All Health's Breaking Loose: Have your own tea party

There's great satisfaction when the rewards for our efforts multiply. It's why I began drinking tea. What started out with sense of duty, trying to offset a cold or settle my stomach, or whatever those first few cups were for, has grown into a welcome, calming, routine part of my life.

I am a tea snob. I appreciate a really good cup of tea and am delighted to know where it was grown and the properties it carries. I get excited about it. Tea is much more than we give it credit for — tea preparation alone can lower your heart rate. Tea is unique. It allows you a chance to savor the healing properties of herbs that come from the earth so simply. More than a drink, it is an experience. Wisely selected, herbal teas promote balance and don't stress the body with toxic additives.

You just have to know yourself and know a little about tea to create a great match. You also have to be a good consumer. There are products out there with “tea” in the name that have no tea in the product. And some grocery-shelf teas may have enough added sugar to offset the health benefits. And if a tea is really low in price, you may want to avoid it. Price can be telling factor of how it was grown and harvested.

Herbal teas are a therapeutic treatment for body and soul. Let the condition of your body decide which tea to drink. If you listen to your body, there's always an herb that will suit the moment.

If you are nervous, over-scheduled, anxious about upcoming events, having trouble sleeping, or just stressed, choose camomile. It calms the nerves, relieves muscles spasms and even menstrual cramps. Tulsi is a good choice here also.

If your need fresher-smelling breath, have occasional upset stomach, have eaten too much rich food lately, or want to support your liver or gallbladder function, choose peppermint tea. It is a natural cleanser of the body, a digestive aid and refreshing any time — iced or hot.

If you are struggling with sleepless nights, having headaches, hypertension, asthma, eczema, mild depression or hay fever, choose rooibos, or red bush tea. This is one of my favorites. I was turned on to rooibos years ago by a friend who hails from South Africa, the indigenous digs of rooibos. I live for the aromatic, fresh rooibos tea her parents bring me when they come to the States for a visit. Rooibos contains a mimic of the enzyme superoxide dismutase, which provides its antioxidant properties. It is anti-aging because of its ability to destroy free radicals.

If you are afraid you can’t find a tea flavor you’ll enjoy and want the antioxidant properties and health benefits of green tea, choose white tea. It is milder, with a delicate flavor and with all the benefits of green tea. Some studies have shown it may offer more antioxidant properties than green tea.

A few simple steps insure a great cup of tea:

Start with cold, fresh water. Hard water and bottled mineral water will bring tea scum. Previously boiled water has lost its dissolved oxygen, which is necessary to bring out the flavor of the tea.

Listen for the whistle. Bring to a boil with the heat turned just a notch down from highest setting. Listen for the whistle, then turn off the heat and let it rest for about a minute. Pour a cup of water over one tea bag or a teaspoon of loose tea.

Brew most teas for 3-4 minutes, green and white tea for 2-3 minutes. Brewing for too long will release the tannins that leave a bitter aftertaste. Caffeine infuses within the first minute.

Use your favorite mug.

Sweeten to taste. This is where it gets fun. Acacia honey from Italy is light in color and wonderful in tea. Treat yourself to a little private personal collection of honey to be enjoyed as you desire. Stevia is also nice in tea, but use it sparingly. Organic sugar, pure maple syrup and agave nectar are all sweeteners I keep handy and use according to my mood.

Milk or lemon — if you need either of these, just keep it real, no substitutes.

Be cool. Now that you have brewed a fabulous cup of tea, the last thing you need is to burn your tongue. Let it rest, give it a minute or two while you enjoy the aroma. If your mug is too hot to hold, then it is too hot to drink.

This is the best part — sit, breathe, relax, ponder. Enjoy your moment and your tea. When you get back to dealing with the issues of the day, you’ll be better equipped. You deserve moments like this each day. Keep your tea kettle at the ready. The cold months are just ahead, you’ll be glad you are prepared. So, drink to your health. Cheers!

Love and health,


LOA BLASUCCI lives in La Cañada and teaches courses at the Community Center of La Cañada Flintridge. Her website is

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