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Tea break with Alex Hurt – our guest lifestyle blogger and wellness friend

Earlier this week, we took 5 minutes out of our busy schedule to catch up with our friend and guest blogger Alex Hurt, writer of our recent lifestyle series and wellness guru! We were keen to find out how we could all learn to combat the challenges of working in a pandemic environment, post lock-down and how to deal with the anxiety/stress behind it. So we asked her few questions and challenges that we may all be dealing with.

Q: What has been the biggest wellness issue for you recently?

Honestly, it’s been the transition in returning to work.  Having a schedule again, balancing my new found loves from lockdown with an extremely busy job. In fact, there was a day last week where the phone went on do not disturb and I stayed in my pjs all day. 

It felt indulgent, but for me it was survival. I can’t give anything less than my best, I always try to keep to commitments and be the fixer – it’s exhausting. My anxiety kicks in and disables me. With experience on my side, I now know the difference between pushing myself out of a funk and the need for solace and to just be for a while. Last week it was the latter. 

Q: How do you manage your daily mental health?

Ooh good question. My anxiety tends to be the worst when I wake. My cats are normally hungry at silly o’clock and take great pleasure in scratching my beautiful bed to make me spring out of bed in a cartoon like fashion.

 I spend time in the morning on preparing for the day ahead.  I prepare all my food, brew the tea, make the smoothie and grab my breakfast. It’s the process of taking my mind off the niggling anxiety, and forgetting the rather fraught dreams.

 A process or a ritual has been my answer. At times when my overactive mind takes of my stream of consciousness I have to meditate. I need loud plinkity plonk music, aromatherapy and the floor… and between 20-30 mins of meditation. In a bad patch I’ll need guided meditation to sleep, with a cup of Sleep Well Tea on the side.

Q: What has been the most challenging aspect of going back to work?

In fear of repeating myself, it’s balance. Lockdown allowed me to evaluate in a way I’ve never done before. For my whole career work has been the priority, and although since moving back to the UK I’ve made boundaries, this time allowed me to see that I was exhausted from work, unable to make life outside of it. 

I’m working 2 days a week at the moment and trying to cram 5 days work into 2 days leaves me cross eyed and pressing the off button. 

Q: What positives have come out of the pandemic for you?

So many positives… time mainly. I’ve never felt so me, and the time and solitude allowed me to connect with myself in a way I’ve never done before. It’s also allowed me time to speak to my family daily. My dad and I would sometimes have 2-3 hour philosophical conversations over FaceTime and other days we’d speak complete nonsense. It was great, and I know my dad misses it as he lives far away and I won’t be seeing him anytime soon.

My productivity increased as I was able to really focus on my love of writing. Not only did I continue to write my personal blog, but I wrote for Camellia’s Tea House, which I really enjoyed. I’ve been writing and creating copy for my whole career, as part of my role and beyond with writing for magazines.  Lockdown gave me the permission I needed to tie my work in a bow and create my own website, showcasing my writing and creating an offering for others. 

Now launching my own website is a manifestation of my time in lockdown, and a new trajectory for my future: www.alexandrahurt.co.uk

Q: Do you have a new work life balance?

Yes, but I’m still working on it. Until I go full time again, I’m still incredibly busy with volunteering in the gardens of Kentwell Hall, a stunning stately home near by and keeping up with my writing.

Q: What’s your go to SOS de-stress technique?

Run a hot shower, turn up the plinkity plonk music and apply a heavily infused aromatherapy relaxation blend to your chest and arms. Stand in the shower and allow the water to wash over you, take deep breaths and let the water set to work of your aches and pains or washing the day or the worry away. This is a cleansing ritual for the soul and not the skin.  The shower is therapeutic. Then it’s clean pjs and my favourite spot on the floor for some meditation. 

If I’m at work, it’s my scentered ‘escape’ aromatherapy balm rubbed on to my pulse points, eyes closed and a few minutes of deep breaths.  Or if time allows ten minutes outside on a small bridge looking onto a lake. 

Q: What’s your favourite cuppa? 

This is easy, I love sitting in my big armchair nursing a cup of Camellia’s Beautiful Skin Tea. This is the calming comfort I need, and I know it’s doing me good. 

Celebrate National Organic Month with Wellness Teas

In the month of September and beyond, we look to encourage our beloved tea friends to eat, drink, use and choose organic teas & products within their daily lifestyle. Organic has long been recognised as working with nature, as opposed to against it, with products designed and made using the most environmentally friendly farming and production methods as possible.

Camellia’s Tea House takes sustainability and organic produce seriously – where possible we use organically sourced ingredients to create wonderful wellness and fusion teas for professional performance in health and skincare.

Many researchers have stated that drinking three or more cups of tea a day is as good for a body as drinking plenty of hydrating water and may even have extra health benefits due to the healthy levels of anti-oxidants and benefits derived from the herbs, spices and flowers in our range of wellness teas.

In this Organic September month and current Autumnal Season, our tea recommendations are wellness teas which been designed by Camellia’s Tea House using homoeopathic and herbal medicine principles, many of them to target specific ailments, which have been created using wholly organic wellness ingredients from responsible and sustainable resources.

The main ingredients of these wellness teas are:

Organic Chamomile: Chamomile has long been known as a medicinal flower that helpful for aching body & stiffness, relaxation, calming a racing mind, to reduce stress and anxiety, plus help promote a good night’s sleep.

Organic Rose: Rose is great for highly sensitive and more mature skins. Rose is often used as an element in skincare to help facial improvement by reducing the risk of irritation, tranquillizing the appearance of redness and helping your skin to be free from irritants and toxins. Rose is renowned as being an unrivalled beneficial flower for overall skin improvement, cellular renewal, plus also being helpful for overall soothing and hydration.

