Tea has stood the test of time as one of the most loved beverages on earth. There is no shortage of tea and tea blends you can enjoy anytime and anywhere. You can choose from black teas to green teas to an endless array of tea blends and herbal teas. One herbal tea that stands out for a truly unique flavor experience is star anise tea.
This aromatic beverage has a long history as a staple drink in various cultures across the globe. Made from the dried fruits of the Illicium verum plant, star anise tea offers not only a sensory-waking experience but also provides the body with numerous potential health benefits. From aiding digestion to boosting immunity and beyond, this article is about the rising popularity of star anise.
What is Star Anise Tea?
Adventurous chefs know star anise as a secret ingredient that adds a flavorful punch to a holiday dessert or elevates the taste of an Indian curry. However, simply adding star anise to boiling water in a teapot can create a wonderfully aromatic beverage called star anise tea.
These unique star-shaped pods are the dried fruits of the star anise tree (Illicium verum). A small tree native to East Asia, the star anise pods have been harvested and used for centuries in various culinary and medicinal traditions.
The star anise pods are steeped in hot water to prepare the tea, releasing a distinctive sweet, spicy, and licorice-like taste. This herbal tea offers a sensory experience full of aroma and taste and provides the body with several therapeutic qualities. This spice has two main versions: Chinese star anise (Illicium verum) and Japanese star anise (Illicium anisatum). Let's look at each style and break down their unique qualities.
Chinese Star Anise
Chinese star anise is the most popular version of the spice and, due to its potent flavor and aroma, is used in cooking, baking, and creating wonderful beverages like star anise teas. This star-shaped fruit is one of the main pillars of Chinese five-spice powder, but it is a versatile spice used in a wide range of delicious treats like hot star anise tea or roast duck. Chinese star anise should never be confused with anise seed. Although the names are similar, anise seed is a fruit of the Pimpinella anisum plant and part of the parsley family. Consuming Chinese star anise provides the body with several unique health benefits.
Japanese Star Anise
Consuming pure Chinese star anise is perfectly safe. However, Japanese star anise can be highly toxic if consumed in food or beverages. Instead, Japanese star anise is typically used in small doses as an ingredient in herbal folk remedies to help heal body conditions like toothaches and skin inflammations.
The Top Health Benefits of Star Anise
Star anise in Asian or Indian savory dishes is as flavorful as adding it to mouth-watering sweet dishes like cakes and pies or to enhance the flavor of fruit preserves and sweet syrups. And, of course, to make a delicious tea. And let's not forget about all those star anise benefits for the body and the mind. Here are just some of the many health benefits that star anise adds to your overall health and well-being.
#1. Aids Digestion
One of the most well-known and well-documented benefits of star anise tea is its ability to aid digestion. Traditional medicine systems like Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine have historically relied on this herbal remedy to help alleviate digestive issues.
Star anise contains potent compounds like anethole, which can help relax the gastrointestinal tract, reducing bloating, gas, and indigestion. Drinking this tea after consuming a heavy meal can relieve discomfort and promote smoother digestion.
#2. Relieves Gastrointestinal Discomfort
In addition to helping with general digestion, star anise may also help relieve specific gastrointestinal discomforts such as nausea, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. The star anise pods contain soothing properties that can help calm an upset stomach and reduce the severity of the symptoms.
This tea's anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties make star anise handy for optimal health. It is a perfect tool for fighting off pathogens and bacterial infections such as E. coli, Salmonella, viruses, and parasites responsible for gastrointestinal infections while supporting a healthier gut.
#3. Rich in Antioxidants
Antioxidants are compounds that help neutralize harmful free radicals in the body, which can lead to various chronic diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer's disease. Star anise is packed with these powerful antioxidants, making it an excellent addition to your daily regimen for overall health while strengthening your immune system.
The primary antioxidant in star anise is called quercetin. It helps protect your body from oxidative stress and supports your natural defense mechanisms, fighting chronic disease. The naturally occurring compound called shikimic acid also helps the body fight off illnesses like the common cold and the flu.
#4. Supports A Healthy Immune System
The antioxidant powers of star anise help support a strong immune system - the body's first line of defense against bacterial infections and illnesses. Star anise contains essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, vitamin A, and iron, which promote better immunity. Furthermore, a tea made with star anise adds a healthy dose of antimicrobial properties with each sip. These properties can help combat harmful microorganisms and strengthen the body's defense mechanisms.
When cold and flu season rears its ugly head, consider incorporating star anise into your daily routine to give your immune system that extra boost it needs to get you through it. The tea not only has warming and comforting qualities but can also provide relief from cold symptoms.
#5. Better Breathing
The aromatic compounds in star anise give it a distinctive and pleasant fragrance. Star anise has been used throughout history to relieve coughs, congestion, and other respiratory infections. The compound factor alone makes star anise essential oil a much sought-after product for a diffuser.
Studies show that the compound shikimic acid in star anise extract has therapeutic properties that can benefit respiratory health. Adding an organic star anise essential oil to your office or home air diffuser fills the room with a warm and inviting scent and helps open your airways for better breathing.
