Across the globe more people are recognizing the value of locally grown products, and the Cayman Islands are definitely a part of that growing movement. For seaside restaurant The Greenhouse Café in George Town, local products are an essential component for most of the menu. One particular item that strongly supports this trend is their iced tea, some of which are made from the leaves of plants and herbs that are found in the garden of James Pedley, owner of Totally Fresh Cayman.
James quickly recognised the health benefits he experienced from the teas grown in his own backyard and became interested in supplying local shops and restaurant. “I started growing large amounts of basil, mint, and lemongrass in my garden, and using the buds or other parts that I pruned to make tea,” he says.
“I realized that aside from their great taste and mentally soothing effects, the more I drank these three teas in particular, I began to feel an increase in my metabolism, immune system and stamina,” he continues. “So I researched them more thoroughly and decided I would become a full-time supplier of teas.”
Consumed for thousands of years in many nations around the world, tea provides a wealth of medicinal benefits to our bodies which have been proven in countless studies. This power drink has been known to help maintain a healthy weight, reduce stress levels, fight diabetes and even improve heart function. Certain teas are also thought to ease headaches, soothe indigestion and boost mental focus.
Starting a garden of plants suitable for making tea is fairly simple, and the plants make beautiful additions to any backyard. In fact, you may be surprised to learn that many plants you may already have growing in your backyard can be brewed into potent infusions. In the Cayman Islands, these are referred to as bush teas. James himself came across a moringa tree growing in his own yard and reckons his grandfather must have planted it there as the property once belonged to him.
Here are a few bush teas worth sipping:
Moringa tea is best for reducing high cholesterol; easing acid reflux; promoting mental and emotional well-being; and managing diabetes, hypertension, arthritis and osteoporosis.
Lemongrass is commonly used for curing fevers, clearing infections, aiding digestion, improving blood circulation, supporting joints, eliminating uric acid, reducing bad cholesterol and acting as an anti-depressant. The essential oil found in lemongrass – citral – is also being extensively studied for its use in the destruction of cancer cells; and the leaves themselves can be crushed and rubbed on the skin for a natural insect repellent.
Lime leaf tea is stimulating and uplifting. The leaves relieve fatigue and improve mental clarity, and the essential oil is said to be an anti-depressant.
The leaves of mint bush make a tea that is good for soothing an upset stomach and relieving cough and cold symptoms, a sore throat, the hiccups and migraine headaches. It is also used to boost mental focus, eliminate toxins and cleanse the blood, as well as to ease sore muscles and morning sickness.
Ginger tea is commonly used for curing ailments of the stomach, including nausea, motion sickness, loss of appetite and stomach cramps. It is also useful for improving blood circulation and alleviating joint pains and arthritis.
Sour sop tea is used throughout the Caribbean for inducing a sense of calmness and aiding in sleep. Some islanders also use it for bladder problems, cough and indigestion.
The leaves and buds of all types of basil plants can be boiled to make a tea that alleviates nausea and vomiting.
Try Cayman Honey as a healthy alternative to sugar in your tea. This sweet treat is locally produced by Savannah resident Otto Watler, who has made bees his business for more than 30 years. The bees from Otto’s honey farm feed on the rich flavours of the guinep (Spanish lime), red birch and log wood trees in his yard, producing a very distinctive tasting honey. Look for it on store shelves at any of the major supermarkets, or stop by the honey farm in Savannah, Grand Cayman to pick up a bottle.
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Published: Skies Magazine, March 2014