Tea Blog

Holy Basil: A Helpful Herb

Holy Basil/Tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum, and O. africanum

Lamiaceae (Mint) family 

 

According to plant expert Richo Cech of Strictly Medicinals, holy basil was first introduced into the US about 50 years ago and thought to have originated from India. Since, scientists using chrome spectrum genetic analysis, have found the introduced plant matched species originating from Africa, not India. Ayurveda (“the science of life” originating in India over 5,000 years ago) claims the herb as its own, however there are still lots of conflicting claims as to which continent the herb originated. The herb “holy basil” (also known as tulsi) (Occimum sanctum) and the culinary spice basil (Occimum basilicum) are indeed different plants with significant genetic differences, so don’t get confused! 

  

There are four kinds of holy basil/tulsi often grown or imported in the US.:

Temperate Tulsi (Occimum africanum) is a self-seeding, short-season annual that matures quickly. This tulsi is a good one to cultivate in northern latitudes where it can grow at altitudes up to 6000ft and is harvestable at 40 days.

Vana Tulsi (Occimum gratissimum) is a temperate wild forest/bush/tree basil, native to east Africa containing a high quantity of euganol (oil of clove). 

Rama Tulsi (Occimum tenuiflorum) is green-leaved with a purple stem and is one of the tropical Tulsis. The dried leaves make a very good tea which is primarily used for digestion. It grows 3’ high with stems about ½” thick.  

Krishna Tulsi (Occimum tenuiflorum) (Shyama- black, or Amrita tulsi, because it comes from Ama-chi’s ashram in the south of India) has a dark purple leaves, purple stem and gets more purple as it grows. Used more for its detoxifying diaphoretic (warming) action, this variety can grow over 6’ tall and 5’ across with stems over 2” thick, essentially a small tree!

Many more varieties and hybrids of holy basil are found in India and worldwide but these are the four primarily used in teas.  

 

As a cultivated plant, holy basil is one of the best bee plants we can grow to bolster our native bee populations. Bees are drawn to the plant’s beautiful, tiny lavender blooms tightly displayed on linear spires. Holy basil also contains lots of triterpenoid compounds (essential oils) that help clean the beehive, dispel pathogens and limit mold. These compounds, which all holy basil varieties have, give the plant a unique clove-like and black pepper aroma. 

There are many other medicinal compounds found in holy basil that are beneficial to us as well as bees. As a medicinal herb, the basils, as a class, are stomachics (ease the digestion) and thus are helpful additives to foods or teas we consume (think basil in tomato sauce and salad dressings). As a tea herb, holy basil is kind to the stomach and helps balance and strengthen our digestive tract. Thus, holy basil is a great herb for including in a morning tea blend!

In Ayurveda, holy basil is one of the oldest and most used herbs and provides the backbone of multiple treatments among Ayurvedic physicians. It is considered one of the three most sacred herbs of India, along with soma and lotus. Directly translated as “incomparable”, tulsi is referred to in ancient Ayurvedic texts as the “elixir of life”, and is thought to promote longevity. Holy basil is also thought to support the energy of attachment, which is the energy that draws prosperity near and keeps it in our lives. In addition, all basils are treated as heart exhilarants in Ayurveda and are used to increase joy and happiness. Generally speaking, Ayurveda boasts holy basil as one of the best herbs to use for stress relief and anxiety disorders. Other traditional medicinal uses of holy basil include: relief of stress and anxiety, coughing, diarrhea, intestinal issues, fevers, arthritis, hiccups, skin conditions, malaria, diabetes, dementia, and acne. 

Recent scientific research has tested these age-old uses for holy basil and determined that the plant extract does have multiple therapeutic actions, including adaptogenic (read about adaptogens further down in our blog), antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, cardioprotective, and immunomodulatory effects. Serious attention is being given to its potential use in several conditions, like treating diabetes, normalizing blood sugar and blood fats, like cholesterol and triglycerides, and helping with cardiovascular diseases. Holy basil has also been shown to decrease shortness of breath and bronchospasm in asthma patients, kill microbes including bacteria and fungi, and stimulate the immune system. These studies have validated its historic use and continue to demonstrate the health benefits of this ancient herb. 

