Saturday, November 27, 2010
Tea and Books Saturday #48 - "A Cozy Book of Herbal Teas"
A Cozy Book of Herbal Teas
By Mindy Toomay
Prima Publishing, 1995
While spending a miserable two days in bed with the flu last weekend, I suddenly found I had no desire for any beverage but herbal or spice blend teas. The hot liquid was such a relief to my throat, and I can't help thinking one reason I bounced back in plenty of time for Thanksgiving was that I drank so much tea! That set me to thinking about drinking more teas this year as preventive medicine, so I was happy to be able to consult a book that's been waiting on my shelf for a while, Mindy Toomay's "A Cozy Book of Herbal Teas: Recipes, Remedies, and Folk Wisdom."
I really like this author's clear, common-sense approach to using herbal teas. She writes, "The debate about the efficacy and safety of herbs as medicines is not likely to be resolved anytime soon … I maintain that the only meaningful approach to the question is to experiment cautiously on one's own, as many herbal proponents have done. Personal experience often convinces us that benefit can be derived from the careful use of certain herbs when we are faced with minor illness. The key word here is careful. Herbs, as well as drugs, must be used with respect."
Toomay's book focuses on well-known, readily-available herbs that can be used to make simple herbal teas. Chamomile, cinnamon, fennel, ginger, lavender, lemon balm and rosemary are some of the ones she favors. She also includes tidbits on the historical uses of herbs. I enjoyed learning that Thomas Jefferson prized lemon balm in the garden at Monticello, and that in Chinese medicine, licorice is considered "the grandfather of herbs." The book also includes a few recipes for teatime treats that pair well with herbal teas. I only wish I had read this book before I started gardening last year, because I definitely would have harvested and dried my own herbs as she recommends. And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to prepare a cup of chamomile tea!