WHAT IT IS: Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is an herb with a very strong scent. It is common in lotions, baking, detergents, perfumes, and tea.
WHAT IT DOES: The beauty of lavender is that it can be used for a multitude of purposes. All over the world lavender is used for helping or treating insomnia, anxiety, depression, coughs, colds, and stress. Some sources say lavender helps with rheumatic discomfort and joint stiffness. Lavender tea can also help prevent dandruff and relax sore muscles.
HOW MUCH TO USE: Use one teaspoon of dried lavender for every one cup of boiling water. Honey and lemon can add extra flavor.
FINAL NOTE: A few sources say lavender tea may be used as an alternative to bug spray. Try it yourself and you might have just found your new repellent this summer.
WHAT IT IS: Elderflower is, as you might guess, a flower of the elder tree. The flower can be used in tea either fresh or dried.
WHAT IT DOES: Elderflower has been known to reduce mucus in the lungs and nasal area, as well as treat asthma, cough, bronchitis, and more. The real key is that it contains many immune-boosting properties ythat will help treat winter colds, flus, and fevers. Elderflower tea helps remove toxins in the body by making you sweat and urinate more often.
HOW MUCH TO USE: Use three to four grams of elder flowers with every five ounces of hot water. Drink one to two times daily to help with ailments.
FINAL NOTE: Use a trusted source for your elderflower. The plant can contain a chemical related to cyanide and can harm you if used incorrectly.
WHAT IT IS: Ginger is an underground root-like stem of the ginger (Zingiber officinale) plant. It has a pungent, spicy aroma and is commonly used in cooking, baking, and herbal remedies.
WHAT IT DOES: Originally popular in European and Asian countries, ginger use has spread across the globe. Ginger can be used to alleviate allergies, ease cramps and muscle aches, stimulate circulation, reduce motion sickness, reduce fever, treat bowel disorders, and cleanse the colon. For menopausal women, ginger can help manage hot flashes. For pregnant women, ginger can help reduce nausea and vomiting.
HOW MUCH TO USE: Use three thin slices of raw ginger for every 1 cup of boiling water. The more you let the ginger boil in the water, the stronger your tea will taste. Honey, orange, or lemon can boost the flavor.
FINAL NOTE: Some sources link ginger to relief of arthritis-related problems and UTI treatment because of the root’s anti-inflammatory compounds.
WHAT IT IS: Native to the Mediterranean region, rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a fragrant, perennial herb. It is often used to enhance flavors when cooking, particularly in hearty foods such as stuffing, roasted meats, and Italian dishes.
WHAT IT DOES: Adding rosemary to your summer adventures can go a long way. The herb’s antioxidants can cut the formation of carcinogenic compounds when grilling meat, and a daily dose of rosemary tea helps to break up internal gases—relieving indigestion and decreasing belly-bloat. Rosemary helps block allergy triggers, improve memory, and prevent arthritis, too.
HOW MUCH TO USE: Use1 tablespoon of dried rosemary for every 3 cups of boiling water. To sweeten, add honey or agave syrup.
FINAL NOTE: Rosemary’s antioxidants fight off free radicals—research suggests that the herb promotes eye health, reduces the formation of cancer-causing agents, and prevents brain aging.
WHAT IT IS: Rooibos is a plant native to South Africa; its name translates from Afrikaans to English literally as “red bush.” It has a sweet, nutty flavor. In addition to using the plant as a drink, it is also used for cooking and baking, and in some cosmetics to promote healthy skin.
WHAT IT DOES: Africans have used rooibos for centuries—the plant contains high amounts of antioxidants and minerals, including iron, calcium, zinc, and magnesium. Rooibos is also effective in treating skin ailments. Recent studies have shown that because of rooibos’ high levels of zinc, alpha-hydroxy, and superoxide dismutases, it’s a particularly effective treatment for acne both when taken orally and applied topically.
HOW MUCH TO USE: Steep 1 to 2 teaspoons of loose leaf rooibos tea per cup for 2 to 4 minutes. If you prefer tea bags, use 1 bag per cup.
FINAL NOTE: Rooibos is also known for its calming properties to help promote relaxation and a good night’s sleep, but it won’t make you drowsy during the day.
WHAT IT IS: Saffron is an orange spice native to Greece or Southwest Asia and is derived from the flower of the saffron crocus—a member of the lily family. The dried stigmas are used in various cuisines and as a coloring agent, bringing a golden-yellow hue to both foods and textiles.
WHAT IT DOES: Treasured by the Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks, saffron tea was often used in folk medicine. Research shows that saffron tea may improve eye health and even slow down blindness. Its golden color comes from a chemical component in the flower called crocin, which is loaded with antioxidants and may protect against cancer. Flavonoids (lycopene, in particular) can also reduce the risk for heart disease. Saffron may also help with memory, asthma, insomnia, PMS, and depression—in fact, it has been studied and shown to be just as effective as certain antidepressant drugs.
HOW MUCH TO USE: Steep 3 threads or fewer of saffron in hot water for a minimum of 20 minutes. A cinnamon stick added to your tea will reduce the bitterness of the saffron.
FINAL NOTE: Saffron is available in a powder or in threads, but because it can be expensive and difficult to find, when you do get it make sure to store it in a dry, cool area in an airtight container.