It is worth noting that shikimic acid is a key component in the production of oseltamivir, the active ingredient in Tamiflu, a medication used to treat influenza. While drinking this tea alone may not replace professional medical advice, it can complement it by soothing symptoms and promoting respiratory comfort.
#6. Pain Relief
Star anise has mild analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, making it an excellent natural option for pain relief. Whether you're dealing with headaches, joint pain, or muscle soreness, sipping a warm cup of this tea can provide gentle relief. Its calming effect on the central nervous system helps reduce discomfort and promote relaxation.
To enhance your tea-drinking experience, add other spices and herbs like ginger, cloves, or a cinnamon stick. These other spice mixes create a powerful natural remedy for pain relief and add flavor to your brew.
#7. Better Skin Health
The antioxidants and vitamin C present in star anise benefit internal health and contribute to healthier, more radiant skin. Antioxidants combat the effects of free radicals, protecting against premature aging and skin damage. Essential oils that contain organic star anise are a great way to fight fungal infections like ringworm, athlete's foot, and yeast infections.
Incorporating star anise into a daily routine can help maintain youthful-looking skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. To keep your skin looking great, use star anise topically as a facial rinse to promote clear, glowing skin. You can even buy star anise oil to rub onto problem areas of the skin. It has excellent antiseptic qualities and is one of those essential oils your skincare regime can't do without.
#8. Weight Loss and Weight Management
Star anise can be a great way to lose and keep weight off. It contains compounds that may assist in controlling appetite and reducing cravings for unhealthy snacks. Its digestive benefits also help support the efficient breakdown and absorption of nutrients essential for maintaining a healthy weight.
Even though star anise is a great way to manage weight and help with weight loss efforts, nothing beats a balanced diet and regular physical activity. Next time you reach for a fizzy soft drink, consider a cup of this healthy tea instead.
#9. Improve Blood Sugar Levels
Star anise may have a positive impact on blood sugar levels. Some studies show that certain compounds in star anise may help improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes.
Although further research is needed in this area, adding star anise to your diet may be a proactive step to promote healthy blood glucose levels and reduce high blood sugar levels overall. This is especially important if you have a family history of diabetes.
#10. Cancer-Fighting Properties
Star anise is packed full of beneficial anti-inflammatory properties and contains a concentrated dose of antioxidant properties. The wide array of antioxidants found in star anise, including quercetin, kaemferol, thymol, and coumaric acid, play a crucial role in combating oxidative stress within the body.
Studies show the potential anticancer properties of trans-anethole, a major constituent of star anise, exhibit antitumor effects against various cancers. This includes breast cancer, cervical carcinoma, fibrosarcoma, and Ehrlich ascites tumor. There is also ongoing research designed to determine how star anise can potentially slow and stop colon cancer progression.
#11. Better Blood Health
Star anise nutrition is similar to other spices like cinnamon and turmeric by assisting blood circulation, promoting better heart health, and possibly preventing heart disease. With a significant iron content, star anise can give you approximately 13% of your daily recommended iron in just a single tablespoon.
It's easier (and tastier!) to add star anise to your favorite food or beverage than consuming an entire tablespoon of these spices, and the iron concentration within them can still have a positive impact. As your meal cooks, the heat releases the essential oils of the pod, giving your meal flavor and a healthy dose of iron.
It can stimulate the production of red blood cells, thereby improving circulation and ensuring the proper oxygenation of the body's extremities, like the arms, legs, fingers, and toes. Delivering nutrients and oxygen more quickly through the bloodstream is a great way to heighten energy levels and create a sense of vitality.
#12. Women's Health
There is more to this little spicy star shape than meets the eye. Star anise's medicinal properties have traditionally helped women and men deal with several hormonal health issues. One of its compounds, anethole, mimics the effects of estrogen in the body. This process may help alleviate menstrual cramps, slow declining estrogen levels, and manage menopause symptoms.
Menstrual cramps can be debilitating for many women. Consuming star anise tea daily during this time is a natural ally, thanks to its muscle-relaxing properties. It can help alleviate the intensity of menstrual cramps while reducing discomfort and pain.
Star anise can also offer potential advantages for breastfeeding women. Anethole, a bioactive compound found in star anise, is believed to play a role in enhancing breast milk production. This is due to phytoestrogens, such as anethole, which mimic estrogen. The phytoestrogens in star anise may also help stop mastitis, a painful condition that can occasionally happen during breastfeeding.
Star Anise: The Spicy Star Shape With All The Healthy Power
This tasty spice is part of a healthy diet. Whether you're using star anise in your special five-spice powder, blend to create a delectable Asian dish, or as a heart-warming and soothing ingredient in your cup of star anise tea, you'll get all the benefits and the spicy taste of this powerful pod.
From fighting fungal infections to better digestion and blood circulation, this fantastic little star-shaped spice offers several benefits for the body. Try this one if you're looking for an exotic and exciting tea blend that harnesses the power of star anise.