Dried Flowers (from front to back: lavender, jasmine, hibiscus)

You know age is definitely catching up when you:

(1) can’t read the back of instant noodle packets without squinting;
(2) start getting unbelievably tipsy after two beers;
(3) notice that even though your hair is not receding, your gums are!

It is a bit scary when you begin seeing these signs. You can’t help but become conscious of the other little things your body is showing. What’s really important here though is to start taking steps, not to arrest ageing but to embrace it with grace… and to look after yourself better.

I’ve started my own process in July last year by ditching my beloved cigarettes. I noticed that in just two months of being smoke-free, I’ve slept better and snored a whole lot less. (Yea, I know. I was the epitome of sexy before!)

With my cholesterol at borderline high, I’ve also recently started upping my vegetable consumption and taking a break from my favourite steaks and mashed potatoes.

What I find difficult to let go is my stimulant of choice, coffee. I just can’t do without it, especially in the morning. So as an effort to bring my sugar levels down, I resolved to cut my daily intake in half. That means only having three cups instead of my usual six. You’re right, that’s a lot.

But because habits and rituals are hard to break, I’ve decided to replace the other three cups with tea. Bear with me. I’m taking baby steps here.

So these are the ones I’ve chosen. Actually they’re not made from real tea leaves but from caffeine-free flowers, to be steeped in hot water and sweetened with a bit of honey. My favourite place to get them is the Spice Souk in Dubai but there plenty available online or you may check out your local specialty shops.

Dried Spices and Herbs, Dubai Spice Souk

Jasmine Tea. If you’ve experienced dining in a Chinese restaurant in Manila, you probably have been served with complimentary jasmine tea, which they call ‘service tea,’ and can replace service water if you wish.  The Chinese believe that jasmine can strengthen the intestines by blocking bad bacteria and stimulate the acceleration of metabolism.  You’ll definitely need that after chowing down bowls of noodles and stir-fry! This is perfect as my after-lunch digestif.

To make yourself a cup of tisane, steep two (2) teaspoons of dried organic jasmine flowers in 8 ounces of hot water (not boiling) for 4-5 minutes. Strain. Best taken without sweeteners.

Hibiscus Tea. Popular in Mexico, Latin America, South East Asia and Sudan, hibiscus tea is tart and tastes very much like cranberries.  High in vitamin C, it is used in African and Asian traditional medicine to reduce cholesterol and lower blood pressure.  It pairs beautifully with peppermint and because of its inherent tartness, it is best sweetened with a bit of honey. This is my absolute favorite to make ruby-colored iced tea and together with my home-carbonated water, will keep me hydrated throughout the afternoon.

To make yourself a cup of tisane, steep one (1) teaspoon of dried organic hibiscus flowers in 8 ounces of boiling water for 10 minutes. Strain. Sweeten with sugar or pale honey.

Lavender Tea. Provence’s famed export, French lavender blossoms are fragrant and widely used in French cookery to flavour shortbreads and ice cream. The English lavender variety is equally sweet but more often used in lotions to relieve dry skin or in pillow sprays to promote restful sleep. I have an unusual sensitivity to perfume so it is best for me to enjoy the sleep-inducing powers of lavender through a non-nasal delivery system. This takes the place of my after-dinner java.

To make yourself a cup of this lovely tisane, steep one (1) teaspoon of dried organic lavender flowers in 8 ounces of boiling water for 4-5 minutes. Strain. Drink plain or sweeten with pale honey.

My ultimate goal is to reduce my coffee intake to just a cup, the essential one that goes very well with my mornings. I am not planning to eradicate coffee totally. That would just be too cruel to someone who collects coffee brewers!

Right now, living healthily is top priority. I still have a good quarter of a century before I see signs of advanced ageing. Hopefully, I won’t ever find myself pouring hot water over scented potpourri and having that for afternoon tea. Because that… is the very opposite of grace.

About Karima

A hospitality professional who has a passion for languages and the arts, Karima loves to travel to culinary destinations and acquire a deep understanding of their food philosophies. At home, she finds pleasure in cooking and mixing cocktails for her family and friends.

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