My journey to motherhood came with lots of worry, unanswered questions, AND hope. Little did I know that this journey would continuously bring me back to drinking tea.
My mother died while I was in elementary school, well before my husband and I decided to embark upon the parenthood journey. I knew that it might be difficult to conceive as I have aunts who tried to conceive, but were not able to. I also never really had consistent cycles and had been recently diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
PCOS is a condition that affects the hormonal levels of women. Many women with PCOS produce more insulin that the body can use. This overproduction also causes an increase in androgen (male hormone) which causes an overproduction of cysts, irregular cycles, facial hair, anxiety, and many other symptoms. This condition affects approximately 8% of African American women. I was informed by my doctor (at the time) that conceiving was going to be a challenge because of the irregular cycles and other effects of PCOS.
All of this left me worrying about what to do, how to do it, and whether or not our dream would ever become a reality. But then, I remembered how my mother would use herbs, fruits, vegetables, and home-made juices to help her fight breast cancer. So, I decided to check out my local health food store to see what else I could learn about natural ways of remedying my mind and body so that I could conceive.
While at the health food store, I learned about herbal tea and how it might be able to help me conceive using the triad approach, as I call it. I learned about the healing properties of damiana, chamomile, and red raspberry leaf. The owner (an black woman) helped me create a schedule that included drinking one of the teas at least once a day for a month. This helped me to regulate my cycle, calm my mind, and increase my sex drive. With the triad in hand, I was super focused and mentally ready to conceive. I also consumed a vegetarian diet, exercised regularly, and maintained my mental wellness during this time. Talk about being in peak condition.
After a few months, my husband and I were pleasantly surprised when we learned about our eldest son’s anticipated debut. It was a joy I still cannot put into words eleven years later. I am not sure if the herbs helped or my sheer focus on achieving the task, but I do know my ancestors and God played a part.
From that September moment, I was a firm believer in herbal medicine and the use of teas. Over time, I have expanded my love of tea to other varieties like black, white, and green teas, but my first love is and will forever be tisanes (aka herbal tea).
Side note: If you are trying to conceive, please consult with your gynecologist, Reproductive endocrinologist, and/or wholistic doctor. Please do not use my story as advice to simply take and apply.
Now, all tea is not made the same, does not derive from the same parts of the plant, or is harvested the same way. Let’s get into the history and benefits of tea. It’s no secret, a cup of tea comes with many benefits.
Did you know that tea is the second most consumed beverage and comes from the camellia sinensis plant? Actually, tea is the leaves, stems, and/or buds of the camellia sinensis plant, an evergreen shrub that grows in places like China, India, Kenya, and even South Carolina, USA. Tea is full of polyphenols (antioxidants) which may help reduce the risk of certain diseases. It is said to help reduce heart disease, lower the risk of diabetes, and propel the regulation of the digestive system. It also has L-Thelanine, an amino acid that aids in mood balance. Now, let’s be clear I am referring to teas such as black tea, white tea, green tea, pu-erh, and oolong teas. Herbal teas do not derive from the camellia sinensis plant. Therefore, herbal teas are technically called tisanes. There are a multitude of tisanes and the healing properties are countless. In many cultures, tisanes are used as a replacement of traditional medicine and/or in conjunction with medicine. If you are thinking of adding herbal teas to your regime, be sure to check with your wholistic doctor or someone who is quite familiar with tisanes, the effects of the specific tisane of interest, and possible combinations that can be created or avoided.
History of Tea
Many, many centuries ago, legend says an emperor named Shen Nung was resting under the shade of a tree boiling some drinking water when the breeze blew the leaves from the camellia sinensis plant into the pot of water. This gave the water a different taste. After several experiments with the plant, learning about its healing properties, and the delightful taste, this new discovery started to be enjoyed by many and has grown into the second most consumed beverage in the world.
The type of tea has expanded as well as the way it is harvested. Below, I will share a very brief overview of the different types of teas and a few purported health benefits.