For more information on Holy Basil, click on our reference links listed below!

American Botanical Council review on Holy Basil

Holy Basil as an Immune Booster

Basil: A Brief Summary of Potential Health Benefits

Holy Basil Reference

Tulsi – Ocimum Sanctum: A Herb for All Reasons

Written by

Greta de la Montagne, RH (Registered Herbalist), AHG (American Herbalists Guild), and Lake Missoula’s herbalist consultant and blogger, edited by Boo Curry.

Keep it Chill with Chilled Tea!

As summer reaches it pinnacle, we all strive to get outside and make the most of the warm time remaining at the northern latitudes. One great way to simultaneously fuel your sunny, outdoor activities while cooling off, no matter where you are, is to reach for your favorite chilled tea! Chilled tea is a perfect for picnics, long bike rides, rafting and camping trips, and almost any of life’s adventures. Just as beer or wine pairs wonderfully with food, tea can be the perfect companion to your various endeavors. We share great pairings to jog your thinking about the versatility of chilled tea.

Enjoy strenuous activities like mountain biking, long hikes, climbs, or play on a sports team? We recommend chilling green tea to boost your endurance and energy levels. Our favorite enlivening green teas to chill include:

Moroccan Mint  | Sprinter’s Spritzer  | Jurasic Ginger Green  | Saber Tooth Green

All our greens are blended with premium green tea and contain plenty of antioxidants and caffeine to get you up and keep you moving! Along with refreshing botanicals to create revitalizing and harmoniously hydrating drinks, these green teas invigorate.

Lounging on a raft, at the beach, in your backyard, or strolling the farmer’s market? We prefer green blends with fruit tones:

Green Tea Colada with lemon, mango and coconut flavors! | Sakura Cherry | Apricot Green | Para-Sara Peach | Rainforest Fruit Green

Oolongs and Rooibos crowd favorites to include in your chilled tea arsenal:

Jasmine Orange Melange blend of green, white, and rooibos balanced with bright orange notes | Strawberries ‘n Cream OolongCitron Oolong

Admire and crave deep and bold black teas? Drinking chilled black tea can be a monumental part of your day and loved ritual. Try chilled black tea when waking up as a cold brew coffee alternative. Or drink it throughout the day while working from home or reading a good book. Black tea has a myriad of polyphenols, which may aide gut and heart health. It’s high in caffeine, keeping you focused and motivated. Chilled black teas make great Arnold Palmers (a mix of tea and lemonade) for afternoon get-togethers or a non-alcoholic beverage option at a BBQ! Our favorite chilled black teas are:

Birdsong BlackMammoth Red  Sunshine Daydream | Mango Love Not War | Creamsicle Crush

Last but certainly not least, take time for chilled herbal or botanical tea! Botanicals help us chill out (since they usually lack caffeine), and we can all use some down time once and a while. Bring a good botanical chilled tea to an outdoor movie, enjoy it on an evening walk, or offer it up at a backyard hangout as an alcohol alternative. A concentrated botanical infusion can also be a fun ingredient in cocktails or mocktails. The health benefits of drinking herbal infusions are vast (depending on the herb of course), so pick a tea that calls to you:

A few of my Favorite ThingsUplift both light, refreshin, and may help digest after dinner | Skin Glow, Sweet Rhapsody ‘n RoseWho Chic all wonderful stand-alone chilled teas, while Spicy Ginger SnapPleistocene Peach are fun to add to other drinks.

