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I mainly drink peppermint tea as it is my favourite herbal tea, but think it's good to ring the changes every so often. So recently I was browsing through the various herbal teas at my local health store and took a fancy to a box of Dr Stuart's wild fennel. Dr Stuart's teas are a range of herbal, fruit and green teas made using plants with 'the highest essential oil content possible'.
Fennel is a tall feathery perennial herb which has an aniseed like flavour and is well known for its antispasmodic properties. Tea is made from the seeds of the plant and can be used to help soothe muscles of the digestive tract and respiratory system.
Opening the box I discovered individually wrapped teabags and a wonderfully sweet fennel aroma. I followed the instructions to allow the teabags (one for a cup and two for a mug) to infuse for a full five minutes, also placing a cover over my mug so as not to allow the oils to escape in the steam. Once brewed and as with all fennel tea, the teabags were rather gooey and slippery so a bit tricky to squeeze out.
The tea smelt deliciously of fresh and sweet fennel. I was then surprised by the taste, it didn't seem to me to match the aroma, being somewhat bland in comparison. Having used two teabags for a mug of tea I also expected a much stronger flavour. The aniseedy taste was enjoyable but rather mild and flat. The next time I made the tea I left it to infuse for longer and this did improve the strength of flavour, but who wants to wait almost ten minutes for a mug of tea to brew? Alternatively the use of three bags per mug would work out to be rather costly and at £1.19 for 20 teabags I had thought the tea a bit pricey as it was.
I have since bought a box of Clipper fennel tea to compare with Dr Stuart's. I much prefer the more rounded taste of the Clipper fennel and only one teabag for a mug is needed. So Dr Stuart's tea may have a high essential oil content and smell enticing but I was disappointed by its flavour, although generally good it had a dullness and lack of strength. To be honest, I haven't finished the box of tea and it will most likely be left in the cupboard untouched. I don't think Dr Stuart's wild fennel tea is something I will ever have a fancy for again in the future.
Thank you for reading this review x
© Lunaria 2012
Early last week I came down with some kind of stomach bug. I couldn't keep anything down and was suffering from pretty painful stomach cramps. Growing up, my mum always gave us fennel tea to ease stomach ailments. Fennel tea is usually made from the seeds of the fennel plant. It acts to relax the muscles and relieve spasms in the gastrointestinal tract and therefore is a good remedy for gas, bloating and stomach cramps. It also contains many nutrients, including vitamins C and B as well as minerals such as potassium, magnesium and calcium.
Not having any fennel seeds indoors and also on the lookout for something I could have when back at work I headed to the supermarket to look for some fennel tea bags. Browsing the tea aisle I came across some wild fennel tea from the Dr Stuart range of herbal teas. Dr Stuart is a botanist who specialises in creating a range of herbal and green teas. He promises that every herb used in teas from his range is of the highest quality and only the most prized parts of the plant are used. According to the packet the tea is a sweet herbal infusion of pure wild fennel seeds, which are believed to suppress the appetite. Although I didn't want to suppress my appetite (I didn't really really feel like eating) this sounded just what I was looking for so I bought a box of 20 tea bags for £1.09.
As soon as I opened the box I was hit by the sweet, aniseedy smell of fennel. Despite my lack of appetite I thought it smelt wonderful and was looking forward to a nice cup of tea. In fact, just the smell itself went someway towards making me feel less nauseous! The tea bags themselves are individually wrapped, which is great for keeping them fresh and also makes them easy to carry around.
As soon as I got home I decided to make myself a cuppa. The instructions on the pack advise to use one bag for a cup and two for a mug. As I was having a mug I took out two packets. I put the kettle on to boil and meanwhile opened the two packets and placed them in the mug. I poured on the freshly boiled water and allowed the tea to brew for a good five minutes, as recommended on the packaging. The long brewing time is needed to "allow the active botanicals to release all their valuable essential oils. Whilst brewing the instructions also recommend covering the mug to keep even more of the goodness in.
On removing the covering of the cup I was greeted by the beautiful aroma of fennel which was understandably much stronger than when the bags were in the packet. I was therefore quite surprised that when I took my first sip I could barely taste any fennel! It was definitely there in the background but far too weak for my liking! I thought perhaps I hadn't brewed for long enough so the next time I made myself some I let it brew for around 10 minutes, yet the results were the same.
I suspected that this maybe because I am used to drinking my own homemade fennel tea, which admittedly I brew in a pan for quite a while, so it is quite a bit stronger. So for the purposes of writing a complete and thorough review I tried to brew some tea in the same way using the bags instead. I found that this was indeed the case and letting these 'stew' for a bit on the hob brought out much more of the flavour. Having said that drinking the tea by brewing in the mug did have the desired effect and around 10 minutes after drinking I could feel the cramps and bloating start to ease.
Overall I think these tea bags deserve a middle of the road 3 stars - they did ease my bloating and cramps which is what I bought them for, however they just didn't taste strong enough for me when brewed in the cup, which is how they are supposed to be made.