Organic Lavender: Lavender is well known as an aromatherapy element that supports the mind and body in terms of promoting relaxation, alleviating stress and improving concentration. It is also great for deodorizing rooms to create an aroma of ambience and calm.

organic teas

Dream Tea is a truly great slumber infusion! Hops have a reputation for inducing vivid and colourful dreams and chamomile is well known for its calming properties.

organic teas

Beautiful Skin Tea is a light herbal infusion marked but its distinct chamomile and elderflower undertones. It contains a wide range of herbs such as chickweed, red clover, nettle and dandelion and is believed to help promote healthy and clear skin throughout the body.

organic teas

White Harmony Tea is a soothing and delicious infusion, ideal for relaxed moments. White tea is infused with chamomile, rose and lavender to create a lightly floral aroma which sits on top of the distinctive mellow flavour of chamomile.

Sleep Well Tea

Sleep Well Tea is a lovely and soothing infusion believed to ease insomnia and promote a restful night’s sleep.

Old Fashioned Cocktail Recipe with an Earl Grey Orange Tea Twist

We’re thrilled to share with you a “oh-so-easy” tea cocktail recipe to chill at home. We use our Great Taste Award winning Earl Grey Orange Tea to give the classic Old Fashioned cocktail a special twist. Let’s check it out!

Earl Grey Old Fashioned
Earl Grey Orange Black Tea

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp of Camellia’s Earl Grey Orange tea 
  • 180ml of fresh water, plus 2 cups
  • 2 cup of sugar
  • 60ml good bourbon or rye whiskey
  • 4 dashes of Angostura bitters
  • Large ice cubs
  • 1 large orange twist to garnish

Instructions:

For making Earl Grey Orange Tea Syrup: Steep the loose tea in 180ml of fresh boiling water for 3-4 minutes. Then remove the tea leaves and set tea liquid aside.
In a small sauce pot, put 2 cups of fresh water to a boil, then add 6 teaspoons of reserved tea liquid and remove from heat.
Add sugar and stir well to dilute. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes, then strain into a separate container.

For making the Earl Grey Old Fashioned cocktail: Pour the whiskey into an short glass. Add 60ml of Earl Grey Orange Tea syrup and bitters. Add a single large ice cub. Cut a large orange twist, being careful to only get the skin and not the bitter pith, and express it over the drink with a twisting motion. Drop it in to garnish.

Enjoy and share with us your own tea cocktail on social media 😉!

Do You Suffer With Stomach Health Issues?

According to Chinese Herbal Medicine, August is the pivot point between summer and Autumn and represents the element of earth which is responsible for spleen and stomach health issues. The stomach is probably one of the most important organs of the body because it plays a big role in overall health and well-being. This blog will feature Happy Tummy Tea and explore the benefits of its ingredients and its usage in traditional medical practices.

The Five Elements include Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water, are associated to Eastern medical philosophy. Each element represents its own character. We can be made up of all five elements, but we have a dominant element which gives us our uniqueness.

The Earth element and how it effects the stomach

We feel our best when we live and adapt according to the seasons with appropriate diet and lifestyle adjustments. In late summer, the earth element is at its peak, a person in a state of balance is able to demonstrate a strong immune system and a healthy gut.

When out of balance the earth type is affected by chronic worry, anxiety or overthinking. These emotions are directly related to the stomach and spleen. Digestive issues such as bloating, constipation, diarrhea and IBS can be experienced. The taste that corresponds to and supports the stomach is sweet and earthy flavours. The most appropriate foods are vegetables which are harvested in late summer or root vegetables that grow directly in the ground.

How can Happy Tummy Tea help?

Happy Tummy Tea is made with a blend of dynamic ingredients known to help with digestive disorders. For some people, the blend offers immediate relief thanks to its components mint, liquorice, rose hips and star anise.

Liquorice root is known to contain a compound, carbenoxolone, used to treat stomach and esophageal ulcers with positive effects. Scientists think that it increases blood flow to and amount of mucus lining the stomach.  Liquorice gives Happy Tummy its subtle sweet notes.

Mint has been used as medicine for several centuries to treat a variety of ailments, including irritable bowel syndrome and general gastrointestinal (GI) discomfort. Mint offers a refreshing clean drinking experience to the blend.

Rose Hips are wild plants that have been traditionally used as medicinal compounds for the treatment of a wide variety of diseases. Over the last few years, medicinal interest in rose hips has increased as a consequence of recent research that has studied its potential application, as a treatment for several diseases including diarrhea, inflammatory disorders and obesity. Rose hips are often found in tea blends and offer a delicious tart finish to the cup.

Star Anise has been around for centuries and more commonly used in Asian cuisine and Eastern medical practices. It is known to help with a variety of health issues including any symptoms relating to the stomach and digestive system. It offers an aromatic sweet and spicy flavour to the cup.

How do I make Happy Tummy Tea?

Happy Tummy tea can be drunk just before or after a meal or when symptoms are active. We recommend brewing 1 teaspoon in boiling hot water for 5 minutes. If you prefer a stronger brew then steeping it for a few minutes longer will work well.

For a cold brew, we recommend adding 2-3 teaspoons of tea to a glass container and topping it up with approximately a litre of cold filtered water and allowing it to brew over-night in the fridge.

For the person belonging to the earth element, we recommend hot brewing this tea for better results.

Other tea recommendations

The Earth person does well for warm, sweet and earthy foods and drinks, but this does not mean its ok to add sugar to your diet. Pu-erh teas make a great addition to Happy Tummy, due to their double fermentation process and earthy qualities. Pu-erh teas are buried underground for 2 years before they are ready for consumption. They are well known for their digestive health benefits and offer a robust, sweet and earthy infusion.  For further information about Pu-erh teas, please see our Pu-erh Tea and Pu-erh Orange.

