There is a lot to choose from when it comes to fruit teas in the Caribbean. The love affair with bush teas is linked to the wide variety of extotic plants and herbs found in the region.
The best tasting exotic teas can be either classified as fruit teas or floral teas. These are teas from around the world. But regardless where they fall they provide a delicious taste of the tropics.
Many teas labeled as exotic teas are made from blended teas. That’s not the case in the Caribbean. Very few other places where such a wide variety all year round.
And so it’s normal to savor iced teas and juices from tree-ripe fruits on hot Summer days.
But it is also natural to cozy up with a steaming cup of tea made from those same plants on cooler evenings.
In adition to taste, these exotic teas pack a whole lot of benefits. Let’s explore seven of these exotic teas from Jamaica.
We’ll also look at some of the benefits of these teas.
The flowers and seed of pomegranate are the most commonly used pomegranate section.
Pomegranate tea is made with dried flowers and leaves or a powder made by crushing the seeds to make a powder. Pomegranate juice can aslo be used to make tea.
Pomegranate juice can be combined with teas for a more delightful beverage.
Benefits of Pomegranate Tea
The beverage is filled with powerful antioxidants and flavonoids. Therefore, Pomegranate tea offers a number of benefits. Five potential benefits you may get from drinking pomegranate tea are:
|Pomegranate Bush Tea|
|Boost your heart health|
|Improve your skin|
|Prevent some cancers|
|Help control diabetes|
|Lower your blood pressure|
What is Pomegranate? The Pomegranate tree which is a species of the Punica granatum shrub. Other names include Granada and Dadima. Pomegranate has a long history in ayurveda medicine.
The plant has been domesticated and cultivated in drier regions since the 5th millennium BC. Today it grows in the hot, dry regions of the United States and on several Caribbean islands.
Pomegranate fruit resembles an apple on the outside. However the inside is packed with tons of fleshy, sweet and slightly tart seeds that are covered with a juicy rind. Pomegranate seeds are called arils.
One Swedish study found that there was a correlation between drinking Pomegranate juice and lower blood sugar levels.
But this study is not conclusive. More research needs to be done.
Papaya Leaf Tea
Dried papaya leaves are generally used to make Papaya tea. A number of experiments validate useful benefits of the plant’s leaves.
Some benefits Papaya leaf tea may give you:
One report in the West Indian Medical Journal states that “papaya leaf may potentially serve as a good therapeutic agent for protection against gastric ulcer and oxidative stress.”
Another study confirms that papaya leaf juice helps increase platelet counts of people suffering from dengue fever.
Papaya, Papaw or Pawpaw?
Here is another tropical plant that has been enjoyed for many years. Depending where you live you may know it as Papaya, Papaw, or Paw Paw.
In Jamaica and the Caribbean, where I grew up, it is known as Papaw. Ripe Jamaican Papaw is chileed and eaten raw or used to make a refreshing drink.
The seeds are swallowed whole to relieve indigestion and expel parasites from the intestines. Dried Papaya leaves brewed for herbal tea.
Popular Guava Leaf Tea
Guava tea uses vary based on the Guava type and where it grows and cultural used.
However, since ancient times Guava leaf tea has been used for medicinal purposes. It is used to relieve dysentery, diarrhea, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Guava leaf tea is made using fresh or dried leaves. Five of six guava leaves are placed in boiling water. They are steeped for 3 or 4 minutes. The tea is strained and served.
The bark of the Guava plant can also be used to make Guava tea.
Health Benefits of Guava Tea
Potential health benefits of Guava include anti-inflammatory, lipid-lowering, antimicrobial and anti-diarrheal properties.
Guava leaves and bark have shown promise for being used in the pharmacology.
Studies show it has potential for treating cancer, pain, inflammation and bacterial infections.
The Botanical name for Guava is Psidium guajava. Guava is an evergreen plant in the Myrtaceae family.
More recently the Guava leaves have been the subject of intense study because of the potential health benefits.
Guava fruit is eaten raw when ripe or sem-ripe. Ripe Guava is crushed and used to make juice or a punch that is served cold.
Other culinary uses include jams, jellies,sauces and preserves.
The fruits, leaves and roots, are probably the most widely used sections of the plant.
It is estimated there are about 100 types of Guava. Guava is native to Mexico, the Caribbean and South America.
Guava fruits are actual berries that are closely related to cloves and Jamaican pimento.
Benefits of Yellow Passion Fruit Tea
Yellow passion fruit tea is one of the less popular exotic teas. It is more popularly consumed as and iced tea.
