LOS ANGELES—Black and white are opposites. So are red and green. Yet, all four are different types of tea, made by various processing techniques from tender young foliage of the tea camellia, Camellia sinensis. Mixed together in various proportions, and with other teas and herbs, they make countless tea blends. Many of the herbs popularly blended with teas do not necessarily need the help of teas to be made into herbal teas. Like tea made from Camellia sinensis, herbs can be combined into countless blends of herbal tea.
The difference between teas known simply as “tea” and those known as “herbal tea” is that “tea” is made from the tea camellia with or without other herbs, and “herbal tea” is made exclusively from herbs without any tea from the tea camellia. Herbal tea can be enjoyed by those who should abstain from caffeine, or simply do not want caffeine in a hot beverage.
The various herbs that can be made into herbal tea or blended with tea are useful for much more than flavor. For example, eucalyptus can help with respiratory ailments. Yucca root has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant characteristics, and may help to decrease cholesterol. Elder berry and elder flower can enhance the function the immune system. These herbs are safer and gentler options to potentially riskier, more expensive, and obviously less enjoyable pharmaceuticals that might otherwise be used.
More flavorful herbs and teas are useful in conjunction with some of the more medicinal herbs that may not have such good flavor alone. For example, white willow bark taken as an anti-inflammatory is rather bitter alone, so is typically blended with herbs with richer flavor as an anti-inflammatory blend. Silver birch taken to help with detoxification is likewise generally blended with other herbs, both for flavor, as well as to take advantage of the healing qualities of other herbs that may also help with the process of detoxification.
Of course, herbs are not limited to use as herbal teas. Several, like mint and ginger, have culinary appeal. Others, like lavender and rose petals, are used for aromatherapy, or can be added to potpourri. Calendula and a few other herbs can be made into salve.
Well, all this is probably more information than most of us need to know about tea and herbal tea, but is some of what I learned when I stopped by the Create Your Health Healing Teas and Herbs Store, known more simply as CYH Teas in Silver Lake. I was hoping, but certainly not expecting to find some simple elder berry, since I have been neglecting the garden where I grow my own herbs for the past few years. Not only did I find elder berry, but I also found several other herbs that I had previously thought were available only from my own garden, as well as a few that I could not grow in my garden if I tried. I also learned more than I thought I needed to know about every herb I asked about. Really, it was so fascinating that I could not stop asking!
More than fifty teas and sixty herbs can be found at CYH Teas. These teas and herbs can be blended in any combination for flavor or for particular ailments. The store staff is remarkably knowledgeable about the various teas and herbs, so are very qualified to recommend teas, herbs and any sort of blend in between. There are so many choices though, that it is difficult to refrain from trying something new and perhaps completely different from what one expected to find before visiting the Store!
CYH teas is located at 3821 West Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake (Los Angeles), and is open Monday through Saturday from 11:00 to 7:00, and on Sunday from noon to 5:00. More information can be found online at createyourhealth.com/store. Create Your Health is all about sharing knowledge about alternatives to contemporary medicine, so is more than pleased to share information about the healing qualities of herbs and teas.
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