Stomach Health Issues

Please note that we do not recommend Happy Tummy Tea to pregnant women and for those who suffer with high blood pressure.

Healthy Sugar Alternatives for Tea

Most people add milk and sugar as an additive to black tea, but there is a growing movement towards healthier sugar options as diabetes and other sugar related diseases are on the rise. Sugar alternatives come with their own flavour profile and there is a distinct impact that it has on the overall flavour of tea.

The most common sugar alternatives are artificial sweeteners, honey, maple syrup, agave nectar and stevia. There are many more alternatives such is Xyitol, Erythritol and Monk Fruit. In this topic we are going to stay away from artificial sweeteners and look at the healthier options of sweetening your cup of tea. 

Firstly, if you would like to avoid taking any form of sweetener but find tea too bitter without it,  we would suggest switching to a higher quality tea.  Black teas such as Darjeeling Goomtee, Darjeeling Jungpana Supreme or Keemun are delicious teas and can be drunk without milk or sugar.  Secondly, make sure that you don’t steep the tea for too long and follow some basic brewing guidelines. We suggest 3-5 minutes depending on how strong you like it.

Natural Sugars

Stevia:

Stevia is plant based and derived from Stevia rebaudiana. Stevioside, a sweet compound in stevia, which has been shown to help lower blood pressure, blood sugar, and insulin levels. It is much sweeter than sugar and some find it contains a bitter aftertaste or is similar to liquorice in flavour.  

Stevia is suited to a bold, malty and brisk tea, such as Assam Bargang.

Honey:

Is a common sugar alternative for tea and the most popular is clover honey because it has a neutral flavour. Honey is known for its health benefits but it is still a sugar and should be taken in small quantities if avoiding sugar.  

Tupelo Honey is delicious in herbal teas.

Sugar Alternatives

Maple Syrup:

Maple syrup is thick and sugary made by cooking down the sap of maple trees. It contains a good amount of nutrients and larger quantities of antioxidants than honey. It is known to be good for you and offers a lower glycemic index than sugar but should be consumed in moderation.  Maple syrup is a healthier option to honey. It offers a delicate flavour of maple.

Agave Nectar:

Agave nectar is very similar to honey and popular amongst vegans.  It has a similar flavour profile to clover honey but offers more neutral notes. It is sweeter than sugar and the glycemic index is slightly lower to sugar. It is debatable if agave nectar is healthy, but it does absorb into the blood stream slower than refined sugars.  It should be consumed in moderation.

Xyitol:

Xyitol is a sugar alcohol with similar in sweetness, flavour and texture to white sugar. It contains approximately 40% less calories than sugar and lacks fructose. It does not spike up blood sugar levels and is known to be good for oral health. The body tolerates xyitol well when consumed in moderation but more research needs to be carried out. Follow the article Controversies around Xylitol if you would like to learn more.

Erythritol:

Erythritol is similar to xyitol and is also a sugar alcohol. It contains less calories than xyitol and has a similar flavour profile to sugar. It is generally more difficult to source and can be expensive. It is known to be safe for consumption and does not spike up sugar levels. More research however needs to be carried out. To learn more about Erythritol.

Monk Fruit Sweetener:

This sweetener is made from the monk fruit and is much sweeter than regular sugar but offers a similar texture. Some manufacturers mix it with other sweeteners to reduce the sweet intensity. Research claims it is safe to consume and contributes to many health benefits. To learn more about Monk Fruit Sweetener.

The option for sugar alternatives is a matter of taste preference, but it seems xyitol, erythritol and monk fruit make a good choice if you desire no change in tea flavour.

Meditation and Mindfulness – Essential Tools & Simple Tips To Keep The Calm In Your Daily Lifestyle

In the eighth and final blog of our series with Alex Hurt, she delves into the world of meditation and mindfulness. Giving you some essential tools and simple tips to keep the calm in your daily lifestyle.

So.. curl up with your favourite wellness tea, light a candle and read Alex’s musings to put a smile on your face and some goodness into your day. 


It’s my last blog in the series, are we really done? Is this it, are we really over? Not quite…

My final words will be spoken in hush tones, with Tibetan tingsha bells and a heady air of patchouli… or perhaps not! As we head into the unknown, I don’t think you need crystals and tie dye, I truly believe we all need to tools to keep life real, remember what we’ve all learned about ourselves and to apply it. 

On this gargantuan learning curve, we all need to be patient and kind, with each other and ourselves. This week to conclude I’d like to talk about meditation and mindfulness. So, let’s tune out of the noise and into ourselves for a few moments, take a breath and pour a cup of wonderful herbal Bobby Marley Wellness Tea – because every little thing is gonna be alright! 

This little cup of sunshine is ideal for calming nerves. With its magic ingredient being ‘skullcap’, this powerful anti-oxidant may help protect against neurological complications and keep you cool, calm and collected. Bobby Marley tea will ease nerves and soothe thoughts, making it the ideal partner for anyone living with anxiety or depression. 

Over the last eight weeks we have explored thoughts, feelings, friendships, conditions and ways to get us through these strange times. All with a cup of Camellia’s Tea to keep us company. We have touched on meditation and mindfulness, and now let’s jump into that brew and explore how you really do it. 

It’s about tuning out, giving your racing mind a rest, being still. Abandoning thoughts of what you’re doing next and worrying about things that will never happen. It’s really not that complicated, you don’t need new work out togs, or a room mist (unless you want one), you need you, and perhaps you always have? Meditation isn’t about not thinking, it about letting your thoughts pass over without judgement. Letting them swim past, you can look at them but you don’t need to experience them here. 

