Vanilla has integrated into our culture as one of the favorite ingredients in all manner of recipes and desserts. Although, many people take vanilla for granted, and do not realize that both vanilla and chocolate were unheard of before the Spanish conquistador Cortes brought these beans back to Europe in the early 1500s. The production of vanilla is a complicated process that involves hand-pollination and labor intensive harvesting practices. The extracted beans are turned into an expensive spice that can be used for a variety of desserts, flavorings, and as a vanilla tea that may contain certain beneficial health properties.
Vanilla tea involves implementation of the actual beans, extract, and perhaps the leaves of the plant to capture the essential oils of vanillin. There are plenty of ways to drink the tea, including a variety of store bought flavors, and it is sometimes mixed with other teas—for instance, vanilla chai or vanilla white tea with the essence of certain fruits. It’s important when you buy your tea that the ingredients are natural and not created by extracts—as there are many different artificial vanilla flavors on the market created by processes such as wood pulp and the extraction of a beaver’s anal glands.
There are a few health benefits of vanilla that are similar to other herbs. One common effect is that vanilla purportedly helps with nausea. Vanilla extract can be added to water and the aroma and certain components of the vanilla itself seem to reduce the nauseous feeling. This benefit may also be felt through drinking a strongly brewed cup of vanilla tea. In addition, a few studies have shown a link to vanilla and loss of weight. However, there are no conclusive studies as of yet to prove this connection is for real.
Perhaps the most immediate use of vanilla is the ability to reduce stress. As with the way it relieves nausea, vanilla seems to have an aromatic, therapeutic quality that promotes relaxation. Vanilla tea is the perfect way to unwind after an evening, and may even help ward away more serious illnesses by reducing stress levels and perhaps even helping to lower blood pressure as a result. Although the harvesting of vanilla is very complicated, the herbal remedies provided by the bean are marginal, but apparent—perhaps best described as a “vanilla” level of health effects that are noticeable, yet not extremely potent. Of course, no one deny how flavorful vanilla in its purest form is—which makes it an ideal flavoring that anyone can enjoy.