~The Flavor of Black Tea without the Caffeine
plus 5 Recipes for your Favorite Tea Blends~
Have you been told to cut back on caffeine? Or maybe you would just like to enjoy a cup of your favorite tea before bedtime without ending up wired for sound? Well, NOW you can do it.
I am going to share with you MY secret for getting all the flavor of black tea (Camellia sinensis) without caffeine! I use Red Raspberry Leaves (Rubus idaeus). Yes, that’s right. Those little berries growing in your back yard right now also have leaves that you can use! Full-bodied, like a fine black tea, you will enjoy drinking it straight up like your Lipton’s or PG brands. Or use one of our recipes below to enjoy it in your favorite blends!
Not only does red raspberry leaf tea taste good, but it is good for you. The natural nutrients in red raspberry leaves have antioxidant effects and help relax blood vessels. They also cause muscles to contract or relax, depending on the dose and the muscle involved. This is the theory behind red raspberry’s use in easing labor and delivery. AND in my research, I have not found any information for negative interactions between red raspberry leaves and other medications, either pharmaceutical or otherwise.
Red raspberry leaf is rich in potassium (441 ppm), calcium (121 ppm) and magnesium (93 ppm), it is also rich in all important trace minerals such as manganese (.52 ppm), zinc (.35 ppm), iron (.04 ppm) and chromium (.02 ppm). (ppm=parts per million) Red raspberry leaves also have a great content of vitamin C, E, A and B complex. Containing a high concentration of tannins, they are known for their astringent properties and can be used as an antiseptic. A strong raspberry leaf tea compress or spray will sooth sunburn, eczema, and rashes when used externally. The high concentration of Vitamin C in Raspberry Leaf makes it great during illness.
Where to Find Red Raspberry Leaves
The most common way to consume raspberry leaves is to make a red raspberry leaf tea; although, those of us who love our green smoothies, can easily add fresh (or frozen) raspberry leaves. In the Spring I go out and pick off my own raspberry leaves.
- You can harvest any wild or domestic version whose berries are suitable for eating. Make sure they have not been sprayed by man or animals.
- It is best to take leaves from green vines vs the reddish/brownish ones because the green vine is new growth but both will work.
- Raspberry leaves gathered in spring before the plant flowers have the highest antioxidant content.
- I pick fresh and immediately dry them. Do not allow them to sit around and wilt or half-dry as these are not considered healthy.
- In my dehydrator I dry at 95°F/35°C for a few hours until they are moisture-free.
- For more drying options, see Drying Methods for Herbs & Spices.
In the winter, I purchase organic raspberry leaf from Mountain Rose Herbs, as theirs is extremely high quality. It comes as a dried, cut herb and can be easily made into tea. You can also find red raspberry leaves or tea mix at a lot of health foods stores and grocery stores like Whole Foods. On Amazon, I get these organic leaves.
The medium-sized tea bags I use are the Disposable Drawstring Seal Filter Empty Paper Tea Bags as I find these easiest to work with.
Antioxidant Activity in Fruits and Leaves of Blackberry, Raspberry, and Strawberry Varies with Cultivar and Developmental Stage, Shiow Y. Wang and Hsin-Shan Lin, J. Agric. Food Chem., 2000, 48 (2), pp 140–146.
The bioactive potential of red raspberry (Rubus idaeus L.) leaves in exhibiting cytotoxic and cytoprotective activity on human laryngeal carcinoma and colon adenocarcinoma. Durgo K, Belščak-Cvitanović A, Stančić A, Franekić J, Komes D. J Med Food. 2012 Mar;15(3):258-68. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2011.0087. Epub 2011 Nov 14.
NOTE: This article is not intended to replace the advice of a qualified healthcare practitioner. All information contained in this article is the opinion of Colleen E. Bohrer and is not to be interpreted as medical advice. No medical questions please.
To make any of the below teas with the traditional Black Tea, simply substitute black tea leaves measure for measure.
How to Make a Perfect Cup of Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
1 packed tablespoon dried raspberry leaves
1 cup boiling water
- Boil water and measure out 1 cup.
- Combine raspberry leaves and lemongrass in a mug rinsed with hot water. Pour water over the tea leaves.
- Steep, covered, for at least 10 minutes and drink as regular tea.
NOTE: Keep a gallon of cold raspberry leaf tea in the fridge so that you don’t have to brew by the cup.
To make a gallon of iced tea:
- Measure 3/4 to 1 cup of Raspberry Leaves per gallon of boiling water. If you are adding lemongrass, lemon balm, lemon mint, or mint, add 1/4 cup to the tea at this time.
- Pour the herbs and boiling water into a gallon glass jar, cover with a plate or plastic wrap and leave, refrigerated, overnight before straining for a strong tea.
NOTE: Lemon, sweetener, or milk can be added if desired to help liven the flavor a bit just as you do your black tea. Try your own dried mint, lemon grass, lemon balm leaves, or lemon mint leaves as well.
Orange Spice Tea (Constant Comment)
Makes 1 quart+
Constant Comment Orange-Spice tea is Bigelow’s most popular tea. This homemade recipe allows you to adjust the amount of orange and spice to suit your own taste.