I think we are all led to believe that those who meditate are in a special club. Exclusively, those blessed can sit cross legged with an incense stick and chant mantras. Don’t be daft! Seriously anyone can do it, but like most things, practice makes perfect. When I started out, I was particularly envious of those members all smug with their non furrowed brow and free thoughts. I really needed to not think at all. At times my head exploding with noise, I needed not only to find silence, I needed to find calm. 

Meditation really begins with breathing and it really is that simple. In fact, I’ve noticed that I now naturally breathe a lot deeper in times when I feel that I need to. Going back to basics, our body requires oxygen to work effectively. We only ever breathe deeply and naturally from our abdomen, when we are asleep. That’s because we are relaxed and we need to regenerate whilst we rest. Oxygen is carried throughout and distributed to our organs. Leaving the heart, we are full of oxygen, however on the return we need a top up. Exercise, movement and activity are vital to keep our body and mind healthy. In fact, when you’re tired you yawn… you need the oxygen as you being to fade. When you’re emotional, you take a bigger breath, or you sigh… this breath you need to relax and slow down.

We shallow breathe for the most part, barely ever reaching into our core for that calming breath. Why? We’re too busy to have to remember. 

Start here. 

Can you for a moment give yourself 5 minutes of silence? Sit on the floor or in a chair, close your eyes and take a deep breath inhaling through your nose slowly and exhaling out through your mouth. Your inhalation breath should be deep enough to see your tummy extend and not just your chest. Concentrate only on that breath in and out for 5 minutes. If your mind strays bring it back to the centre with your breathing. 

Just by breathing deeply for five minutes can have a profound effect of how you feel. No one else can feel what’s happening inside, but I can promise you that doing some deep breaths will only make you feel better, calmer and more in control. 

So, how about you take a walk, to a park, a field, or a road lined in trees. As you walk listen to the sounds around you and let them in, breathe your deep breaths as you walk along. Look up at the leaves, the way the air or the wind moves the trees. You’re present right now and that’s mindfulness. Did you feel that? 

Meditating is about getting into that zone, creating that place, you should be undisturbed, phones silenced. To start with you may like to use a guided meditation from you tube or an app. Guided meditation are personal, the teachers voice and content must fit your ears like a glove. Try listening before you try to meditate and definitely before you buy. There is nothing worse than a voice that makes you annoyed or content that doesn’t fit your beliefs. 

Grounding yourself as you start to meditate is great. Sit on the floor if you can, and imagine an anchor from your bottom right down to the earth, just keeping you where you need to be. As you begin your deep breaths keep your eyes open and find your focus. For some, this could be an image a symbol and for others like me, it could just simply start as a point on my wardrobe. Begin breathing, stretch if you need to, but don’t stop those deep breaths. Feel the tension in your body, and breathe it out. 

You’re doing it, that wasn’t hard was it? I think getting yourself in the headspace to do it is harder. Finding the time and the discipline to put yourself first is the battle, rather than the practice of meditation. By practicing this over and over again everyone will have a different experience. I have my own little rituals that involve incredibly loud melodic music, a hot shower and dousing myself in essential oils before I sit cross legged on the floor and let go of my day. Other times I throw myself down on the edge of a field. 

It’s addictive, it’s balancing and quite frankly it’s a necessity. Whether you meditate without any guidance, or you download an app… who cares? The point is you are self-aware, you are working on yourself and being kind. It doesn’t have to be fluffy; it just needs to work for you. 

So, as you either edge into life as we begin to return, or if you jump in with both feet try to maintain what you’ve learned about yourself. If you’ve learned that your job stresses you more than you thought, well you wouldn’t be alone! Now, what are you going to do about it? Over the last eight weeks we have covered a lot of ground, and if you cast your mind back, we talked a lot about sleep… or lack of it. So, remember your sleep directly correlates with what you eat, how you feel and how active you are. Try not to get hooked on caffeine again and reach for the alternative. 

In your first aid care package to return to work should be Stress Tea. This wellness blend joins you in support to reduce a stressed-out nervous system and reduce the feelings you may have connected with anxiety. This lemony tea with the trifecta of lemon balm, lemon verbena and lemongrass, balances your stress and leads you to wellness, mindfulness and meditation.

It’s been a pleasure, I hope you’ve enjoyed our time together, snuggled up in a chair. I raise my cup of Bobby Marley Tea to you all and in his words “love the life you live, and live the life you love”

Namaste,

Alex Hurt x

meditation and mindfulness

Cold Brew vs Hot brewed Iced-Teas

Now that summer is here, iced-tea season has arrived, but which style of brewing is better? Cold brew or Hot brew iced-teas? In this topic, Lubna will explore the differences between the two, how it impacts the flavour profile and health benefits.

Traditional iced tea is made by steeping tea leaves in hot water first. Once the tea is brewed it is served over ice or chilled in the refrigerator and then served cold. With cold brew iced-teas you simply leave out the hot water part and steep leaves in cold water instead. The process requires a much longer brew and can be refrigerated overnight.

How to determine which is the best brewing method for you?

Well that all depends on what type of tea you want to brew and your tastebuds. I personally think a strong, bold and high flavoured tea achieves a well-balanced flavour profile when cold brewing. For example, teas from the Earl Grey family such as Extravagant Earl Grey and Green Earl Grey works very well for me. Mango Black Tea and Sweet Orange Tea make a delicious cold brew as well.  Other considerations, a dark roasted Formosa Oolong, floral Jasmin Pearls and a refreshing Green Mint all comes to mind.

