Time for a post about non-Camellia sinensis tea, I think. Herbs are the order of the week. I was feeling a bit under the weather earlier this week, sore throat, sniffly, feverish, so I pulled out my trusty tin of YEP tea to see if that would knock whatever virus was floating around my system on the head in time for me to go to New Zealand on my (belated) honeymoon.
Now for those of you who don’t know what YEP tea is, it is pretty great stuff. I heard about it when I was at naturopathy college and have been a devotee of it ever since. The ‘YEP’ stands for ‘Yarrow, Elderflower and Peppermint’and it is a herbal blend that is just sensational for the early stages of colds and flu. When I really feel like I’m coming down with something, if I get right on to the YEP tea and drink loads of it (I’m talking 6-8 cups a day here) I will rarely get actually sick.
It’s not specifically immune-boosting or anything like that; instead it is warming and drying and in naturopathic terms this means that it helps raise and maintain the body’s temperature to an optimal level so that the fever can do its job, which is burning out the bugs from your system. (At this point I should just insert this WARNING: if you have anyone, particularly young children, who have a high fever, don’t use the natural remedies, get them quickly to a medical doctor or a hospital – the fever response is usually beneficial, but if it gets out of control it is extremely dangerous).
But back to more cheerful matters, like lovely herbs.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is a diaphoretic (raises body temperature and promotes sweating), a circulatory stimulant (moves the blood around so all those immune complexes can circulate quickly to where the bugs are) and a mucous membrane tonic (makes it harder for bugs to attach to surfaces and also helps alleviate symptoms like sniffling and sneezing), amongst many other useful things.
Elderflower (Sambuca nigra) is a mucous membrane tonic as well, but specific for the upper respiratory system (that’s your nose and sinuses for those of you playing at home); it is also anti-catarrhal (helps decrease mucous production), in part because of its tonic effect.
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) does a lot of great things, like being a digestive, but in this case it’s used for its circulatory stimulant and diaphoretic properties like the yarrow.
Altogether these make for pretty powerful medicine and it really does make a difference if you feel you’re getting a cold or a flu. I had oodles of it earlier in the week and I am not feeling ill at all any more. I like to make it fairly strong (about 1.5-2 tsp per cup instead of just one) but because you need to drink it as hot as possible for it to have the optimal effect you shouldn’t let it steep or cool for too long. The taste is minty but can be a little bitter – that’s mainly the yarrow’s fault – so you might like to add a little honey, which is also soothing for sore throats and antibacterial anyway. If I’m really feeling cold and miserable I add a pinch of chilli powder as well, this certainly helps to clear your head.
A side note: As I mentioned about I am going off to New Zealand, so I’ll be away for a couple of weeks. But fear not, gentle readers; I will be taking careful notes about my tea (and biscuit) experiences while I’m gone and will provide updates shortly after my return!