The possibilities are truly endless with chilled tea. Like most blogs, this is meant to get you thinking! For any tea novice OR enthusiast, chilled tea is a great way to enjoy teas you already like, or a good time to try something new. Really love a certain tea?  Try it cold and see how the flavor changes. Whether you want to cool down during your summer activities or amp up your afternoon relaxation, there is a chilled tea for every occasion!

written by Boo Curry

Our Tea Just Keeps Getting Better n Better

As COVID19 swept the nation in early spring, everyone, including Lake Missoula Tea Company, battened down the hatches and turned inward. With inward focus often comes clarity and new found attention. One area we focused our energy on was improving some of our time-honored tea blend recipes. Our blending team was hard at work tasting, trying, trying and tasting until they discovered the tastes and feels we wanted our teas to exude. Our goal was to intensify some of our delicious flavors while remaining true to the original tea blend. This was much like amping up the contrast and vibrancy in your favorite photo. These improved blends suddenly had a pop to them and seemed to leap out of our cups and dance in our mouths!

We started with one of our favorites, Sunshine Daydream, by adding more true peach flavor to this blend.  Although it retains its sparkling ginger notes, it is warmer and fruiter. For thoes of you who do not know, this is our premeir ginger peach tea, and will remain so.

Another black blend we improved on is Berry Patch Black, formerly our Raspberry Black. This blend is now creamier, more berry-like and smooth (unlike a berry patch actually…). This tea will become a go-to for thoes berry black tea fans out there!

Mango Love Not War was the third tea blend on our list. We wanted this tea to feel like love, so we adjusted it to have more mango presence, which warms your mouth while creating that tinge of happiness. We also added an undertone of passionfruit for its fun aroma and tart taste. Make sure to try this blend if you at all LOVE mango!

Along with black blend improvements, we amped up Apricot Green and Para Sara Peach, two of our green tea blends. We changed the base green tea for more well-rounded flavor in these two and increased their flavors. Both blends now taste full-bodied and abound with flavor, while still reminding us of the blends we came to love and gravitate toward. Because they are so crisp and flavorful, these blends are great options for making chilled tea as well. Apricot Green and Para Sara Peach will make your summer a true delight!

The botanical tea we improved was Sassy Citrus & Hibiscus, a caffeine free blend with bold cinnamon, citrus and hibiscus notes. We wanted this blend to pop and added some “Sassy” to the blend. We think you’ll really enjoy this refreshing tongue tantalizer.

This period reminded us that while we improved these tea, the process is ongoing. We’ll keep revisiting all of our blends to ensure we are producing the best tasting tea for you. As our understanding and experiencdes of tea grows, so will our repertoire of flavors we offer you.

All of these blends are Made in Montana tea blends.

Healthy Tea Habits Start Young

How to make tea for kids! Healthy tea habits start young. In this video, Aiden demonstrates how he makes loose leaf tea every day. He makes tea in the morning and in the evening after dinner. He shows how easy it easy to make loose leaf tea by using a gravity steeper.

Like many kids, Aiden was exposed to tea by his parents. Tea is a part of their every day life. Tea is a healthy habit and when kids get to experience it daily, tea becomes part of theif life, too.

This video was made by Lake Missoula Tea Company. Aiden talked about Turmeric Twirl, Beat the Snot out of You and Spicy Ginger Snap. He used a gravity steeper in this video. Thank you for watching this video about tea! Please comment and like for more videos!

Relax and Calm Down with Tea

Feeling overwhelmed, without focus, or upset? Interjecting positive habits like exercise, meditation and self care to our daily routines can do wonders. This is a time when we need to take special care of ourselves and maintain high immunities. And guess what? Drinking tea can boost your energy levels, improve your mental clarity and calm your nerves.

Unearth you gong fu tea set. Add some tea and pour the water…relax, delicious and calming. Perfection.

Or, dig your favorite tea pot from the cupboard. Brew your tea any way you want to. Pour a cup, relax, and reap the benefits!

However you find your way to tea, consume it daily. Try to add ritual to your tea steeping and drinking. Ultimately, this is good for your state of mind and overall health!

