About two years ago, I switched from being an addicted coffee drinker to being a tea lover. For starters the only liquids I drink are water, tea, and the occasional coffee or craft beer to suffice the every-now-and-then crave. But for the most part, I am always drinking water or tea. Reason being is that sugary drinks, fruit juices, and soda are the number one unhealthiest substances to digest because it is able to get into your system the quickest. It is like giving sugar the fast-track pass into your body before you can even think of burning the calories off. We all know about the health problems of diabetes, obesity, and high blood sugar, etc. These problems all run in my family, which is why I stopped drinking soda back in high school. The great thing is that I have never missed it!
So now back to tea… I recently have acquired the taste of black tea that I gained through drinking it by loose-leaf, not just the tea served in prepackaged tea bags. Even buying tea by the individual tea bags that stores sell in boxes creates a bit of waste. So if you’re composting that metal stable selected brands have to close the tea bag is not biodegradable. For a sustainability perspective, I also would recommend loose-leaf tea because you can buy it in bulk and reduce your trash output immensely. I opt for this since the taste has a more authentic appeal to me and I can use the same batch to brew several times over before it is time to discard it for the next batch. It even gets easier if you happen to have a gourd, which requires no filter. Loose-leaf tea can be sipped straight from a special straw that already has a filter screen built into it. Gourds are especially used in South America to drink matte. I personally use a reusable Keurig filter because it has a fine screen, easy to clean, and I can load it with as much loose-leaf tea that would serve me three times in a 16 oz. thermos.
Yet lately what has gotten me really excited is the fact that I can make yummy tea from the huge leaves of my Mama’s lemon tree! I boil water and stick about 4-6 dark-green lemon leaves straight into my thermos (make sure to wash and clean them carefully). Then wait for the leaves to turn translucent. I may even add a couple mint leaves, also homegrown, whole or crushed for further flavor. The smell is a delicious lemon-mint and the taste is oh so fresh! Homegrown loose-leaf tea is cost effective and feels more delightful when it comes from your own backyard tree. Thanks Mama for telling me your secret tea ingredient. I like to call it my Good-Mood Mojo!
Now after some research, is steeping lemon leaves toxic? I have found citrus leaves for tea drinking is NOT toxic. It actually contains many health benefits! In many cultures lemon leaves are used for natural herbal remedies or used as a sedative for relaxation and good sleep when having a cup in the evening before slumber. Some refer lemon trees as the “Tree of Life” because of all the benefits of drinking lemon juice and lemon leaf tea. In addition, lemon leaves are rich in aromatic essence and medicinal properties serving as an anti-inflammatory, soothes cases of arthritic pain or diarrhea, boosts immune system, contains no caffeine, and it is high in antioxidants and Vitamin C. For seeing these kind results one would have to drink this tea at least twice daily. Overall I’m happy lemon leaves contain minerals the body needs without the drug of caffeine, which is found in coffee and other teas. In the citrus family: lemon, orange, grape, and tangerine are all candidates for brewing tea leaves. So if you are a coffee or a tea lover, I hope you’ll give that backyard citrus tree some love and reap the benefits from its fruitful bounty.