The majesty of loose leaf tea, made incredible by Yogi

Have you ever wondered why loose tea tastes better than tea made with a tea bag? Let’s be frank: have you ever realised that loose tea tasted better than tea from a tea bag?

Loose tea leaves are complete or at least bigger compared to the broken scraps found in your common tea bag. Bigger really is better in this case because, bigger leaves retain their essential oils while broken particles allow more of those nutrients to evaporate, leaving a comparatively lifeless flavour.

Yogi is no ordinary tea

No ordinary tea
No ordinary tea

Now, Yogi tea is different, not least because they are made of an amazing mix of spices and not simply tea leaves. However, Yogi tea bags are different too. Their commitment to natural flavour means their many teas are packed individually in heat-sealed envelopes to help preserve the health benefits of the herbs used. This also maintains the freshness and flavor.

But now Yogi are letting you get your hands on their original loose leaf concoctions. Another big advantage of brewing loose leaf is that the leaves have space to swell with water and release their flavour. The water circulation around the tea leaf is also important.

So, Yogi are offering some new flavours. See if you can taste the difference…

Ginger Lemon Chai
– warm pungent ginger balanced by refreshing citrus
Choco Chai, Aztec Spice
– a recreation of the ancient Aztec recipe called ‘Xocoatl’
Good Morning Chai, Roasted Chicory Spice
– roasted chicory, cinnamon, cardamom and licorice brings  a warmth and full-bodied taste
Himalaya Chai, Ginger Harmony
– sweet fennel seeds, spicy ginger and cosy cinnamon for uplifting moments
Classic Chai, Cinnamon Spice
– original recipe is cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves and black pepper

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Herbal remedies are here to stay (some of them)

Did you know that one 1/4 of people in the UK use herbal medicines? That’s over 15 million people!

It might explain why there’s been something of a flurry concerning new laws at the end of April 2011 regularising herbal medicine.

Positives and negatives
The benefit is that herbal remedies must come under safety guidelines. The negative is that not every herb currently used will make the grade, which may put some people at a disadvantage. And, as with other medicines, it also doesn’t prove that the herb will work for you.

What this means
Basically, licensed herbals must now carry a ‘THR’ mark (Traditional Herbal Registration). You’ll see a lot of repackaged herbal solutions on the market.

For example, Higher Nature, a well reputed provider of supplements, has just brought out its Licensed Herbals range. These include:

■ Black Cohosh Menopause Relief
Devil’s Claw Muscle & Joint Pain Relief
■ Echinacea Cold & Flu Relief
■ Feverfew Migraine Relief
■ Milk Thistle (for relief from over-indulgence of drink and food)
■ Passionflower Relax Aid
■ Pelargonium Cold Relief
Rhodiola Stress Relief
■ St John’s Wort Mood Uplift
■ Valerian Sleep Aid

There might still be other ways of consuming herbs which aren’t registered, for example the herbs may well be able to be consumed as food or in teas, as long as they’re not trying to be medicinal – and this too might mean that we see some ‘interesting’ new foods on the market…

“Oh, bring us a figgy pudding and a cup of good cheer ” How much do you know about traditional Wassail? (a.k.a fruit punch)

Sing carols, eat gingerbread and sip wassail punch – that was how the Victorians would celebrate Christmas. A centrepiece of the gathering would be to set the punch bowl on fire.

Yorkshire Punch - a cup of good cheer
Yorkshire Punch - a cup of good cheer

A roasting fire on a cold winter night and a richly aromatic warm drink in hand ready to toast your friends’ good health? Or a reviving stiffener for when you’re well wrapped up, strolling through a Victorian Christmas market, while the carollers sing in the background?… Most European nations still know how to make their own version of the hot punch.

The recipes vary from family to family, and nation to nation, but the central idea of Christmas punch is that it’s a hot spiced drink sipped to keep the winter chills at bay.

Yorkshire Punch
is made from an old traditional recipe. It’s herbs and natural flavours are carefully chosen for pleasure to relax and to cheer you as intended. As a non-alcoholic drink, it can be served cold to refresh or warm to relax.

Rochester’s Organic Hot Toddy is another punch that’s non-alcoholic (which means you can your own tipple if you choose). While it’s made with ginger it has a fruitier blend to the Yorkshire’s rich warming spice version.

But the main point about drinking punch (as opposed to cocktails) is all about friendship. Make sure you do it with friends, preferably with a ‘Loving Cup’, and don’t be afraid to begin a song or two.

For other seasonal drinks such as Great Uncle Cornelius Finest Spiced Ginger, check out GoogleDirect’s drinks shelf to find spicy and sparkling non-alcoholic drinks.

Basil Butter

Delicious basil flavored butter. Tastes great with hot pasta or on grilled veggies and corn on the cob. Or why not try it spread on freshly baked bread!

