Summer is the perfect time to enjoy a tall glass of iced tea after a day of gardening or weeding. You may even find the icy glass to soothe your nettle-stung fingers. But have you ever tried adding any of those stinging nettles to your tea?
Nettles have been used since ancient times to treat arthritis, high blood pressure, urinary tract infections, eczema, and more. They are an extra-rich source of vitamins, minerals, flavonoids, and deep-green chlorophyll. Nettle tea is an especially potent source of magnesium, a crucial mineral for optimal health and energy.
In double-blind clinical studies, nettles have been found to improve blood sugar control in type 2 diabetics; urinary symptoms in men with benign prostate enlargement; and seasonal allergy symptoms like runny nose, sneezing, and itchy, watery eyes. Making a tea out of the leaves of dried nettles is a great way to treat these conditions while boosting nutrient intake.
Superstar Green Tea
There are three main types of tea: green, black, and oolong. Each type comes from the same plant, Camellia sinensis, but because of different processing methods, green tea has the greatest source of flavonoids, particularly those known as catechins. Green tea catechins, particularly epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), help prevent and treat many kinds of diseases.
Dementia and mild cognitive impairment. Very recently, Japanese researchers studied 490 people to determine whether the consumption of green tea, coffee, or black tea influences the incidence of dementia and mild cognitive impairment in older people. Results showed that green tea consumption is significantly associated with reduced risk of cognitive decline, whereas coffee or black tea consumption made no difference in the incidence of dementia or mild cognitive impairment. Any level of green tea consumption was helpful for preventing cognitive decline compared to not drinking green tea, but the more green tea consumed, the greater the effects.
Cardiovascular diseases. Green tea catechins have been shown to help prevent atherosclerosis, hypertension, heart attacks, heart enlargement, and congestive heart failure.
Autoimmune diseases. Green tea and its active ingredient, EGCG, have consistently been shown to benefit the healthy functioning of the immune system. Green tea/EGCG has a particularly dramatic effect on immune cells called T cells, which become dysregulated in autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
Obesity. Some studies suggest green tea modestly enhances weight loss,12 though it is controversial. In one of the most recent studies to assess green tea’s effects on weight, four cups of green tea per day caused statistically significant decreases in body weight, waist size, and blood pressure in people with type 2 diabetes.
Cancer prevention. Green tea also appears to help prevent and even treat some types of cancer. Many clinical trials, for instance, suggest that green tea helps protect men from getting prostate cancer.
Where to buy Your tea
Look for the loose/bulk versions of dried nettle and green tea to save money and make larger batches of more potent tea. You can often find dried nettle leaves in the bulk herb section of your favorite natural grocer, or you can order them online from companies like Frontier Coop or Mountain Rose Herbs. Or, if you’re gifted every spring with an abundance of nettles, you can harvest and dry them yourself.
Green tea has many flavors, so if you haven’t found one you like, experiment by purchasing small amounts of different types to try. I enjoy Organic Green Tea China Gunpowder sold by TeaFountain, and Organic Emerald Lily Green Tea by Vital Choice.
To keep green tea from tasting bitter, don’t use boiling water and don’t steep for too long. Just a couple of minutes in cooler-than-boiling water is best for optimal taste, and this method still extracts the healthful catechins and other compounds.
By combining green tea and nettles with other flavors, you’re sure to find a summertime treat you’ll love.
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