Cold Brew Iced-Teas
Black Rose Cold Brew Iced-Tea

The result of a cold brew iced-teas is a sweet and smooth texture with a crisp and clean finish without the bitterness from the tannins. A cold brew tea won’t extract much body and depth but you will still enjoy the soft flavourful and aromatic notes. The cold brew method is hassle free because brewing is so simple. For 1 litre of water brew approximately 1 tablespoon of tea. If the leaves are light and large then you can increase the quantity of leaves. 

The traditional way of making ice-tea is ideal if you are in a hurry and don’t mind the bitterness and astringency in your cup but to be honest this really depends on how you brew your tea. Too little tea leaves result in a bland and watery brew, too much a bitter aftertaste. A hot brew requires the correct amount of tea leaves and water ratio, timing the brew so not to over or under steep and brewing under recommended water temperature guidelines for black, green or herbal teas.

Why does cold brew taste different to a hot brew?

Research claims that this is down to chemical kinetics. Tea leaves contain flavour compounds that are heat sensitive. When hot water is poured over the leaves, energy from the heat makes water molecules move a lot faster allowing flavour extraction to be quick. When cold water is applied, the water molecules are moving at a much slower pace and extracting less number of compounds over the same period of time. That’s why a longer period of time is needed for flavour extraction. Furthermore, it is interesting to note that compounds such as polyphenols which gives tea its astringency and bitterness from caffeine, is only extracted in fragments in a cold brew. For this reason, cold brew iced-teas can offer a smoother and more aromatic finish because it is not masked by the dry and bitterness of the tea compounds.

Are there any differences in health benefits?

It appears there is not much difference in health benefits although some may argue that you extract more antioxidants from a cold brew. I do prefer to cold brew black, green and white iced-teas but opt for hot brew when infusing herbal teas. This is because some herbs have their medicinal compounds buried deep within their structure which require a full goodness extraction using hot water. I also like the idea that hot water cleans out any bacteria from old herbs that have been sitting around for a while. But if you prefer to cold brew, then I recommend herbal teas which contain flower and leaves such as chamomile, rose, lemon verbena, peppermint etc. My favourite infusion for the summer is Toxin Killer, offering a smooth and clean texture followed by floral and earthy notes balanced beautifully together.

To get the best ice-tea recipes that contain both methods of brewing please read our blog “Guide For Best Summer Iced Drinks”

The Sweetener!

In the seventh blog of our series with Alex Hurt, she explores the topic of diet, diabetes awareness and embracing a healthier lifestyle, plus being honest with yourself about your daily habits.

So.. curl up with your favourite wellness tea, light a candle and read Alex’s musings to put a smile on your face and some goodness into your day. 


Oh how the summer has arrived, and today with strong gusts and sunny skies with my washing on the line, it’s blowing away all the metaphorical cobwebs. Windy weather always makes me think the world’s gone topsy turvy for a while; and I rather like it. This week we’re diving straight into diabetes and the ironic sweetener here is if it’s type 2, you can do something about it. It’s simply about making better choices. 

Our friends over at diabetes.org.uk tell the story in facts and figures, so, by educating yourself you can completely prevent type 2 diabetes, lessen the stress and strain on both your body and that NHS you were clapping so hard for every Thursday.

Facts and Figures

  • 4.7 Million people in the UK have diabetes in the UK, that’s roughly 1 in 15 people.  
  • 90% of people have type 2 diabetes, 8% have type 1 diabetes and 2% have a rare kind of diabetes. 
  • It can take 5-6 years before a type 2 diagnoses and 6 in 10 of those diagnoses have zero symptoms. 
  • Obesity is responsible for 80-85% of type 2 diabetes, but the good news is more than half the people diagnosed with type 2 could have either been prevented or delayed.

Type 1 diabetes is more commonly diagnosed in childhood or your more formative years. Your body’s immune system fights off viruses and bacteria, however in people with type 1 the body attacks its own healthy cells, along with the insulin producing cells in the pancreas and the body is unable to produce insulin.  Insulin levels then need to be monitored and insulin injected.

Type 2 diabetes means that the body has an insulin resistance. The body produces the insulin but can’t use it effectively. This means your pancreas will try to compensate by producing more insulin and the glucose then accumulates in your bloodstream. Type 2 can be treated by diet and exercise only, and medication. Type 2 is lifestyle dependent and therefore it can be delayed or entirely prevented in many people.

‘Wellness’ is the word that people are spouting off as often as you hear ‘down facing dog’ these days. Wellness and not illness, is the POINT! Your mental and physical health come hand in hand, and to be well will put less strain on your life, finances and our beloved health system. It’s not rocket science that if you eat more than you burn off, you’ll pile on the pounds.  Eating less and moving more is the general rule of thumb. That said, for those of us with varying conditions, illnesses or lifestyles unsympathetic to this… then Houston, we have a problem! Wellness is about everyday wellbeing. It’s about making the right choices and being kind to yourself.  Finding hobbies that you enjoy that get you active, educating yourself on different foods that are more nutrient rich, but taste good.

About 8 years ago I was diagnosed with pre diabetes. I was living a fast-paced life in Dubai. Eating out, drinking more than I should, working long hours. I was stressed out, bloated and had high blood pressure because of the strain I put my body under. My food choices were not healthy, they were quick. Whilst I enjoyed food, I never took my time, rather wolfed lunches down in front of a laptop, ate dinner in front of the tv and this was often a takeaway. I did very little exercise because it was so damned hot and I worked most of the time. I’ve always been cushioned! This time of my life I resembled more of a pillow! The shock I had, being in my early thirties and discovering that if I didn’t make changes pretty fast, I’m going to have a chronic illness for the rest of my life made me schedule an appointment with a nutritionist STAT!

