Tuesday, September 22, 2009

5 Skin-Nourishing Teas

We all want a perfect complexion. However, sometimes when we are under pressure, or PMSing, stress builds up and manifests in the form of depressing, and sometimes painful, zits.

Here’s a tip that will help you achieve that dewier glow – it’s cheap, healthy, and simple. It’s tea. Tea has been used since like the beginning of time in every culture as medicine and for general well-being.

A few general reasons to give these herbal teas a go:

- They keep you hydrated, unlike black teas and coffee, which are diuretics

- They contain loads of antioxidants, which basically help your body to detox

- They are caffeine-free, which keeps the central nervous system mellow- Less staining on your teeth than black tea and coffee. Tip: Try replacing your cappucino with herbal tea, and you’ll see your teeth brighten up within a month.

The Teas

While there are many benefits to these teas, I’m only focusing their skin-clearing properties:

1. Calendula (Marigold) Tea comes from dried marigold flowers and is commonly used in skincare products. It’s anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial. It helps repair skin and can even be applied directly to the skin as a masque by mixing with a bit of cornmeal to make a paste. Plus, it looks cheery with its golden yellow buds.

2. Berries with Rosehips and Hibiscus Tea is an antioxidant central blend. You can go for the more traditional berries (blueberries, raspberries, etc…) but you’ll get more of a nutritional punch out of goji and acai berries. Rosehips are the bud at the base of a rose and are packed with vitamin C – excellent for both our skin and immune system. Another great addition to this blend is hibiscus, also high in vitamin C. The tea comes out as a magnificent garnet red color that makes you feel all special just to look at it.




3. Nettle Tea is a recent discovery for me. I started drinking nettle tea to help with my allergies. I was drinking loads of the stuff and found that my skin looked clearer. It turns out that nettle is also used to calm skin irritations, like acne and eczema.

4. Rooibos Tea is a South African tradition. This caramel colored tea is stiff competition for the berry tea in terms of antioxidants – it’s full of them. Rooibos (also known as Red) tea also contains alpha hydroxy acid, which is used in tons of skincare products for its ability to improve the appearance of the skin.

5. Chamomile Tea is an ancient Egyptian healing herb. It can be added to any of the elixirs mentioned above to take the edge off tangier herbs, like hibiscus, rosehips, and marigold. Mix a bit of chamomile with nettle – I found it addicting. Well-known for it’s calming effects, chamomile is also anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory. It can be applied as a masque using the same method as for the marigold masque. It also makes a great after dinner drink, as it aids digestion.

Tea Bags vs Loose Leaf

I’m not a Tea Snob. I mean, I’ll use a tea bag if I have to. But given the choice, I would absolutely go with loose leaf. Generally, the average tea bag is filled with the scraps or dustings of the larger tea leaves. You will get way more nutritional benefit out of loose leaf and it will take much better.

Recommendation: Get a teapot with a strainer. Bodum makes stylish teapots starting at 16 GPB or a fab single cup and strainer for 9. All you do is throw the herbs into the strainer and add the hot water ­– it really couldn’t be easier. I love the clear glass pots/cups to watch transformation and the color of the brew.

How to prepare the teas

Use about 1 tablespoon of herbs per cup. Once you’ve made your teas a few times, you’ll know how strong you like your elixirs.

Add boiling water to teapot/cup and allow to steep for 5-10 minutes.

Add 1 teaspoon of manuka honey per cup. I recommend manuka honey because of the additional healing properties. I also like the smoother taste. Note: do not add manuka honey to boiling hot water, as the heat will burn away the medicinal properties. Wait until the tea cools to add your honey, or add a bit of room temperature after to the cup and mix.

Drink at least 2-3 cups per day.

Where to get the teas

Most of these are available at Neal’s Yard from 1-3 quid per 50g (which should last about a month). Whittard’s sells tons of loose teas as well as lovely herbal blends for 3.50 per bag that you can mix with other herbs (try their Acai & Goji Berry Tea). You can also try health food stores, Whole Foods type shops, and online.

There are hundred of herbs out there that can help ease your ailments. These are just a few to get you going on building your own herbal medicine chest. Hope you enjoy the path to clearer, more hydrated skin.