National Tea Day

National Tea Day is April 21. Here are 5 reasons why we should celebrate tea every day:

  1. Tea contains polyphenols. These antioxidants help bolster the body against oxidative stress and associated pathologies like inflammation, coronary heart disease and cancer.
  2. Tea helps to give you focus and mental clarity. It contains caffeine and the amino acid L-Theanine, which when consumed in combination can reduced mental fatigue, while increasing reaction time and working memory.
  3. Tea relaxes and calms us. The act of pouring and enjoying tea can help to wash away stress and settle us into our day or evening.
  4. Tea is exciting! Whether you like green, black, white, oolong, puerh, or botanical teas, there are hundreds of varieties and countless blends to keep you intrigued and enlivened!
  5. And last, but certainly not least, tea brings us together. Tea has traditionally been a way to pass time and relax with our friends and family. Although we cannot share immediate space right now, tea can make you feel connected. Have a virtual tea time with your pals or family – tea inspires communication and sharing, and there’s nothing like the bond that can be made over a cup of tea.

written by Boo Curry, Tea Tender and Social Media Lead with Lake Missoula Tea Company

Tea Drinkers May Live Longer Study Says

Tea* drinkers might live longer, study says. Well, that  sounds like music to a tea seller’s ears! And it’s no accident that we sell tea that we truly believe is good for you.

So what’s going on with tea and longevity? Tea drinking can have positive impacts on cardiovascular diseases. Flavonoids in tea help with inflammation and in turn help with blood flow. Tea drinkers consume approximately 20 times more flavonoids than non tea drinker.  The writer of the article conusulted the doctor who also pointed out that it might not just be the tea, but that tea drinkers also lead healthy lives. Either way, consuming an abundance of tea sets you up for the opportunity to a healthier, longer life!

*tea here means tea from camellia sinensis – black, oolong, green, white, puerh and yellow tea

Do Tea Drinkers Live Longer The New York Times

Cinnamon – A Tea and Spice Super Hero

Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum; Lauraceae) is the dried inner bark of the shoots of the cinnamon tree in the Laurel family. Cinnamon is widely found in medicinal and culinary tea blends; highly valued in Chinese medicine as a warming and stimulating herb, used to stimulate circulation and clear congestion.  Ayurvedic physicians of India use cinnamon bark for respiratory ailments, stomach upsets, muscle spasms and diabetes. It’s action as a demulcent in the gastrointestinal tract is especially helpful for many problems due to coldness.

 What are cinnamon’s “warming qualities”?

A deep acting stimulant, cinnamon warms the internal body.  This aids many problems due to coldness such as rheumatic pain, cramps, spasms, gas, coughs, mucous, and lower back pain.  It also warms the kidneys and strengthens the adrenal glands. The warming helps enhance immune functions and our ability to handle stress. It is useful for diarrhea and replenishing strength, especially for the eldery.  It is a main ingredient in Tiger Balm, the popular topical Chinese ointment for pain relief. 

Daily consumption of cinnamon can lower risk factors and stabilize metabolic syndromes. Recent studies prove ¼-½ tsp cinnamon per day balances blood sugar and can control blood sugar problems, particularly in type 2 diabetes, and also lowers cholesterol and triglycerides. Those with type 2 diabetes or those who have elevated glucose, triglycerides or total cholesterol may benefit from regular inclusion of cinnamon in their daily diet. (Dartmouth College researchers reporting in Diabetes Care)   

Cinnamon’s prevention qualities

Cinnamon may help prevent and/or treat: cancer, cholesterol problems, heart disease, hypertension, prediabetes, stroke, high Triglycerides, ulcers, and wounds.  For women’s reproductive health, cinnamon relaxes the uterine muscle and calms painful uterine spasms. Further, complex, double-blind, randomized, and placebo-controlled scientific studies prove reduced pain scores for perineal pain and healing from episiotomy incisions. Another female disease where insulin and blood sugar levels are haywire and the sufferer is at higher risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke is PCOS(Polycystic Ovary Syndrome).  Researchers state “interesting” findings from studies, and encourage further research.