The painful process of being poked, prodded, weighed, measured and the shame of listing what you ate – and actually telling the truth! Well, it’s all worth it now because I’m absolutely A-OK. But then? I felt terrible, like I had betrayed my own body. I enrolled in a scheme where I had all my meals prepared for me, and this taught me all about making the right choices and portion control. I believe within about 4 months I had reversed the pre diabetes and reduced my weight significantly. What an achievement. It was at that time I realised I wasn’t invincible. Although my choices in food dramatically improved, I was still stressed, still smoking and still liked my martinis! My doctor scared me to death and recommended I go on medication to reduce my blood pressure. Looking back, I wish he had more of a holistic approach with me. My BP was high because I was stressed. It only peaked when my anxiety was heightened, but my anxiety disorder didn’t get diagnosed until last year! Alas my doctor put me on meds and sent me on my merry way.

The proof that a healthier mindset creates a healthier body is writing this blog for you to read. I am still indeed cushioned, I would love to be svelte but I am going to work with what I have. I’m a walker; I did try running, and whilst I hated actually running (more of a light jog tbh) the feeling of achievement was off the charts. However, my knees didn’t agree with it. I eat fish, chicken and ALOT of veg, I don’t drink very often (perhaps once a month if that), and my biggest achievement is that I no longer smoke. I was hypnotised and haven’t touched one since I quit, and I’m no quitter! I no longer have high blood pressure, or pre diabetes and I am a healthier version of me because I made better choices. In fact, I honestly believe that all along, if someone had sat me down and explained to me how I could change my life to reduce my anxiety a long time ago, I could have avoided this chapter of my life entirely.

Here’s a checklist for you.

  • Do you have enough time to make the right choices? If not, how can you find a way to give yourself more time now, to add time onto your quality of life later?
  • Do you enjoy your food, or do you simply wolf it down?
  • Does stress affect your eating? Either over or under eating?
  • Are you overweight and is it preventing you from doing the things in life you would like to?
  • Are you stressed out all the time?
  • Do you know how to make better food and lifestyle choices?

Whether lockdown has been the ideal time to get to grips with your healthy eating, or you’ve piled on the pounds through boredom or indeed stress – it’s ok. Firstly, let’s not punish ourselves. Being kind however does not begin with a jam donut, I wish it did, but it doesn’t. Wellness is simply living life in a ‘well way’. Being aware of what makes you overeat; this could be stress, lack of sleep or a bottle too many of wine. Think about what you have at home in the cupboards and in the fridge. You don’t have to visit a nutritionist or have your meals delivered, although if that’s a financial option then I can tell you it’s a convenient one!

Shopping list

  • More fruit – yes it has sugar, but a different kind.
  • More veg – not just potatoes.
  • More wholemeal – less white starch.
  • More lean meat, fish rich in the good kind of fatty acids but easy on the shellfish (cholesterol).
  • Less dairy…. try switching to a milk alternative, I drink oat milk and love it.
  • Less sauces/condiments or make your own – and check out how much oil is in mayonnaise, that will put you off!
  • Camellia’s tea – drink more good quality tea, try cleansing teas such as Green Mint Tea is full of anti-oxidants and helps reduce the bad type of cholesterol, plus mint is a great palate cleanser and great for digestion. Drinking any type of tea, but especially green tea and wellness teas, are a great way to increase hydration and support the reversal of diabetes. 
diabetes awareness
Green Mint Tea

Methods

  • Take a packed lunch and snacks to work.
  • Eat less sugar in general, but don’t fall down the saccharine tunnel.  Your body can’t process it, and it’s not good for you. 
  • Reduce your caffeine intake for a better sleep and therefore a better choice of food so you aren’t always tired. Try Sleep Well Tea at bedtime for the perfect slumber cup and low natural fruit-based sugar teas such as Very Berry Fruit Tea if you need natural sweetness. 
  • Consume slow burning carbs. 
  • Exercise – walk, run, work in the garden and try listening to a podcast.
  • Meditate and if you’re feeling stressed or sad then speak to someone you are comfortable with.
diabetes awareness
Very Berry Fruit Tea

In Corona times we have all learned how precious life is. Let’s learn the lesson. Let’s recognise some common symptoms that come with diabetes and if you think you may have it, then visit your GP. If you have type 2, chances are you can reverse or delay it and that’s the sweetener. 

  1. An unquenchable thirst
  2. A tingling in your hands or feet
  3. Frequent urination
  4. Feeling very hungry
  5. Fatigue
  6. Blurry vision
  7. Cuts or sores that don’t heal properly

People with diabetes are twice as likely to have a stroke, 2.5 times more likely of cardiovascular disease and heart failure! On average 1 in 6 people in hospital are in there with a diabetes complication. 

Like mental health, diabetes awareness is key here. Diabetes is so much more than overeating and belly fat! If you take your own holistic approach to your own wellness, you are taking charge of the rest of your life. If you can’t do it for yourself, do it for the people that love you. If you know someone that needs to read this, then simply forward it on with love, it could save someone’s life. 

A spritzer when the pubs open perhaps? Until next time… make better choices. 

Continue your Wellness journey with Alex’s eight blog Meditation and Mindfulness – Essential Tools & Simple Tips To Keep The Calm In Your Daily Lifestyle.

Great Skin Begins Within

In the sixth blog of our series with Alex Hurt, she explores the topic of healthy skin and establishing a good routine to keep your skin hydrated and well maintained over the summer months.

So.. curl up with your favourite wellness tea, light a candle and read Alex’s musings to put a smile on your face and some goodness into your day.