Ingredients:

Method

Place garlic, basil, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the garlic is in small bits. Add the butter, and process just to mix together. Spoon into container, and refrigerate until firm.

30 Servings

Arthritis: The Best Natural Remedies

Arthritis can be hell to live with, but you don’t have to put up with it.  There is a range of natural approaches that can help ease the pain.

Anyone who has arthritis knows it can be a nightmare.  It causes inflamed, stiff and swollen joints, leading to chronic pain.  And, contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be over a certain age to get it.  Of the eight million people in the UK with arthritis, a million are under 50, with 27,000 aged 25 or younger.

What is arthritis?

The word arthritis literally means inflammation of the joint.  The most common forms are rheumatoid arthritis, which is an inflammation of the tissue surrounding a joint, and osteoarthritis, where the cartilage in the joints become damaged.  Conventional treatment is with steroids and painkillers, the most common being non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).  There are more than 24 million prescriptions written for NSAIDs in the UK each year.  They help reduce inflammation and pain, but can have a number of side effects such as stomach problems, heartburn, indigestion, rashes, kidney problems and wheeziness.

There are ways you can help treat the condition naturally, but don’t stop taking your medication without seeking advice from your doctor first.

Changing your diet

Making simple changes to your diet can be effective in controlling arthritis.  Dr John McDougall, of the McDougall Wellness Clinic in California, points out that, while arthritis affects around 70 per cent of people over 65 in the West, it is very rare in African and Asian countries.

‘As recently as 1957, no case of rheumatoid arthritis could be found in Africa, and up until then people in Africa had diets based on grains and vegetables,’ he says.  He prescribes a low-fat vegan diet based on starches, fruit and vegetables and if improvements aren’t seen in two weeks, he advises the elimination of wheat and corn, then other foods, until the culprit is identified.  His approach is backed up by studies; one, published in The Lancet, looked at 46 adults with rheumatoid arthritis who eliminated dairy products and cereals from their diets.  Of these, 19 went into complete remission for between one and five years and a further 17 showed improvements.

It is important, though, that you visit a nutritionist before you exclude any foods from your diet.

Do supplements help?

The most popular supplements for arthritis are glucosamine and chondroitin.  These help to hold water in the cartilage, giving strength to the joint surface.  Last year, researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine found that both glucosamine and chondroitin may help in the repair and maintenance of cartilage.  There’s currently no recommended daily allowance (RDA) for glucosamine or chondroitin, but McDougall says an effective dose is 1,500mg and 800mg respectively. They aren’t suitable for vegetarians as they’re made from animal ingredients, but research into supplements containing gamma linolenic acid (GLA), such as evening primrose oil and starflower oil have shown encouraging results.

How herbs can help

‘Problems affecting the joints make up an extremely large proportion of the average herbalist’s case load, but they can often be treated with good results’, says medical herbalist Kate Butler.  ‘Many people find that they can reduce the amount of painkillers they are taking, have more pain-free days, reduced levels of stiffness and increased mobility.’

For best results, you should always consult a registered herbalist before taking herbs (and tell your GP what herbs you are taking) but the following remedies can help.  ‘The daily dosages should be split into three and taken throughout the day’ says HH medical herbalism adviser Andrew Chevallier.

Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties, is a mild painkiller and strengthens connective tissue between joints.

Contraindications: Avoid if you have gallbladder problems or are taking anticoagulants; it can also increase sensitivity to sunlight.

Dosage: 2-4g of dried herb or equivalent in tablets (take as directed); 14ml (1ml is about 15 drops) of tincture.

White willow bark has similar anti-inflammatory and pain relieving actions to aspirin, without the side effects on the stomach and digestive system.

Contraindications: Avoid if you’re allergic to aspirin or taking anticoagulants.

Dosage: 2-4g of the dried herb or equivalent in tablets or capsules (take as directed); 14ml of tincture.

Devil’s claw is useful for a wide range of joint and muscular problems as it’s an anti-inflammatory herb.

Contraindications: Do not take if you have a stomach or duodenal ulcer, are taking anticoagulants, or are pregnant.

Dosage: 2-5g of the dried herb or equivalent in tablets or capsules (take as directed); 14ml of tincture.

Ginger is anti-inflammatory and can be used internally and externally.

Contraindications: As with devil’s claw.

Dosage: 0.5-3g of dried herb or equivalent in tablets (take as directed; 3g per day will make you feel hot); 1.4ml of tincture.

Nettle strengthens and supports the whole body and improves elimination of waste via the kidneys, in particular uric acid, making it a useful cleansing remedy.

Contraindications: None.

Dosage: 2-10g of dried herb or equivalent in tablets or capsules (take as directed); 14ml of tincture.

Christine Morgan
© Here’s Health