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Culture: Drink up! says Carole Baker

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479436340 (3031356)

If you’re looking for a refreshing drink this summer, look no further. Carole Baker gives us the lowdown on drinks we can make at home. . . and they all have health benefits.

This month we look at alternative drinks to cool you down in the hot weather that all have health giving properties too and are cheap and easy to make at home. All can be made to drink hot or cold, just chill in the fridge for a while and add ice.

l With thanks to www.medicalmedium.com and thestayathomechef.com


Lemon balm looks quite like mint and grows as profusely, so keep it in a container.

Lemon balm tea has been called the ‘Elixir of Life’ due to its incredible antiviral, anti-bacterial, digestive and sedative properties. Incredibly, it also has high levels of antioxidants which substantially increases its ability to heal and work effectively.

Lemon balm contains a compound called terpene which has the ability to help relieve anxiety, stress, hypertension, depression, high blood pressure, muscle spasms, heart palpitations, and tension headaches.

It is said to also benefit chronic gastrointestinal disorders including indigestion, IBS, colitis and acid reflux.

It is also useful in treating insomnia, sleep disturbances and jittery nerves, allowing for a more relaxed body and better quality sleep. The polyphenol tannins contained in lemon balm give it its anti-viral properties making it particularly helpful in healing colds, flu, bronchitis and any viral infections.

Preparation: Use 2 teaspoons of fresh or dried herb to 16oz of

hot water. Allow to steep for at least 10 minutes. Stir in raw honey or a squeeze of fresh lemon if desired.


(blossom of the lime tree)

Linden flower tea has been used for centuries to help reduce anxiety, soothe the nerves and alleviate stress-related ailments such as irregular heartbeats, indigestion, hypertension and headaches. Linden flowers also have calming and sedative properties that can help prevent insomnia and produce a restful night’s sleep.

They are also said to have fever reducing properties which makes it an excellent remedy for colds, flu and respiratory infections.

It is also effective for digestive issues such as gastritis, dyspepsia, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis and gall bladder problems.

Linden tea has been shown to help lower blood pressure and works as a natural diuretic which can help with oedema, water retention, bloating, and swelling.

Preparation: Use 2 teaspoons of fresh or dried herb to 16oz of hot water. Allow to steep for at least 10 minutes. Stir in raw honey or a squeeze of fresh lemon if desired.

SPEARMINT TEA (use peppermint if you have this in the garden but spearmint is the most common one for sale)

Spearmint is a sweet, mild herb that is packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants such as vitamin A, C, B complex, beta carotene, iron, magnesium, calcium, manganese and potassium.

Spearmint is wonderful for digestive ailments such as nausea, indigestion, ulcers, halitosis and flatulence. It also aids in the digestion of fats, making it a wonderful natural remedy to drink at the end of a rich meal.

It can also provide relief from headaches, sinus congestion, sore throats, fatigue, stress and anxiety. Spearmint can also help to promote blood circulation and improve metabolism making it an excellent choice for cleansing and weight loss. It’s also beneficial for respiratory issues such as bronchitis, asthma and respiratory inflammation and is well known for its abilities to detox and cleanse the body of impurities.

Preparation: Use 2 teaspoons of fresh or dried herb to 16oz of hot water. Allow to steep for at least 10 minutes. Stir in raw honey or a squeeze of fresh lemon if desired.


Lemons are so refreshing in a drink but unfortunately commercial lemonade is so far removed from the proper home-made stuff it’s a shame. It’s usually full of way too much sugar or, just as bad, full of artificial sweeteners and flavourings. It always makes me laugh when I see the labels on lemonade bottles proudly saying ‘contains real lemons’ . . . fancy that!

Ingredients for syrup concentrate:

5lbs lemons

2 cups water

2 cups sugar


Cut lemons in half. Juice each lemon through a strainer into a large measuring cup. Keep juicing until you have 2 cups of lemon juice. (I quite like leaving the pulpy bits in and just taking the pips out)

Pour water into a medium-size saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in sugar. Continue cooking over heat until sugar is dissolved and liquid looks clear again.

Combine sugar solution with lemon juice. This is a lemonade concentrate. When ready to serve, add water to taste.


The lemonade concentrate can be frozen for later use in bags or in ice cube trays, maybe. When ready to serve, thaw and add water to taste.

For lemonade using honey in place of sugar, simply replace the sugar with 2 cups of honey.

For sugar-free lemonade, replace the sugar in this recipe with ¼ cup stevia powder.

HIBISCUS TEA (you can buy the dried flowers from health food shops or online)

Hibiscus tea is made from hibiscus flowers that are rich in anthocyanins, fruit acids, vitamins, minerals, amino acids and bioflavonoids. Hibiscus tea is excellent for boosting the immune system and fighting off infections.

Traditionally, hibiscus tea was regarded by the Egyptian pharaohs to be royalty’s most important beverage as it was known to improve health and vitality. The antioxidants found in hibiscus tea are often compared to those in red wine and have been noted for their positive effects on cardiac health.

Hibiscus tea also is known to help lower blood pressure, prevent bladder infections and relieve constipation.

It’s been used for centuries to support liver function and aid in liver disorders, such as fatty liver syndrome and jaundice.

Hibiscus tea can be consumed either hold or cold. Try adding some raw honey for a delicious and powerful immune strengthening drink.

Preparation: Use 2 teaspoons of fresh or dried herb to 16oz of hot water. Allow to steep for at least 10 minutes. Stir in raw honey or a squeeze of lemon if desired.

The suggestions in this article are the personal opinion of the author. Please do not take any new remedies if you are currently on any medication without the consent of your GP

Carole Baker is founder of The Self Centre, Bury St Edmunds


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