Summer is on the way, I think we’ve had a pretty good taster recently with some rather spectacular sunny days. British sun seems to catch us all out, and most of us end up lobster-esque as we lose the ability to suitably lotion up. Beautiful skin is born from a few key factors which we will delve into this week.  Paired with our wellness tea of choice, Beautiful Skin Tea, let’s uncover the secrets of a sumptuous summer skin.

Great skin begins within. That’s how we feel about ourselves, our mood, our mantra. Chances are if you are feeling low or run down, you’ll see it in your skin.  This could be a sallow complexion, breakouts, dark circles or even an uneven bumpy skin or an uneven tone. The skin is the body’s largest organ, so chances are when the body is inflamed due to stress, you’ll see it there. This could include eczema, dermatitis or psoriasis which are more chronic conditions and need to be treated differently. Also, what you eat correlates with your skin too, so a healthy enriched diet will more than likely give you a clear vibrant complexion. The more artificial substances you put into your body such as additives, preservatives, colourings and saccharine, this will affect the way your body functions. It will use the water in your body to dilute the toxins and quite possibly leave your skin dehydrated. Whereas a dry skin is a type, a dehydrated skin is a condition. To check if your skin is dehydrated is easy; just place your index finger under your cheekbone and push up, if you can see horizontal lines the skin is dehydrated – which means its lacking water.

Throughout the last few months, one of the most searched and purchased products on the internet is skincare. It seems we have all used this time to seriously start looking after our skin ‘sans’ make up!  As we have basked in the sun, burnt and possibly peeled by now, I’d like to give you a few pointers for great summer skin.

  • Less is more. If you have been wearing less makeup recently, even with the world waking, let’s try and maintain a fresh look, by starting with the cleanse. In my expert opinion, the cleanse is the most important step there is to great skincare. Fail to cleanse correctly or if indeed at all, and there is little point in investing in an unctuous moisturiser. Your skin is acid, so an acid-based cleanser will maintain the balance. Soap is an alkali and will dry the skin, causing an imbalance of oil with a flaky dryness.. and nobody needs that do they!

Personally my 2 favourite cleansers are In The Beginning and Way to Go, both from Temple Spa. Way to go is a facial soap free wash and In The Beginning is a beautiful balm, great for the evening along with an at home spa facial. A facial wash that’s soap free is ideal for the summer, refreshing in the shower and easy to use. I would recommend a balm or a cream cleanser for the evening which is a little more ritualistic and you can spend more time in the evening. A balm makes the most sumptuous of cleanses, and this one has little crystals inside naturally due to the formulation process (so a mini exfoliation every time) and you can even leave it on as a mask. Cleansing really is super important, so if you do nothing else – make sure you cleanse and put on sunscreen.

  • Once or twice a week only, use an exfoliant and concentrate on around the nose, brows and even your hairline where the skin is naturally dry. As the sun kisses our skin and we tan, in order to maintain it, we need to get those skin cells regenerating. A healthy glowing skin doesn’t look dry and flaky, so let’s slough away those cells. We have five layers of skin, so an exfoliant will shed the first 2-3 depending on what you are using. The most commonly used are buffs or scrubs, where the spherical balls roll over the skin and pick it up.  My favourite 2 in 1 product is Power Breakfast by Temple Spa… add a little water to this clay based and super decongesting and cleansing scrub and you can even mask with it. Your skin looks seriously fresh and feels super smooth and subtle after this power house of a product.  Some may prefer an enzyme based exfoliant or even a peel.  Just make sure your skin isn’t too sensitive and you wear an SPF 50 for the face. An exfoliant will ensure that your makeup goes on smoothly, along with your moisturiser to absorb more easily.
  • Mask it.  This depends of course on your skin type, however for summer skin a hydrating mask packed with antioxidant berries and hyaluronic acid would make a great skin tonic.  A mask follows your exfoliation 1-2 times a week and is the perfect finish to a sunny day if you can lock in the moisture as you sleep. A mask is to treat your skin, and target specific concerns. You can map out your skin as it’s common not to have the same skin type over your face, don’t be afraid to get adventurous. If you have an oily T zone (chin, nose and forehead) then use a purifying mask and if you have dry cheeks use a moisturizing mask – make it simple.

When masking it’s the best time to pause, pour yourself a cup of tea and relax. Beautiful Skin Tea is a gorgeously yellow, light tea and is a great hydrator. This herbal tea is infused with chickweed, red clover, nettle and dandelion, which is believed to promote a healthy and clear skin throughout the body. This brew is your ideal afternoon accompaniment, knowing that you are looking after your skin, both inside and out. Its sweet chamomile flavour is well balanced with elderflower and hints of nettle.  It smells and tastes like a summer’s day.

  • Moisturise. For the summer time I recommend a moisturiser with a humectant. This means the clever ingredients attract the environment’s moisture to the skin, maintaining the levels of moisture throughout the day. Or, a time release moisturiser would also work incredibly well. Don’t over moisturise the areas that don’t need it, your skin won’t thank you and you’ll end up wasting your product.
  • Finishing touches – Don on a sun screen SPF 50 for the face, along with a hat. Remember one of the #1 causes of aging is the sun, so if you’re going to expose your skin, keep your face safe. Stay away from foundations, and stick to a BB cream or even a light dusting of bronzer.  Allow your skin to breathe, try not to clog up those clean pores, especially over summer when you’ll be sweating more.

A bowl of berries a day, lots of water, salads and sunlight will help our body and soul to sing. Happiness is a great tonic for the skin, doing all those wonderful new hobbies you’ve discovered in lockdown. The attitude of gratitude will also make you glow from the inside out. Vitamins packed into fruits will keep your immunity levels high along with your stamina for returning to work.

