Make time for a cuppa... of a health-boosting herbal tea
Warm, comforting and the perfect bedtime ritual, herbal teas are a natural way to reboot your health this summer, writes Liz Connor
People in Northern Ireland have long been known for their love of a good cup of tea, and the trend doesn't seem to be waning anytime soon - according to the Tea and Infusions Organisation, across the UK we currently drink around 60 billion cups per year.
Builders brew firmly remains our favourite tipple, but herbal teas have been enjoying something of a revival in recent years, thanks to a growing interest in health and wellbeing.
Herbal tea is made by boiling herbs or spices in water to extract the active ingredients. As well as being good for the soul, there are plenty of health benefits too - whether you need help getting a good night's rest or you're looking to boost your energy, there's a blend out there for pretty much every issue.
Here are just five of our punch-packing favourites...
1. Green Tea
Helps: to give you an energy boost
Loaded with antioxidant and flavonoids, a warming cup of green tea can help to ward off free radicals - unstable molecules in the body that damage healthy cells. Studies have also found that it can protect against heart disease, clear up acne and act as a powerful anti-inflammatory. Plenty of people drink green tea throughout the day, but it's worth remembering that it naturally contains caffeine - so if you're a restless sleeper, it's better to get your hit first thing in the morning rather than last thing at night.
2. Chamomile Tea
Helps: to get a good night's rest
Gentle and calming, experts have claimed that the flavonoids in this sedative tea act as a mild tranquilliser and sleep-inducer, binding to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain - just the tonic to help you switch off next time you are tossing and turning into the early hours. Several studies have also linked chamomile to reducing menstrual pain, targeting inflammation and lessening migraines.
3. Turmeric Tea
Helps: to relieve joint pain
Also known as 'golden milk', turmeric tea might just be one of the healthiest beverages going. Cucurmin, the active ingredient in turmeric which is responsible for its brilliant yellow colour, is where the health benefits lie. As an anti-inflammatory, a 2017 study found that curcumin could reduce the most prominent symptoms of arthritis and joint pain. Researchers have also credited the tea for boosting immune function, lowering cholesterol and even preventing Alzheimer's disease.
4. Peppermint tea
Helps: calm an irritated stomach
Often referred to as 'the stomach healer' this fragrant tea will be your best friend during your next hangover. Why? Because studies have found that menthol has anti-spasmodic effects, which can help soothe many stomach ailments, including aches, pains, cramps and even flatulence. Drinking a cup of peppermint tea in the days leading up to menstruation can help treat any stomach upsets.
5. Echinacea Tea
Helps: fight off flu
Just because it's summer doesn't mean you're safe from being knocked down with a nasty cold. The good news is that tea can help. Drinking Echinacea has been found to be effective in shortening the duration of cold and flu symptoms, while one study found it could reduce the odds of developing a cold by 58%. The tea itself has a strong, floral taste that takes some getting used to - but if you've got a big event coming up and you're determined not to fall ill, it might be worth safeguarding yourself by knocking back a daily cuppa.