On a recent, unusually grey – for Portugal – Monday, I found myself in need of a healthy perk-me-up break from work. I discovered it in the far-flung wild western Algarve, where the Martinhal Beach Resort & Hotel was having a Wellness week, which included a workshop on herbal teas.
Laetitia Arrighi de Casanova is a phytotherapist by profession, French by nationality and resident of Portugal by choice. A year or so ago she noticed that a growing number of her friends were asking for advice on what infusions to take for their various ailments. So she decided to launch My Cha to offer a range of herbal teas: bespoke infusions, seasonal one-offs, plus a core group to treat most needs (sachets from €4 for 25g).
All the ingredients are totally natural, with no artificial scents, colourings or preservatives. As Laetitia says: “There is no need to supplement the flowers and herbs I use.” The company logo is the angelica flower, which, in its dried form, turns water a vivid turquoise in seconds.
The names of the teas are humorously self explanatory, from the Trop Mangé de Chocolat, which aids digestive excesses with its liquorice, peppermint, aniseed and angelica, to Madame à Besoin d’Energie, which uses ginseng to give strength, blueberry as an antioxidant and nettles for their mineral content.
My personal favourites are Full Moon, a night-time infusion with valerian, lemongrass, lavender, peppermint and mallow, as well as Monsieur à Besoin d’Energie, which I tried on behalf of my monsieur – who certainly needs it, but was at work. It is strong on rosemary, spicy ginseng, lemon thyme and nettles.
Those who happen to be near the Martinhal Resort can try the teas in its various restaurants or the spa. But if, instead, you are sitting in chilly England and feel like a little boost, it’s easy to order them online. Opt for Au Calme, Au Chaud with cinnamon, orange blossom and lime, or if it’s already too late to ward off the evil germs, get Adieu Mon Rhume with echinacea, lemon thyme, eucalyptus and ginger, which should set the cold-stricken back on their feet.
Just one word of warning: I tried Pure, a detox tea with horsetail (lots of potassium), calendula, nettle and a Chilean herb called boldo. I am sure it is highly effective, but it tasted so bitter that I couldn’t have more than one sip. So be prepared – it is for the brave only.