courtesy of URBAL TEA
Growing up in Madison, Nick Nowaczyk’s family felt a
deep connection with nature and its bounty. They played outdoors and
picked wild mushrooms, and they ate homemade sauerkraut and
vegetables they canned themselves, as well as lots of fresh fruits
After college Nowaczyk moved to Milwaukee and thought about how he could
turn his passion for healthy living into a career. With an idea to start
a tea business, he studied herbalism at Wildwood Institute in the
Madison area, commuting weekly for almost two years.
He used that knowledge to create Urbal Tea, which he so named for his
goal to “bridge the gap between herbs and urban areas.” He began selling
his blends at farmers markets, and now his more than 20 herbal teas are
sold throughout the area, including at Sendik’s Food Market and Beans &
All of his teas are herbal teas, meaning that they’re caffeine-free and
made from plants other than the plant from which traditional tea — such
as white, black and green — is made. He says he incorporates 10 to 20
different herbs in each of his blends, aiming for both health benefits
and robust flavor.
“People want teas that taste good and have unique flavor profiles,” he
says. He likes to leave the tea in the cup to allow the flavor to fully
develop. “The longer you steep them, the better,” he says, adding that
many of his ingredients come from regional suppliers, including
Winterfell Acres in the Madison area, Elderflower Community Orchards in
Fredonia, and Tea for the People in the La Crosse area.
Echoing the sentiments of many avid tea drinkers, Nowaczyk points out
how nourishing teas feel — and are, with their vitamins, minerals and
antioxidants. “Most medicines derive from plants, so it only makes sense
to go back to basics,” he says.
“While there is little consistent research supporting therapeutic
benefits of herbal teas, there are plenty of potential health
attributes,” says Kim Flannery, a registered dietitian nutritionist and
nutrition director at the Wisconsin Athletic Club. “Peppermint and
ginger, for instance, are common herbal tea ingredients thought to aid
digestion and soothe an upset stomach.”
“Ginger is anti-inflammatory,” says Dr. Sarah Axtell of Lakeside Natural
Medicine in Shorewood. “It improves digestion by improving GI motility
and decreasing nausea.” She adds that ginger tea is a great choice if
you’re looking to warm up during winter months.
What other ingredients might you look for this season? “Teas containing
echinacea may help boost natural immunity and fight infection,” Flannery
says. “Slippery elm can help to soothe a sore throat.”
“Elderberry has been found to reduce the duration of the flu by
inactivating flu virus replication,” Axtell says. “A study published in
the Journal of International Medical Research revealed that nearly 90
percent of patients had complete cure from the flu within two to three
days after taking elderberry.”
Axtell also recommends tulsi, aka holy basil, which she explains is an
adaptogenic herb, or one that helps us adapt to stress. Given how hectic
holiday schedules can become, reaching for a cup of tulsi tea might
provide a bit of relief.
Additionally, the act of making and drinking tea can calm stress-eating
impulses, Flannery says. Plus, “(herbal tea) can become part of a
calming nighttime ritual that may aid sleep, especially if it contains
chamomile,” she says.
Five Urbal Tea Blends for
|Berry Well, with
elderberry, dried currants, rosehip and hibiscus, to help you
stave off cold and the flu.
||Herbal Cold Care, with
echinacea, elderberry, ginger and lemon, to support immune
function and relieve aches.
||Winter Wellness, with
peppermint, orange peel, chamomile and echinacea, to keep the
chill at bay.
|Equilibrium, a version
of herbal chai with rooibos, raspberry leaf, licorice root and
nettle, to restore balance to the body.
||Cran Apple Detox,
with dandelion, rosehip and hibiscus, to help eliminate toxins.