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A cooler and wiser iced tea

sage tea bags

sage iced-tea-cubes

Tea and coffee are easy ways to engage and embrace a foreign culture. I’ve always found that when invited for one or the other, I’m able to snatch a vivid glimpse into what’s more than just a caffeine fix. For example, in India, being offered a short cup of sweet-spicy-milky tea in the late afternoon, with the sun belting down and the temperature well over 90, made me begin to understand how spices and hot drinks can be medicinal and cooling in the heat, as opposed to heating.

A few years ago I was scuba diving in the Sinai Peninsula in the summer. It was hot, windy and next to impossible to cool down except for when we were in the water. Not only did I not want to eat, but I found that the only thing I really wanted to drink was the sage tea the local beach restaurants offered. In the Middle East they make a hot tea out of black tea and dried sage leaves. Sage is a natural coolant and has been used for centuries to help regulate body temperature and help with hydration and aid in digestion. As sage is also known to ward off evil spirits, negative and stale energy, I just assumed that drinking or burning it would have similar effects. So I asked. It seems that the gentlemen traveling the dessert DID actually use the sage tea as a sort of protective shield against evil spirits there. Interesting.

The healing properties of this leaf run deep and I have become, as I do, fascinated by this. Not only can gargling with sage infusion (perhaps adding some apple cider vinegar as well) help sore throat, mouth ulcers and halitosis but drinking a strong infusion on a regular basis can actually help to alleviate anxiety and depression, and can sharpen memory. I’d suggest potting a plant right away and starting to reap the benefits.

sage tea bags

cotton tea bags filled with sage tea leaves

A few interesting uses of sage:

I know that this alone is going to get at least half the population growing sage plants: massaging sage oil into the skin can work to reduce cellulite. Drinking the tea helps to break down fat cells, because of its antimicrobial and diuretic properties. This would logically work on the lymphatic system as well, which would in turn aid in cellulite reduction.

The leaves aid in digestion, hence many heavier foods are traditionally cooked with these. And the herb truly can alleviate stomach ailments and cramps.

Natural antimicrobial – make a compress and use as an antiseptic on cuts or wounds, or even as a replacement for skin toner. I tried putting the compress in the fridge for a while and then on my forehead. It made a scrumptious-smelling coolant for the afternoon heat.  Apparently, sage can also help with migraines. I will have to try this one next time.

English Breakfast iced tea with sage ice tea cubes and a splash of vanilla nut milk

English Breakfast Iced tea with Sage Tea Ice Cubes

3 bags of English Breakfast Tea (or any black tea)
2 oz. dried sage leaves (I like to put them in tea bags)
2 Qt water (or more, depending on how much tea and how big your pitchers are)

Boil water and place the bags in 2 separate pots or mason jars.
Pour the water over the bags and let steep for at least an hour.
I like a very strong brew for ice tea and especially for ice tea cubes.
The sage can brew for up to 3 hours without getting bitter.

Remove the bags and let cool.

When the tea has cooled, fill ice cube trays with the sage brew and freeze.

Serve the black tea with a large handful of sage ice cubes.

Other ideas for serving:

Try with a splash of nut milk and a pinch of vanilla and put all of it in the blender for a frothy “sage tea shake.”