins, a class of plant compound that acts as natural antioxidants. Matcha has several other benefits, such as boosting our ability to focus as well as overall brain function, and there are numerous studies which suggest it will even help you lose weight!
White tea is not as popular in this part of the world, but it is very easy to prepare and has a lovely, delicate flavor. White tea is a great source of natural fluoride and helps to prevent the growth of plaque-causing bacteria.
Oolong tea is a traditional Chinese tea, and it makes up only about 2% of all the tea that is produced and consumed in the world. It is made from the same plant that produces green and black teas, so it shares many of the same benefits, but it is processed differently and has a unique flavor.
In the realm of herbal teas, sometimes known as tisanes or botanicals, the options are practically limitless!
A great go-to for this time of year is any herbal brew which contains licorice (bonus if it also has mallow root) to soothe sore throats. In most grocery stores these kinds of tea are often labeled as being good for the throat.
Ginger is a wonderful root to steep in hot water for its anti-inflammatory properties. It also treats many types of nausea, especially morning sickness.
If you like spicy teas, try making your own ginger root and black peppercorn tea at home! Just peel and slice your ginger root (larger slices need more time to steep but are easier to strain out) and add as many black peppercorns as you like. If you sweeten it with a bit of honey (another anti-inflammatory ingredient and natural antiseptic) you’ll have a caffeine-free alternative to spicy chai.
If you’re not a tea lover and just can’t stomach the flavor, you can always try my grandmother’s recipe for a cold tonic:
10 ounces of hot water, not quite boiling
1 tablespoon of honey
½ teaspoon of lemon juice
You can adjust to suit your tastes, but this is an easy beverage that soothes a sore throat, calms a cough, and helps relieve congestion.
If you aren’t sure where to start, stop by one of Appleton’s local cafes and ask your barista for their best tea tips!