Slimy Cinnamon

Cinnamon is highly valued by herbalists for it’s extremely slimy quality. Cinnamon turns slimy if steeped in hot water for many hours and then chilled. In hot and/or extreme dry conditions, this is what you want in your gut. The slime helps retain adequate hydration and keeps your tissues moist. Cold water extracts extremely slimy chains of mucopolysaccharides from cinnamon bark which can be highly analgesic and wound healing. 

Cinnamon is a time-tested remedy for the onset of colds. It will resolve irritating coughs, sore throats and bronchial congestion, and clears stagnation throughout the respiratory tract. Cinnamon tea also makes an effective mouthwash for gum inflammation. 

Cinnamon has a food-preserving quality

This is why it features as a dominant spice in many traditional dishes throughout the world. It effectively eliminates one of the most virulent bacterial causes of food poisoning.  It eradicates Helicobacter pylori, the bacterial cause of most stomach ulcers and a leading cause of stomach cancer. Cinnamon is also effective against Candida albacans.  This is the fungus that causes most cases of vaginal yeast infections. Because it is warming, it is a perfect accompaniment for cold dairy foods. 

Much of the cinnamon imported into the United States is Cinnamon cassia, also called Chinese cinnamon.  True cinnamon is Cinnamomum verum and goes by the name Ceylon and Sri Lankan cinnamon.  The two cinnamons are very difficult to tell apart but differ in flavor.  Cassia is the sweeter and stronger of the two while true cinnamon’s flavor is more complex and light tasting.

Lake Missoula Tea Company’s cinnamon blends

While many Lake Missoula Tea Company blends have cinnamon, Sassy Cinnamon, Citrus & Hibiscus is our heavy hitter.  Other blends that have cinnamon:

Sweet Rhapsody | Baked Apple Pie  | Everything’s Coming Up Roses  | Cycle Goddess  | Joint Peace, Arthritis Blend  |  Joint Peace, Arthritis Blend | Virtually all of our Chais  | And Rice PuddingCinnamon Orange Spice

References and recommended reading:

The Herbal Kitchen by Kami McBride.  50 Easy-to-Find Herbs and Over 250 Recipes to Bring Lasting Health to You and Your Family.

The Mistress of Spices  A novel by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. 

Herbs for the Home Medicine Chest by Rosemary Gladstar, Storey Books.  Understanding Herbs, When to Use Herbs, Home Health Care with Herbs.

The Yoga of Herbs by Dr. David Frawley and Dr. Vasant Lad.  An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine

Healing Spices; How to Use 50 Everyday and Exotic Spices to Boost Health and Beat Disease, by Bharat B. Aggarwal with Deborah Yost

Nathaniel’s Nutmeg, or The True and Incredible Adventures of the Spice Trader Who Changed the Course of History, by Giles Milton

Written by

Greta de la Montagne, RH (Registered Herbalist), AHG (American Herbalists Guild), and Lake Missoula’s herbalist consultant and blogger, edited by Heather Kreilick.

Social Distancing, Create Ritual with Tea

Social distancing is affecting us all a little differently.  Those of us in rural areas have the luxury to social distance and have access to open space. This allows us to get outside more and separate ourselves from feeling cabin (or apartment) fever. Getting outside allows us to take a break from the onslaught of news and feeds.  We feel for others in urban environments during this time that don’t have as much outdoor access. Whether rural or urban, use tea to add ritual to your day.  Tea is know to help you relieve stress, maintain your immunity and has anti-viral properties.  Keep this in mind during this pandemic.
Lychee Black, the brewed tea in these photos, is made w essence of lychee. Lychees are small, translucent, sweet fruits found in Asia. They have a hard outer shell that you peel like an orange before eating.  This tea is delicious and is perfect hot or cold.