People have been brewing tonics, teas, fermented drinks and tisanes for thousands of years as a way to stay healthy, energised and balanced.
Now food writer Rachel de Thample has given a modern spin to some of these ancient drinks and remedies with the help of a nutritional therapist in her newest book Tonics & Teas: Traditional and Modern Remedies That Make You Feel Amazing £9.99.
If you love a juice shot, a kefir or want to try Afghan Pink Chai or have a crack at making your own kombucha , Rachel takes you step-by-step.
Rachel has worked in the kitchens of Marco Pierre White and Heston Blumenthal and has authored many food books including Less Meat, More Veg and Five, and has served as Head of Food for the pioneering organic box scheme Abel & Cole.
We've chosen three brews for the festive season - a warming mulled party drink, a cherry vanilla shrub that's an easy introduction to fermenting (great for gut health ) and makes a great mocktail mixer, plus a bedtime tea to soothe your stomach and your mind.
"This beautiful, aromatic drink is brimming with antioxidants, heart-healthy pomegranate and warming spices and is a brilliant alternative to mulled wine during the festive period," says Rachel. "Every time I offer guests a choice between this and mulled red wine, they’re always swayed toward this version."
Makes 4 x 250ml servings
1 litre pomegranate juice
1 tablespoon rose petals or 2 teaspoons rose water
8 cardamom pods, crushed
2 star anise
2 cinnamon sticks
1. Put all the ingredients into a large saucepan and simmer for 15 minutes.
2. Strain into heatproof glasses.
3. For a richer flavour, steep the mixture in the fridge overnight and then warm before serving.
CHERRY VANILLA SHRUB
"I make all kinds of shrubs, also known as ‘drinking vinegars' , both as a refreshing healthy drink and to capture seasonal moments, especially in the summer, when juicy, sun-kissed fruits are in abundance.
"The best and easiest way to make these is without following a recipe. Just pile your fruit into a sterilised jar, cover with vinegar and sweeten to taste with honey or maple syrup. You can add spices or herbs, too, if you like. This version uses the classic combination of cherries and vanilla. To drink, simply strain the fruit out (you can eat it – try it in salads) and pour into a tumbler with ice.
"Top up with sparkling or a good-quality tonic water. You can also add a shrub shot to a smoothie or use it to make virgin cocktails."
300g fresh cherries, pitted
500ml raw cider vinegar
2–3 tablespoons raw honey
or maple syrup
½ vanilla pod
1. Put the pitted cherries into a sealed bottle, top up with the cider vinegar and sweeten with honey or maple syrup to taste.
2. Add the vanilla. Secure the lid and let it mature at room temperature for at least 1 week, or for up to 6 months in the fridge – the vinegar will preserve the fruit.
3. Strain into glasses over ice and top up with sparkling mineral water – you want roughly 1 part shrub to 2 parts water.
4. Spoon a few cherries into the glasses, too, or use them in salads or other dishes such as tagines.
COSY BEDTIME TEA
"The ritual of making a bedtime tea can be enough to calm the mind. Chamomile and lavender soothe the nervous system and tone the parasympathetic nervous system, stimulating our ‘rest-and-digest’ mode – the ideal state before bed.
"Chamomile also helps to reduce excess cortisol, a stress hormone which can be damaging in large amounts. Chamomile can ease stomach cramps and may also be helpful in preventing migraines. Take twice a day to ease the menstrual cramping. Use with caution or avoid altogether if you are pregnant or attempting to conceive."
Makes 1 x 250ml serving
2 teaspoons chamomile
1 teaspoon lavender
A grating of nutmeg
300ml freshly boiled water
1. Combine the chamomile, lavender and nutmeg in a teapot and pour over the freshly boiled water. Steep 5 minutes then strain into a mug.
2. Bring 600ml water to a boil over high heat in a medium saucepan.
3. Bash and cut the lemongrass into thin shreds. Peel and julienne the ginger. Add both to the water and boil for 5 minutes.
4. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the tea for an additional 5 minutes. Sweeten to taste.
5. Serve warm, or refrigerate and serve over ice, garnished with lime slices if you wish.
Recipes taken from Tonics & Teas by Rachel De Thample. Published by Kyle Books, photography by Ali Allen. Buy Online.