Feeling out of sorts: There might be a tea for that

Feeling out of sorts: There might be a tea for that

by Karen Bradbury
Stripes Europe

As the days grow shorter and cooler, the time for coolers and cocktails has slipped away in favor of winter warmers and bolstering beverages. While coffee’s the tried and true go-to for many, living in Germany presents one with the opportunity to sample a broad range of herbal, "Kräuter," teas perhaps not so readily available in the U.S. Sold in supermarkets to some extent, drugstores such as Rossmann and dm offer an even greater variety of herbal teas, both pure and in dozens of combinations. Some claim to offer an overall mood-enhancing effect, while others promise to tackle specific conditions or ailments.

WARNING:
Before delving into the world of teas, it’s essential to bear in mind that “herbal” is by no means synonymous with “harmless.” Be ever-vigilant about what you’re putting into your body and keep yourself informed as to any potential side effects or interactions with prescription drugs you may be taking. Teas labeled Arznei-Tee are considered pharmaceuticals, and as such are sold with warning labels describing their risks and possible side effects, so be sure to read them (yet another instance in which the Google translate app with camera proves itself invaluable!) and check with your doctor beforehand whenever there’s the slightest room for doubt.

Here are a few of the herbs, their English names, and some of the effects ascribed (but not necessarily clinically proven) to them:

Anis/Anise: Anise, similar in taste to licorice, is purported to aid digestion, serve as an anti-inflammatory, boost the immune system, treat respiratory ailments by functioning as an expectorant, aid breastfeeding moms in lactation, stimulate the appetite and maintain hormonal balance. Note the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning against drinking tea brewed with star anise.  

Baldrian/Valerian: with a taste often described as “woodsy” or less appealingly, dirty socks, teas brewed with this herb purport to improve sleep, decrease stress, relieve menstrual cramps and reduce some of the symptoms associated with menopause.

Fenchel/Fennel: with a taste like licorice, fennel tea is supposed to aid in digestion and treat bloating, gas or cramps.

Ingwer/Ginger: Aromatic and spicy ginger is considered by many as a great all-rounder. Drinking ginger tea is believed to help alleviate stomach aches and menstrual pain, improve circulation and digestion, reduce inflammation and relieve stress. A slice or two of fresh ginger root can be used as a zingy alternative to conventional tea bags.

Kamille/Chamomile: mild and flowery chamomile tea is popular back home as well. Many tout its ability to induce a good night’s sleep; it’s also thought to reduce inflammation and menstrual pain, boost immunity and ease the symptoms of a common cold.

Kümmel/Caraway: described as having a mild licorice, peppery or even soapy taste, caraway teas are thought to aid digestion and alleviate bloating, intestinal cramps and heartburn.

Lavendel/Lavender: floral and sweet lavender is lauded as an aid against anxiety, tired muscles, insomnia, indigestion, headaches, respiratory ailments and inflammation. It also functions as an antiseptic.

Melisse/Lemon balm: as its name suggests, the herb has a mild lemon aroma. It’s used for anxiety, sleep problems, restlessness, melancholy, digestive problems, bloating, menstrual discomfort and headaches.

Pfefferminz/Peppermint: the well-known herb with a refreshing taste is credited with calming inflamed sinuses, relieving pain and headache, soothing upset stomachs, reducing stress and increasing alertness.

Roiboos/Redbush: tea brewed with red bush leaves has long been popular in South Africa. Its taste is described variously as nutty, slightly earthy and reminiscent of tobacco. It is claimed by some to boost antioxidant levels and to be beneficial against seasonal allergies such as hay fever.

Salbei/Sage: aromatic and slightly bitter sage is a taste we might be more apt to associate with pork and sausages than a steaming cup of tea. It is commonly used to address digestive problems, stomach pain, bloating and heartburn.

Süßholz/Licorice: licorice tea is thought of as a good means to soothe stomachs and common colds, a stress reducer, and a cleanser of the respiratory system.

Verbenen/Verbena: with its strong lemon taste described by some as perfume-like, drinking verbena tea is reputed to soothe indigestion, heartburn, anxiety and insomnia.

Zitronengras/Lemongrass:  often used as a spice in Asian cooking, teas brewed with this have traditionally been used to combat colds, coughs and flu. It is also considered a diuretic and a detoxifier.  

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