BOOK REVIEW: An encyclopaedia and medley of herbal teas for tea enthusiasts
By: ARBEENA SHAH
As Kristin Chenoweth says, “As much as you can eat healthy, it’s also important to remember to drink healthy too. Tea is very healing.”And what could be better than having a list of numerous valuable teas by your side for your vigorous health? 20,000 Secrets of Tea is among them.“One tea a day is better than none. Two teas a day are better than one”, writes Victoria Zak in her cookbook ’20,000 Secrets of Tea: The Most Effective Ways to Benefit from Nature’s Healing Herbs’ published by an American publishing house, Dell Publishing, in 1999.
This 251-page book provides an insight into the world of herbs and their effectiveness upon brewing in water. It also states the significance of one simple herbal tea in our menu. Divided into six chapters, it provides a succinct historical journey of Camellia sinensis (black tea shrub) from China to all across the globe, in its initial chapter.
It then provides step-by-step instructions for using various herbs as teas, along with the appropriate method of preparation such as infusion and concoction. It also contains many ‘inspirational blends’–combination of more than one herb- such as Iced Peppermint Twist (peppermint and lemon balm with a spiral of orange) for refreshment, Iced Cranberry Dandy (cranberry and dandelion) for internal cleansing, Scarborough Fair Tea (rosemary, sage, parsley and thyme) for recovery and clear thinking, Razzle Dazzle (parsley, raspberry and basil) for toning the organs and constipation. The blends provide synergy- a combo of flavor and energy that is loaded with health benefits and boosts the healing. The book contains some True Fruit Iced Teas and their benefits. It further provides the list of teas for special occasions and the ten terrific teas for modern medicinal kitchen which includes- Astragalus tea (for restoring immunity), Chamomile tea (for soothing nerves and stomach-aches), Cranberry tea (for vitamin C), Dandelion tea (for removing toxins), Eyebright tea (for eyestrain), etc. It also provides A-Z herbal health guide which contains the name of herbal teas for treating some common health problems and disorders such as acidity, acne, allergy, bad breath, cold, fever, headaches, hair loss, rashes, etc.
The last chapter of the book titled ‘A Modern Herbal Tea Garden’ contains long list of herbs, their Latin names, precise herb history, properties, benefits and uses. It also provides some tools in the beginning of this chapter which one can use to be an informed consumer of herbs. The book dives the reader into the garden of herbal teas and reveals their importance in one’s kitchen. The author states that apart from tea lovers, the herbal teas are for those people who look for natural solution when they encounter any minor discomfort or illness. The book states that a simple cup of tea has the power to soothe and relax, and provide healing herbal agents to the bloodstream quickly than pills, capsules, tinctures or infusions. They are the drugless remedies which do more than just quenching one’s thirst. Therefore, it is important to be well-informed about herbs and be loaded with their knowledge which can be bought into use upon encountering a certain issue in a body. The tea not only adds pleasure to the daily menu but also adds whole new dimension to healing. This book is a kind of pharmacopoeia of herbal teas. The variety of teas is going to amaze the reader and convince him/her to try one herbal tea at least.
The author has used a lucid language and has provided a list of herbal teas and their uses in a well-organised manner. A precise history of each herb is also one of its positive features. Moreover, the author has provided a caution in the beginning stating that herbs shouldn’t be used as substitutes for a healthy diet but as a complement to it, and they should never be used as substitutes for a doctor’s prescription. One of the main flaws of the book is its title. The title of the book doesn’t match its content since it doesn’t contain exact 20,000 secrets of tea. Further, the references are provided at the end of the book, however, no in-text sign/symbol/number is provided for it, thereby, making it seem the author’s own research while reading. Nonetheless, the book is beneficial for knowing about the world of herbal teas and their wonders. After all, there is a distinct pleasure in having a sip of rejuvenating tea-the second most consumed drink in the world-along with a book of teas. Let's appreciate the diversity and benefits of herbs which the Mother Nature has bestowed upon us. “Always remember those who work behind the scenes for your tea. If it were not for them, What would you be drinking at the moment?”(Lu Ann Pannunzio)
Arbeena is a graduate in Media Studies from University of Kashmir. She is a Freelance
Feature Writer and Film Reviewer. She can be reached at [email protected]
Kashmir Images is an English language daily newspaper published from Srinagar (J&K), India. The newspaper is one of the largest circulated English dailies of Kashmir and its hard copies reach every nook and corner of Kashmir Valley besides Jammu and Ladakh region.