Mama Tea: a delicious, mineral-rich herbal blend you'll reach for beyond pregnancy and postpartum.
I started drinking some variation of red raspberry leaf or NORA tea mid-way through my pregnancy. Over the last 2+ years, I've modified the blend from the earthy, grassy taste that's just tolerable to a rich, fruity blend that's a favorite year-round for myself, my husband, and my 18-month-old. If you've read my post on meal prep for the first forty days, you've seen the photo of my makeshift apothecary cabinet I put together for postpartum. I had no idea how massive a pound of tea was, but I am thankful for the stock of tea I've been able to tweak into the perfect blend! This herbal tea is jam-packed with vitamins and minerals that boast a myriad of health benefits for pregnancy, labor & delivery, postpartum, menstruation, and hormone regulation.
The deeper I've gone into my nutrition journey, the more opportunities I've found to make something as simple as tea work for me. Take advantage of the small ways you can replenish nutrients, minerals, and macros depleted during pregnancy, breastfeeding, parenting, work, and any other type of stress by optimizing your intake during the day to replenish your body.
Mama Tea Blend
While the average grocery store won't carry many of the following flowers and herbs, luckily, they are readily available at brick-and-mortar and online health food stores and even in bulk on places like Amazon. I've found that Frontier Co-op, Mountain Rose Herb, and Starwest Botanicals brands are the freshest and follow more sustainable growing practices.
Red Raspberry Leaf tea is one of the most commonly consumed pregnancy herbs. One study found that 38% of pregnant women in Australia and New Zealand drank Red Raspberry Leaf tea during pregnancy. It's believed to help strengthen the uterus, shorten labor, aid digestion, minimize menstrual cramping, and reduce general inflammation due to high antioxidant properties. On top of this, the herb contains calcium, magnesium, and zinc, which are needed in combination to restore mineral stores depleted during pregnancy or just from stress.
Nettle Leaf tea is an ancient medicinal herb recommended by traditional and Western practitioners. It has been found to have many benefits, including flushing bacteria from the urinary tract and preventing UTIs, reducing arthritis pain, increasing insulin sensitivity and reducing blood glucose, as well as preventing and managing inflammatory diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, cancer, and heart disease.
Alfalfa is a milk-making powerhouse. I don't love comparing myself to a dairy cow, but if it works for them, why wouldn't it work for us human mamas? Alfalfa contains various minerals, including iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sulfur, chlorine, sodium, potassium, silicon, and other trace minerals. It also contains vitamin E, which can stabilize estrogen levels; vitamin C, which can reduce cortisol and adrenaline levels; and vitamin K, which is necessary for blood clotting.
Oatstraw is part of the oat plant, which is known for being helpful, especially during breastfeeding, but has an endless slew of other beneficial properties. Oatstraw has the highest mineral content of all of the grains, with exceptionally high levels of iron, zinc, and manganese, which have calming properties over time. From what I've read, oatstraw is best used as a long-term support rather than a tonic. It is calming and combats burnout from chronic stress or fluctuating hormones.
Lemon Balm was the first herb I consciously remember learning about as a child. A crazy garden lady neighbor (am I her now?) grew it in her backyard and gave me some to try. I remember being amazed that a green leaf could taste like a lemon and that you could take something fresh and steep it into tea. Lemon Balm is technically part of the mint family and is another calming herb. It has been used for generations as an evening tea after meals to reduce stress and anxiety and aid digestion.
Rosehip Tea seemed to be a panacea growing up in an Eastern European household, and I know it is the same in Scandinavian cultures. I had chronic UTIs from childhood, and I remember being fed up with the rounds of antibiotics not working. After years of not believing in "old wives' tales," I finally tried drinking rosehip tea, and it worked so quickly it was mindblowing. I have healed my gut enough to no longer suffer from UTIs, but for a good 5 years, before I even started my nutritional or gut-healing journey, the second I felt a UTI coming on, I'd brew a strong, sour pot of rosehip tea and sip on it all day. Rosehips are one of nature's richest sources of vitamin C and have been used to combat infections such as coughs, colds, flu, and respiratory conditions. Because of their high antioxidant content, rosehips have also been studied and proven effective in extensive studies on inflammation and arthritis. Truth be told, I add rosehips to this tea blend primarily for flavor, but I also feel really good about consuming it during cold and flu season.
Hibiscus is a go-to in hot climates worldwide, and many people think of pitchers of iced sweet, sour tea when they think about Hibiscus. Similarly to rosehips, Hibiscus is a potent source of vitamin C and antioxidants and carries many of the same health benefits. In addition to fighting inflammation, Hibiscus is also a powerhouse for supporting the liver, which is critical when balancing hormones and lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.
Listing out all the health benefits was overwhelming, even for me. Combined, they all seem too good to be true. Drinking this tea will not cure every ailment in your body. You won't reverse every imbalance and replenish depleted mineral stores just by chugging tea. Still, everything works in tandem, and what we put into our bodies should support us nutritionally or emotionally. I know from my own experience that these herbs are potent. I do not have menstrual cramps when I consistently drink this tea before and during my cycle. I feel hydrated crave fewer sweets, and my energy levels, mood, and milk supply are more stable throughout the day and the month.
This recipe is not all or nothing, and I hope that the extensive benefits of each herb can help you pick and choose what you personally should prioritize.
You do not need every ingredient in this tea to reap the benefits or taste delicious.
I would start with a bare minimum of Red Raspberry Leaf and Nettle for replenishing mineral stores and Rosehips for antioxidants and flavor. From there, consider your needs. Add oatstraw to support milk supply or as a mood stabilizer or Hibiscus if you're detoxing from hormonal imbalances like estrogen dominance (especially notable when starting a pro metabolic or ancestral diet). Lemon Balm or Chamomile (not included in the recipe above) can support more restful sleep in the evening. Alfalfa is a powerful addition before and during labor and prolonged periods of high stress.
If you go all in with the recipe I've been loving, these are the proportions I've found most beneficial and delicious. I have a tall tea canister that is roughly 1 quart in volume. Even though this recipe technically measures 5 cups in volume, the loose scoops of herbs settle quickly.
1 cup Red Raspberry Leaf
1 cup Nettle
1 cup Oatstraw
1 cup Alfalfa
1/2 cup Lemon Balm
1/4 cup Rosehips
1/4 cup Hibiscus
2 tbs local honey
Let me know your thoughts below, and share your favorite herbal combinations!
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