Great Skin Begins Within

No matter what you do this summer, be kind to you and your skin.

Summer Loving from Suffolk!

Continue your Wellness journey with Alex’s seventh blog The Sweetener!.

The World Is Waking

In the fifth blog of our series with Alex Hurt, she explores the topic of emotional awareness and guidance as the world of retail opens up and some of us start to return to work, as well as celebrating Father’s Day on the 21st June.

So.. curl up with your favourite wellness tea, light a candle and read Alex’s musings to put a smile on your face and some goodness into your day.


The world is waking up, it’s a little grumpy and lethargic. The shops have finally opened as we see the doors welcoming us to our favourite retailers, we also see those gigantic lines. I can’t but help thinking, I’d rather stay locked down without the hassle. However, the last few weeks have brought unrest, fraught views, some peaceful and some not so peaceful protests.. the worlds alarm is definitely going off, and it’s one giant wake up call. Are we slowly easing our way back? For some this will be harder than others, however I think we can most definitely expect mixed emotions over the coming weeks, along with some aches, pains and tiredness as we move from one phase to the next.

For a little emotional guidance post pandemic, I think we all need a helping hand… so I would like to introduce you to my wellness tea choice is Balance tea – an emotional rock of a tea, infused with raspberry leaf which helps to ease those monthly cramps. This stunning unique blend also with lime flower is the ultimate ingredient to reduce high blood pressure, nervous tension, headaches and even digestive issues. No matter how you’re feeling right now, this beautiful blend is your best friend!

As the new dawn approaches and we navigate our way through our own emotions it got me thinking, how on earth are we going to fair getting back into a routine? How will we ever get up when the alarm goes off, dress in anything other than elasticated clothes and get anywhere before lunch time?  That’s all before we can even consider going back to work 8 plus hours a day. I am exhausted just thinking about it. Since we have all been lockdown, we have been moving about less (apart from all the people who have taken up running and cycling- maniacs!) I for one have noticed joint stiffness more than ever, and when chatting with friends so have they. Some days I can be full of beans and others I get tired tying my shoelaces and frankly I am a little concerned of how I will ever leave the house.

For many of us this has been a time of reflection, the place we have tried to find the route to for years. The time this has allowed us to spend either alone with our thoughts, and indeed our organisational house and garden creation skills, or time with your nearest, and dare I say dearest after being locked in? So, how does one prepare to wake up? Do you just do it? Can you go from 0-60? I am afraid I can’t. I can share with you that immunity is EVERYTHING! Whether that be what you put in your body to strengthen it, or your mind… think about it.  Are you taking vitamins?  A vitamin rich diet, doesn’t necessarily include cake mixture, however it does include all that is leafy and green. If you haven’t thought about how to build yourself up, then perhaps start to consider vitamin C with zinc – perfect immunity booster, magnesium for the mind, omega 3 for the joints as a starting point.  You will need strength to return, and more than you can possibly imagine.

Emotionally I think we all miss the interaction and routine that our previous lives provided. The getting up and showing up and even the dressing up for a sense of purpose. These days I’ve never seen so many well-dressed people at the supermarket. Now I’m expecting to see a catwalk on the high street! I find a bright lip shade brings sunshine to the party, and when I’m feeling like a need a pick-me-up ill always reach for red (lipstick that is). The ‘new normal‘ is about perspective, and how we all interpret ‘the rules’. I think the best way is to take small steps and identify the risk.  It’s pretty simple, don’t go where lots of people are if you can avoid it. If you can’t, then be aware of the risks, measure them and take them only when necessary. If you are tubing it, or using public transport it is really the time to think about building immunity. Immunity teas, essential oils and vitamins are key, along with your PPE. Bergamot, grapefruit, lavender, lemon, myrrh, rosemary, tea tree, thyme are all essential oils to use in a burner or mix with a carrier oil to assist with immunity. Just 3-5 drops in a burner or an electric diffuser will work. Nature is nurture after all.

Healthy Immunity Tea is ideal to have at work and makes for a refreshing break in your day.  Packed with anti-viral and anti-bacterial ingredients it’s also ideal for hangovers. Warm, sweet and woody, this hibiscus and ginger mix calms the mind and supports the body.

The World Is Waking

The waking ritual… you knew it was coming.

  1. Set your alarm – this is a practice run.
  2. Get up, yes, you have to.
  3. Breakfast – not the lazy Saturday kind.
  4. Get dressed in something that has a zip or buttons.
  5. Leave the house before 9am.
  6. Are you tired yet?
  7. Eat lunch but don’t sit down for an afternoon nap- where ever you are.
  8. Make sure you take some deep breaths about 3.30pm you are still out of the house.
  9. I hope you’ve packed a drink to keep you going… perhaps a chilled wellness tea?
  10. Positive podcast on the way home… Happy Place with Fearne Cotton is a firm favourite.
  11. You did it! Now cook dinner.

Whatever your day looks like, give a day a purpose and get practicing for work or perhaps you’ve now returned to work? This time has been a tonic, juxtaposed with disaster, so it’s very difficult to wrap your head around it.  Mental wellness is now key, so as we warm up, along with the summer for the world waking, be kind to yourself, be patient and be good to your body.  You only get one, and your mind will control your body so be selective about what you listen to. Remember what you learned in lockdown, what you enjoyed; don’t let that go.

Annnnd a special reminder… it’s Father’s Day on June 21st!  For dads, or dad like figures that love a cup of tea there’s some amazing choices with Camelia’s Wellness Tea Gift Ideas. Until next time… Happy shopping!

Continue your Wellness Journey with Alex’s sixth blog Great Skin Begins Within.