Green Tea Early Facts
Green tea is considered the purest form of tea and is not oxidized. Thus, the color green. Once picked, the tea is placed in boiling water to prevent it from oxidizing. This also helps it keep the green color you see when beginning to prepare your tea for steeping. Green tea has less caffeine than black tea and is known to improve brain function, aid in weight loss, and reduce the risk of heart disease. Some popular varieties of green tea are Sencha, Gunpowder, and Moroccan Mint. Perfect Pear, one of our inaugural tea blends is a mixture of white and green tea.
White Tea Early Facts
White tea is less oxidized as is considered one of the rawest forms of tea. The leaves, stems, and buds are harvested early in the growth process when they still appear white (hence the name). After harvesting white tea, it is quickly dried so that the oxidation process does not fully start thus rendering a much lighter and delicate flavor.
White tea has l-theanine, a calming amino acid that helps to promote a relaxed, alert and focused state. White peony is a very popular white tea variety. Perfect Pear, one of our inaugural tea blends is a mixture of white and green tea.
Black Tea Early Facts
Black tea is fully oxidized and has the highest levels of caffeine. Oxidation simply means the tea has been exposed to the air and dried (by the sun, steamed, baked, and fire roasted are a few ways this occurs) after it has gone through an initiation process of steaming, shaking, and/or rolling the leaves. Watch this video if you are interested in learning more about oxidation.
Black tea is the most consumed type of tea in America. It is often referred to as sweet and/or iced tea. When Europeans learned of this tea, they saw the dark hue of the leaves and called it black tea even though the Chinese had already named the tea “red tea” due to the hue of the water once the tea has been steeped. Black tea is rightfully still called “red tea” in China as there is also a Chinese variety that is called “black tea.” Some examples of popular black teas are Early Gray, Darjeeling, and Breakfast Teas. Chocolate Midnight, one of our inaugural black teas is a black tea infused with chocolate and is great with a bit of whip cream as a dessert or by itself with a splash of sweetener.
Herbal teas are actually not tea. They are technically called tisanes as they do not contain the camellia sinensis plant parts. This also makes these teas caffeine free. Tisanes are made from a variety of medicinal plants, herbs, and shrubs and are mostly used for healing properties. A few popular varieties of herbal teas are peppermint, ginger, chamomile, and lavender. The benefits of tisanes are vast and depend on the actual herb being used. It is best to research the type of herb to learn about the benefits.
Rooibos is a tisane and comes from the rooibos plant. This herbal infusion also known as “African red tea” only grows in South Africa and has a slightly sweet taste. A little secret…this is my favorite tea of all time! Rooibos is caffeine free and has a similar taste to red tea (aka “black tea” after being renamed by Europeans). Our Apple Cinnamon tea is a rooibos infused with cinnamon and vanilla with bits of apple. It is the perfect fall tea and will be available during the autumn months.
Other Tea Types
There are many varieties of tea today. Some have been around since early discovery while others are newer. Pu-erh tea is a post-fermented tea and is also a type of black tea. Oolong tea is semi-oxidized and is known for its curvy black-colored, dragon like appearance. There is also purple tea which is relatively new and originated in Kenya (which we have yet to try, but will very soon)!
If you are interested in learning more facts about teas, check out this graphic with many cool facts like 159 million Americans drink tea each day! (Whaaatttt?????!!!) That’s a lot of people!
Tea has its benefits and for me, it helps ground me. The warmth from the cup in my hands reminds me I am just where I need to be. When I decided to start Mothering Tea (click to see what is in the shop), I was going through a whirlwind along with so many other moms. I was lost within myself and could not find my bearing. After pausing and thinking for a few days about times when I felt most secure, focused and mentally fit, I was reminded of my journey into motherhood. Tea helped me to find my footing. So, I decided to give it a whirl again and here we are. I pray you enjoy tea just as much as I do.
I cannot wait to share more about it in the coming days. In the meantime, take care of yourself, get some rest, journal, and do the internal work so your outside will always match our inside.
Peace and love!