Thyme Tea: The Benefits, History, Recipes, and Alternatives
Tea has always been an interesting drink because it can revitalize us and help us face the day after a long night's sleep. Tea comes in multiple forms that are derived from different grades of plants. Most tea is created with the leaves of Camellia sinensis, commonly known as the tea tree. Alternate herbs and plants are used to create tea, such as Clitoria ternatea and Chamaemelum nobile, but C. sinensis remains a common choice.
Regardless of the plant used to brew the initial drink, some people enhance their tea with additional herbs to maximize the health benefits. Some herbs yield effects that the drinker is specifically trying to cultivate, while others are designed to alter the flavor to suit their preferences better.
One of the herbs that have recently been popular among tea enthusiasts is thyme, which you have likely heard of already. Thyme is a popular herb and has been a part of modern cuisine for decades, but several people do not realize it offers benefits that can enhance our health. These benefits have made thyme more popular in many dishes and holistic drinks.
One of the less common uses of thyme relates to tea drinkers who want to enhance the holistic value of their drink. Thyme tea is not the most common variation of the drink, but it is gaining traction amongst health enthusiasts, which has led newer users to look into its use.
What is Thyme?
Thyme is a simple herb with multiple uses and is closely related to oregano because the Thymus genus is a relative of Origanum. While thyme is a broad term, multiple varieties have different characteristics and compositions. The most commonly cultivated type of thyme is Thymus vulgaris, but several other species can be consumed.
Thyme is indigenous to the Mediterranean region and was allegedly first cultivated in the Levant, a historical region of the Mediterranean. At one point, thyme was used by ancient Egyptians in their embalming rituals, and the ancient Greeks used it in baths and incense as a source of courage. Thyme later spread through Europe due to Roman influence, who used thyme to purify rooms and add an extra layer of flavor to cheese and liqueurs.
Once established in Europe, thyme was used in the Middle Ages as a nightmare repellant when placed under pillows. Women also gave thyme to knights-errant to give them courage while on their quests. Thyme also became a common part of funerary rituals when it was used in incense to help the decedents' spirits find their way to the next life.
Thyme has been used in multiple cultures worldwide and remains one of the most commonly used herbs. Modern society has since done away with most of the spiritual uses of thyme, though some cultures and religions continue the practices. Nowadays, thyme is primarily used in the kitchen to season food and drinks for flavor.
This use is not exclusive to modern society since the Romans used it to season cheese and alcohol, but many Arabic cultures in the Levant created a condiment called za'atar. The French also used thyme to create herbes de Provence, a mix of herbs native to Provence, France.
The number of cultures that had access to thyme throughout history allowed its use to evolve throughout thousands of years. Thyme was first discovered in 2750 B.C., meaning we have been using it for 4,470 years. While some cultures have specialized recipes that include thyme as a seasoning or ingredient, many modern recipes use it as a simple addition to roast chicken or other dishes.
While thyme is used for cooking food, it has also been used to season and flavor certain beverages. One of the less discussed uses of thyme is the creation of certain teas, which might be a shock to those who only use thyme in savory recipes. However, thyme can be added to a cup of your favorite tea so you can enjoy its flavor and effects while reaping the benefits of your tea.
How to Make Thyme Tea
Thyme tea is relatively easy to make if you have a history of steeping tea in the morning. Whether you make your tea from scratch or use pre-packaged blends, adding thyme to your cup is not difficult. If you are not well-versed in making tea from scratch, you might be interested in a recipe for thyme tea that will give you full access to its benefits.
Fortunately, renowned culinary expert Martha Stewart recognized the benefits of thyme tea and created a recipe for her fans to use. While you are welcome to visit Ms. Stewart's website for the recipe, we are reiterating it here for convenience.
The first thing you will need to do is gather the following ingredients:
- 3 cups water
- 8-10 thin sprigs of thyme
- ½ teaspoon whole coriander seeds (crushed)
- ½ teaspoon whole fennel seeds (crushed)
Once you have the ingredients, you will need to follow these instructions to steep your tea:
- Bring the 3 cups of water to a boil and add the thyme, coriander, and fennel. Allow the herb and seeds to steep for 10 minutes in the boiling water.
- Strain the mixture through a fine sieve and serve warm or cold (note that the leftover tea can be refrigerated for up to 1 day before expiring).
As you can see, Stewart's recipe for thyme tea is simple and only requires a few ingredients to make, meaning you can easily enjoy a cup. That said, you do not necessarily have to steep the tea from scratch to add thyme to it. Adding thyme to premade tea is possible so you can get instant gratification and not have to worry about gathering all the ingredients.
Nevertheless, hardcore enthusiasts or people with cultural connections to tea might prefer steeping it from scratch. The main advantage of making it from scratch is that you control every herb that goes into the drink. This level of control might not be necessary, but it can make you more comfortable if you are particular about what you eat or drink.
