Bay leaf tea is fast becoming a popular tea throughout the world; you may ask, why is that inedible leaf from all my favorite dishes being used for tea? Look no further, because the answers are here.
The answer is pretty simple: bay leaf tea has not only a unique taste but numerous amazing health benefits, as well. One of my favorite things is to smell the fresh aroma of the bay leaf; it is a lovely sensation that never fails to stir something in me. It only makes sense that such a pleasant aroma carries with it so many health advantages. To start understanding why, it is necessary to first look at the key ingredient in bay leaf tea, which is of course the humble bay leaf.
What is the Bay Leaf and Where Does it Come From?
The bay leaf is an aromatic leaf used primarily for cooking. It can be used in ground form or whole. The leaf is known to emanate from several different plants, like the following:
The California bay leaf whose botanical name is Umbellularia California, Lauraceae was commonly known as California laurel or pepperwood. It is very similar in nature to that of the Mediterranean bay but has a stronger flavor.
There’s also the bay laurel whose botanical name is Laurus nobilis, Lauraceae.
The Indian bay leaf is commonly known as malabathrum and bears the botanical name Cinnamomum Tamala, Lauraceae.
The Mexican bay leaf with the botanical name litsea glaucescens Lauraceae.
There’s also the West Indian bay leaf which is a leaf of the West Indian bay tree.
In its ground or crushed form, the bay leaf is used for cooking. Crushed bay leaf usually has more fragrance compared to that of whole leaves but are pretty difficult to remove, so most people use crushed bay leaf in a tea infuser.
Ground bay laurel, on the other hand, can be substituted for whole leaves. They don’t need to be removed and are also much stronger.
In the Caribbean islands, bay leaves are used in the making of jerky chicken by soaking the bay leaves and placing them on the cool side of the grill.
Bay leaves help make jerk chicken by placing pimento sticks on top of the leaves and then the chicken on top of that. Because of its spicy smell, bay leaf can be scattered and used as a repellent for flies, cockroaches, and meal moths.
How to Prepare the Bay Leaf Tea
One of the most potent ways of enjoying the bay leaf is making tea out of it. The health benefits you get from doing this are pretty amazing. Preparing this tea is just like preparing any other tea. As long as you have the bay leaf and water (which are the main properties of the bay leaf tea) then you are good to go.
It is said that a hot cup of bay leaf tea is more like aromatherapy. The fragrant leaves aid in spicing the tea and give you a taste that leaves you wanting more. To prepare the tea, you will need the following bay leaf ingredient.
- 2 large bay leaves
- 2 cups of water
- Sugar and milk (not required)
First, carefully add the bay leaf to a pot and pour water into it. Allow boiling for at least three minutes over high heat.
Remove the pot from the tea and allow the tea to steep for a little while (like 4 minutes), strain and drink. You can choose to add sugar and milk, but beware that too much can alter the flavor of the tea.
Note: There’s also cinnamon and bay leaf tea which is just another way of enjoying this amazing tea. To prepare, just add a cinnamon stick to the bay leaf and boil together. For those looking forward to shedding that extra kilo, cinnamon in bay leaf tea is a wonderful way to lose weight.
Without the addition of milk and sugar, the taste of the bay leaf tea usually ranges from a pungent, sharp taste to a bitter taste with a nice smell. If you don’t like the bitter taste, you can add milk and dilute the taste of the tea. The addition of milk and sugar also brings out a more floral taste.
Health Benefit of the Bay Leaf Tea
The bay leaf tea has a whole range of health benefits. Let’s look at some of them!
A cup of bay leaf tea has a strong effect on the gastrointestinal system; it reduces the level of toxicity in the body and acts as a substance that causes vomiting when something toxic has entered into the body.
It may also interest you to know that the organic compound build-up found in bay leaves are also potent in settling serious cases of stomach upset and irritable bowel syndrome.
Sometimes our bodies find it difficult to digest some of the complex protein found in our diet; the bay leaf has some distinctive enzymes that can effectively act as a catalyst to facilitate such digestion.
Perfect for insomnia
Bay leaf, the major component of the bay leaf tea, has sedative properties that help with insomnia.
Promotes a healthy heart
The bay leaf tea has phytochemicals that protect the heart against diseases like heart attack and stroke. It also has caffeic acids that improve the functionality of the heart; it also has rutin, which strengthens the capillary walls of the heart. Boiling the bay leaf with water and drinking can help prevent heart disease.
You might not know it, but the bay leaf tea contains linalool which is commonly associated with oregano and thyme. It is also known for having a relaxing effect that helps reduce stress levels, especially when used in aromatherapy.
It’s a good idea to adopt the habit of taking a cup of bay leaf tea to calm down when feeling stressed.
Helps in treating diabetes
The bay leaf has the tendency to reduce levels of cholesterol and glucose in the blood. Polyphenol also happens to be the most effective component in the bay leaf tea for diabetes as it helps to control glucose in the blood.
A cup of bay leaf tea, therefore, is very potent in managing type 2 diabetes. More so the antioxidants in the leaf also help insulin to function effectively and efficiently.
Bay leaf contains a combination of antioxidants and organic compounds, as well as catechins, Linalool and phytonutrients that help fight off free radicals.
Potent pain reliever
A cup of bay leaf tea is quite effective in alleviating the pain of sprain strain and arthritis and it also helps in fighting inflammation. It is an amazing way to cure headaches and migraines. It also helps in increasing blood circulation.
Strengthens the immune system
Bay leaf contains vitamins A and C and also zinc, which helps to strengthen the immune system. They also increase the ability of the white blood cells to fight off invaders.
Bay Leaf Tea Side Effects
The bay leaf does indeed have some amazing health benefits no doubt, but there are some side effects to be aware of.
Here are some of the side effects of consuming bay leaf tea.
Blood sugar control
Although consuming bay leaf tea helps in lowering blood sugar levels, there have been complaints of the leaf doing otherwise. Consult your doctor if you are already on medications for high blood sugar issues.
Pregnancy and most likely breastfeeding
There isn’t much thorough research on how bay leaf tea affects pregnancy, but as they say, prevention is better than the cure. Please be on the safe side and avoid consuming the bay leaf tea when you are pregnant.
The bay leaf tends to slow down the central nervous system, meaning that problems can arise during surgery when anesthesia is administered. It is therefore advisable to avoid consuming the bay leaf tea for a couple of weeks before undergoing surgery.
The bay leaf is a household item with numerous health benefits. There are tons of arguments for its usefulness; this, coupled with the incredible ease of preparation, makes it a great habit to get into. Make a piping hot cup of bay leaf today and start feeling those effects!