weekly plate plan: helpful infusions

by Kate Shapland

Many of us (myself included) can’t start the day without a cup of coffee. If you’re having yours after a cleansing hot water with lemon when you first wake up you’re doing well. If you’re substituting an ordinary caffeinated coffee or tea for herbal tea during your day you’re doing even better.

Make that herbal tea a detox blend and you get a gold star! There are a number of herbal teas that help to take down water retention and in turn reduce cellulite, the best of which are dandelion, couch grass, fennel, red vine, birch and horsetail. But you can also use herbs like basil, mint or bay leaves and other lesser known herbs to brew up a cup that will work as part of the Plan.

So which are the best homemade herbal teas?

First on your list should be birch and fennel herbal teas. Birch is ideal to fight water retention, while fennel helps reducing swelling. All you have to do to make this tea is leaving the ingredients to infuse for up to six minutes. Try to drink it twice a day for maximum detox benefits.

Red vine tea is another effective infusion during the Plan. This plant has a direct effect on capillaries, increasing their permeability and strengthening their vascular connective tissue. To make it, just leave some dried red vine leaves mixture to infuse for about 10 minutes, and try to drink twice a day on an empty stomach.

Horsetail herbal tea also has draining and mineralizing powers. To prepare this drink, let horsetail herbs infuse for 15 minutes and drink two cups a day. This tea is perfect for those who suffer from low blood pressure, and it also tastes delicious!

Blue (anchan) tea – also known as Butterfly Pea (Clitoria Ternatea – yes really!) – this one is said have amazing brain boosting, anti-stress and calming powers. Known for its luminous indigo colour, blue tea has traditionally been used as a vegetable in cooking, to colour deserts or to make a strikingly vibrant coloured tea. It’s jam-packed with health promoting antioxidants and flavonoids (both excellent for capillary health), helps to stimulate collagen and elastin synthesis, which rejuvenates the skin and, in the case of cellulite, strengthen it against misalignment of cells; it’s also diuretic, relieves swelling and purifies the blood.
To brew it, you steep the petals of the flower in boiling water and once you’ve discarded them you will be left with amazing indigo coloured infusion. Adding lemongrass improves the tea’s flavour, a few drops of lime juice will turn it a deeper purple, and mixing fuchsia roselle hibiscus into it will turn it bright red.

Cloudberry is another helpful fruit that can be enjoyed as a tea. It’s a delicious fruit that comes from a rhizomatous herb scientifically known as Rubus chamaemorusMany people are unfamiliar with cloudberries because they primarily grow in arctic or alpine environments, as well as in boreal forests in the northern hemisphere – they are commonly grown in Russia, Northern Europe, Scandinavia, some parts of the British Isles, Newfoundland, Canada, and Alaska. It’s benefits include boosted immunity, circulation and detoxification; it’s also rich in antioxidants.

Blooming tea, also known as ‘flowering tea’, this one boosts metabolism and promotes weight loss (if that’s your aim); it also improves digestion, relieves stress, pain and inflammation.

You can buy these herbal teas ready made or brew them yourself with herbs. Visit G Baldwin’s site for the best selection of raw herbs.