Knowing how to make thyme tea is important, but another detail is likely more significant to you. Thyme might be an excellent addition to your tea, but the biggest question is about the benefits thyme offers.
Benefits of Thyme
Thyme might primarily be used as a seasoning for food, but it has several nutrients in its composition that make it remarkably beneficial. Believe it or not, when consumed properly, thyme can benefit your health and appearance. Some varieties of thyme are more effective than others for certain issues, but the herb possesses qualities that make it incredibly valuable.
One of thyme's lesser-known benefits pertains to a blemish that almost everyone endures at some point: acne. Acne has been the bane of teenagers for decades since it directly affects our appearance in a decidedly unsubtle way. Acne cysts are usually bright red or white, making it difficult to hide them when they appear, but thyme has properties that can mitigate the effects.
Multiple acne remedies are on the market, but most include heavy-duty chemicals that can be harsh on delicate complexions. Fortunately, thyme has proven antibacterial properties, which makes it a valuable weapon against bacterially induced acne breakouts. A study from 2010 discovered that essential oils from thyme could inhibit the colonization of Propionibacterium acnes, one of the main bacteria that induce acne by colonizing skin pores. While more studies are needed, the current research indicates thyme can prevent P. acnes from successfully colonizing your skin.
Another benefit of thyme relates to coughing, which is not inherently problematic unless it is a symptom of a larger health issue. Tea is often used as a home remedy for sore throats and coughing fits when combined with honey. According to a study from 2006, adding thyme can reinforce this effect. The study determined that thyme could alleviate coughing and other symptoms in patients with acute bronchitis.
Additionally, a study from 2018 discovered that thyme could reduce inflammation and mucous. While the latter study used animals for the test, the results are likely applicable to humans, and thyme could be a beneficial resource if you are experiencing frequent coughing fits.
In addition to preventing bacterial colonization and reducing inflammation, thyme affects one of the most important parts of human biology: the immune system. The human immune system is a biological marvel that helps defend us from infection and disease by controlling our blood cells. A healthy individual can resist diseases and recover from illnesses without much trouble through their immune system.
People with weaker immune systems are more susceptible since the body lacks the resources and strength to fight the microbes and viruses that might infect them effectively. Bolstering the human immune system can be challenging since biological variance puts some people at a greater disadvantage than others.
One of the main ways we enhance our immune system is by increasing our intake of nutrients that impact our immune development. Our bodies need various vitamins and minerals to maintain a healthy immune system, and several foods contain at least 1 or 2. The beauty of thyme is that it contains several essential vitamins and minerals to promote our immune system. These include:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
All these nutrients play a role in immune development, and deficiencies in any of them can reduce our immune system's efficacy. Consuming thyme provides a source for all of them so that you can supplement your body's natural concentrations. Unfortunately, thyme only has a small amount of each of these substances, as 1 teaspoon of thyme only has 1.28 milligrams of vitamin C. Therefore, thyme should be used as a secondary supplement rather than a first resort.
Alternatives to Thyme
Thyme has a significant place in cuisine and health since it is a healthy herb that can be added to several dishes and drinks. Unfortunately, the health value of thyme is limited by physical handicaps in its composition. If you want a more potent supplement, you might need to focus on a different aspect of your tea rather than what you add to it.
One of the best alternatives to thyme tea is a healthy tea blend that uses leaves from plants like C. sinensis. The nutritional value of most tea leaves exceeds the additional nutrients offered by thyme by a wide margin. Finding a decent tea blend can offer greater benefits for your health than thyme, though adding thyme could mildly enhance the blend's effects.
Green tea, matcha, and butterfly pea tea have similar benefits for your health and appearance, with a higher success rate than thyme. Therefore, opting for a blend using these varieties could yield more reliable results. The challenge is finding a blend optimized to yield the best results by combining the healthiest tea varieties.
Finding the Right Blend
Thyme tea can be a healthy addition to your diet, though thyme is unlikely to yield significant results by itself. Ultimately, the tea blend you use to make your drink will be more important to creating a healthy drink than what you add. Therefore, your best bet is to acquire a tea blend using leaves from plants like C. sinensis or C. ternatea.
You can still add thyme to alter the flavor and add a few extra nutrients to your drink but do not rely on the herb to do the heavy lifting. The biggest challenge will be acquiring a reliable blend from a reliable vendor to get the most out of your drink.
We at Teami have always believed that the best solutions have the most natural ingredients, even tea. We have dedicated ourselves to creating products that enhance health and appearance without relying on heavy chemicals. We offer several varieties of tea that use leaves from multiple plants to create the healthiest blends. Our tea is compatible with thyme but does not include any (though you are welcome to add some if you choose). We encourage you to visit our website and personally try one of our blends. After all, finding the right blend is a Teami effort.
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