20,000 Secrets of Tea
By Victoria Zak
Tea in one form or another is a part of every culture on the planet. Even before written history, teas were used to heal aliments, attract a lover, or dispel 'demons'. The medical uses were not without merit, and many of today's medicines had their origins in simple infusions of leaves, roots, flowers, bark and hot water.
While this book does list herbs in connection with treating specific aliments, no one should use it as a substitute for professional medical care. However, it can be a useful guide to soothing and refreshing hot or cold drinks that can possibly alleviate some symptoms of what ails you.
Specific instructions are given for measuring and preparing tea, whether it is the familiar Camellia sinesis, historically said to have had its properties discovered in China around 2727 B.C., to familiar garden plants such as peppermint or echinacea.
The author urges newbies to start simple and proceed slowly. One type of tea, once a day is much better than several types of tea, ten times a day. Plain tea is better than teas mixed with processed sugar or artificial sweeteners. She also urges readers to take a break every week or so to encourage your own immune system to work properly. She lists cautions at the end of each herbal description and insists that reasons for not taking a specific tea are as important as those for doing so.
The bulk of this book is an extensive glossary of plants. Each plant is listed by all of its common names and its botanical name. Historical uses are listed along with known elements, such as whether it is a source for Omega 3's, minerals or vitamins. Established properties are also listed, such as fever reducer, anti-inflammatory or diuretic.
Each herb's beneficial part is noted so that harvesters know whether to use leaves, flowers, roots or stems. Any potential problems or reactions are listed and caution is urged when using a number of herbs. The author urges gardeners and harvesters to only use plants from trusted sources that haven't been contaminated by pesticides or chemicals. If unsure of a plant's purity, purchase tea from trusted retailers.
I didn't purchase this book to take the place of my family doctor, but I was curious about the many teas used throughout the ages and wanted to prepare my tea in a responsible and educated way. My herb garden is more for enjoyment than medicinal, but at least I'll understand why peppermint tea clears a stuffy head and lavender tea soothes a sore throat. It is a handy little book to have in my library.