Drinking a cup of Yellow passion flower will give you the same benefits as you get from eating passion fruit.
These benefits include vitamins A and C. Calcium, Magnesium, Folate, Iron, and Potassium are some minerals in Yellow Passion Fruit.
Yellow passion fruit is also loaded with useful antioxidants that help the body fight inflammation and give your immune system a boost.
Yellow Passion Fruit
Yellow Passion fruit is more common in Jamaica than its counterpart Purple passion fruit. Ripe Yellow passion fruit has a hard shell like outside.
However the inside is filled with black seeds encased in a sweet, slightly tart gel-like pulp. hence the Jamaican name “Sweet Cup.”
As children we ate raw Yellow Passion fruit by cracking the case and scooping out the gel inside with a spoon. The pulp is usually used for juices. The seeds can be added to salads and yogurt too.
Passion fruit pulp makes a refreshing drink that can be enjoyed on a lazy summer day. But dried leaves of the passion fruit vine and dried passion flowers can be used to make tea to help you get a good night’s sleep.
Exotic Sweetsop Tea
Sweetsop tea is one of thsoe rare herbal teas that is traditionally used for medicinal purposes. Sweetsop tea is taken to relieve indigestion, colic, fevers and menstrual cramps.
Studies of Sweetsop leaves indicate that the plant has a number of phenol based compounds-mainly alkaloids and flavonoids.
Sweetsop leaves extracts showed anticancer, lipid-lowering, and antidiabetic as well as other potential health benefits.
Like other members of the Annonaceae plant family, Sweetsop has a long history as a folk medicinal herb.
Sweetsop is related to the Soursop family but. It’s biological name is Annona Squamosa
But in some areas, the fruit is also called Sugar apple. Sweetsop is native to the tropical region of the Americas and the West Indies.
The Sweetsop fruit is lighter green on the outside, with small rounded nodules.
The nodules separate as the fruit ripens.
Inside the fruit has a rich sweet custard like pulp.
The many black seeds inside the fruit are individually covered with the custard like pulp.
Inside the fruit can either be a creamy white or light yellow.
Three or four fresh or dried Soursop leaves are boiled for an average of five minutes. The tea is strained and allowed to cool. Then it is sweetened and consumed.
The brew, like the juice, is believed to help control diabetes, high blood pressure and anxiety.
But more recently the focus has turned to soursop leaf bush teas.There have been widespread claims on the Internet that touts soursop as an alternative medicinal cancer cure.
However experts warn that no reputable scientific organizations support these claims.
This fruit needs little introduction. Soursop has been regarded as a traditional medicinal herb for many decades.
According to Jamaican tradition, an ice-cold glass of Soursop juice maybe be all you need to calm the nerves on a particularly trying day. It may also help lower your blood sugar levels.
Mango Leaf Tea
Mango leaves have several useful benefits. They have Phenols and flavonoids which are plant compounds that help the human body obtain good health.
One compound found in mango leaves is Mangiferin.
Mangiferin is proven to help with insulin resistance, antidiabetic and anti-aging benefits.
How to Make Mango Leaf Tea
To make mango leaf tea follow these simple steps:
|Mango Leaf Tea Recipe|
|Place 3 or 4 mango leaves in a saucepan|
|Add 2 cups of Water|
|Simmer for 10 minutes|
|Remove from heat and set to cool|
|Strain, sweeten to taste and serve|
Mangois probably the Caribbean’s most widely recognized exotic fruit. Mangoes come in various sizes, shapes, colors and varying flavors to match.
Mangoes are sweet fruits that are chock full of vitamins and minerals. They are low in calories as well as being fat free and sodium free.
The average cup of raw mango packs:
- Calories: 99
- Fat: 0.6g
- Sodium: 2mg
- Carbohydrates: 25g
- Fiber: 2.6g
- Sugars: 23g
- Protein: 1.4g
- Vitamin C: 60mg
- Vitamin E: 1.5mg
- Folate: 71mcg
Source: U S Food and Drug Administration
The Caribbean is home to a number of exotic plants. Many of them grow wild in Jamaica and have served as traditional medicine for centuries.
But they also allow the island natives to enjoy exotic teas and drinks while getting the benefits these plants offer.
Sometimes exotic bush tea benefits may overlap. And sometimes those benefits will multiply if one or more of these plants and herbs are combined when making bush tea.
The great thing with globalization is you wont need to travel to the Caribbean to enjoy exotic teas from the region.
They are generally available in your local market or they can be bought online. Exotic Teas from Jamaican can be purchased on Etsy.com.