4 cups water
1 tablespoon red raspberry leaves
1 tablespoon orange marmalade, plus extra to taste
(or you can use dried, grated orange peels)
5 whole cloves
1 whole cinnamon stick
- Bring the water to a rolling boil.
- Place a tablespoon of red raspberry leaves in the bottom of a warmed teapot, with one cinnamon stick and 5 whole cloves which have been bruised or cracked. Add 1/2 to one tablespoon of orange marmalade.
- Fill the teapot with boiling water, cover, and allow to steep for up to 5 minutes. Strain into cups and enjoy.
NOTE: Using the same tea leaves and spices, but adding up to 1 tablespoon orange marmalade each time, you can get 2 or even 3 teapots of orange spice tea.
Earl Grey Tea
Makes about 32 teabags
True bergamot citrus (citrus bergamia risso) is likely a derivation of a sour orange, thus the intense acidity. The rind contains intensely flavored oils that have an elusive, yet slightly mesmerizing quality. And if you’ve wondered what that unusual ingredient in your cup of Earl Grey tea was, that’s bergamot essential oil.
Grown primarily in southern Italy, bergamot citrus is about the size of a small orange and is yellow when ripe. It’s primarily used for its peel, from which an oil is extracted for teas, candies, and liqueur as well as perfume. Although the fruit is considered to be inedible, it can be used to make marmalade. There is a green, leafy herb that is also called bergamot but it is not the same thing.
This is a simple way to make your own earl grey tea. By buying high quality ingredients and being able to choose the strength of your bergamot flavor, you’ll be able to create your favorite earl grey tea.
1 cup of red raspberry leaves
5 -20 drops of bergamot essential oil (depending on your tastes)
- Pour 10 -15 drops of the bergamot essential oil into a pint jar. Put a lid on the jar and shake well to distribute the oil onto the walls of the jar.
- Pour in the tea leaves. Shake well for several minutes. Cap tightly and store away from heat and light. Use within six months for maximum flavor.
- This tea blend can be used immediately but it is better if allowed to cure for a few days to let the essential oils absorb.
To make a cup of tea:
Use a heaping teaspoon of tea blend per cup of water. Steep COVERED for 3-5 minutes. Strain the tea and add your favorite sweeteners, etc.
To make Lady Grey Tea:
Add a small strip of dried lemon peel and a few pinches of dried lavender.
Chai Tea Blend
Makes about 12-to 16 teabags
The recipe below makes enough Chai to fit into a 1/2 pint canning jar and is easily multiplied out for larger batches. You can also use small bags or make your own from scraps of muslin/unbleached cotton cloth.
12 green cardamom pods
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
1 (4-inch) cinnamon stick
3 tablespoons chopped, dried ginger OR Candied Ginger
1/2 cup red raspberry leaves
- With a sharp knife, split the cardamom pods in half.
- Place in a dry skillet along with the peppercorns, fennel, coriander, cloves and cinnamon. Toast for about 5 minutes, or until the spices are fragrant. Remove and cool.
- Crush spices lightly with a rolling pin or in a mortar and pestle. You may have to crumble the cinnamon stick with your hands.
- In a bowl, toss the spices, ginger, and tea together until blended.
- Spoon into your container of choice (mason jar, cello or parchment or waxed paper bags, vintage tea tin, etc.). Include fillable tea bags and brewing instructions. Alternatively, you can fill each tea bag with approximately 1 tablespoon of the chai mix and tie it loosely to close.
Brewing Instructions-Tea for One
1 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon Chai Mix placed into a tea bag
Sugar or honey to taste, if desired
- Bring the water to a boil and add the tea bag.
- Turn off the heat and let steep for about 5 minutes.
- Add the milk, turn on the flame and reheat until hot.
- Remove from heat, discard teabag, sweeten to taste if desired.
NOTE: To drink cold, reduce the amount of water to 2/3 cup and proceed with directions. When the tea is complete, pour over a glass of ice and stir.
Citrus “Green Tea” Blend
Makes about 32 teabags
1 cup red raspberry leaves
1 tablespoon dried orange peel
1 tablespoon dried lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon dried cherries (optional)
- Place the red raspberry leaves in a bowl. Add in the orange and lemon peels.
- Sprinkle in the cinnamon. Add cherries if desired.
- Mix well and package in an airtight container.
To brew, use 1-2 teaspoons per cup of water.
Makes 4 cups of tea
Have you ever had the Russian Tea that is made from Tang and Country Time? All the flavor of that Russian Tea mix can be found in this homemade recipe. But it’s made with whole food ingredients – no powdered mixes. Make up a batch of this homemade Russian Tea, and you’ll find you get all the flavor without any of the chemicals and a ton of sugar.
4 cups water
Juice of one lemon (approximately 1/2 cup)
Juice of two oranges (approximately 1 cup)
2 tablespoons honey
1 4″ cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon whole cloves
6 tablespoons red raspberry leaves
- In a large saucepan, combine the 4 cups of hot water, lemon juice, orange juice, honey, cinnamon stick, and cloves. Bring to a boil.
- Remove from heat and add the red raspberry leaves. Allow to steep 3 minutes.
- Pour through a strainer into 4 tea cups.
- Enjoy hot or cold.
Other Tea Blends:
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