The Big O

Everything I have ever wanted to ask about tea is answered below by my favourite naturopath & business woman, Anthia Koullouros.  The first thing you notice about Anthia is her calming nature and almost soft energy, which is exactly what you expect from a nutritional expert. It becomes immediately obvious that she is not only highly educated but extremely passionate about helping people, especially without the typical complicated prescriptions.

I am a huge tea drinker (and coffee which btw I have heard I need to cut back on) and I love learning about natural healing and health benefits from products that are easy to incorporate into my hectic lifestyle.

Make sure you read down to the bottom of the page for some amazingly delicious tea recipes!!

Jill: Where do you get your inspiration from?  Is it Chinese medicine or European herbs?

Anthia: It’s European herbal medicine. Its what they call Western Herbal Medicine.  As part of my studies we also studied some Chinese Medicine. We use different ingredients from different cultures.

Jill: That’s so interesting that it’s a combination of different cultures. How many tea blends do you have?

Anthia: We have over 38 and it’s growing.  If we are going to be the botanical herbal experts we need to have a very good offering and why not own the honest tea space!  I figured I have been a herbalist for such long time and a naturopath – and naturopaths use herbal medicine as a modality to transition clients from ill health to good health. Helping detox, calm and restore.  We also create blends that aren’t just for therapy – even though they are a tea with purpose we create blends that taste good.  We hate the thought of someone drinking something nasty.


Jill: There have been a lot of questions lately around safety of tea and adulteration with people sourcing ingredients from China – how do consumers gain confidence from your tea and what sets yours apart?

Anthia: We scrutinise our suppliers but we also have to because we are certified organic by the ACO (Australian Certified Organic body) so every ingredient we buy has to be approved by the ACO. It has to come from a farm that is also certified organic and approved by the ACO. But then we go beyond that – we will get certified organic ingredients from around the world, whichever country specialises in that particular ingredient, we will get it in and we will determine whether we like it because, the grade, cut, colour, or smell, may not be up to our standards.  We will knock back alot because the criteria for us isn’t just about being organic, it about being grown in the right season and for it to be full flavored. So we taste our peppermint & the menthol and its really cooling on the lips and and you smell it, and it just opens up the airways …And we taste out lemon myrtle and it’s got the most yummy lemony’iest of all the lemon herbs …And when you get a big bag of certified organic rose petals from Egypt and you open up the bag you just want to dive in – especially if you love rose.

Jill: So what sort of regulations are there around teas?

Anthia: We instill a lot of the regulations ourselves but there are the certified organic regulations… but the rest of it is really up to us.  As a herbalist, I create a blend that is therapeutic, because thats my study of herbal medicine but apart from that it falls under the category of foods and we can’t make therapeutic claims, so we don’t.  We will instead state ‘these ingredients have traditionally been used for’ but it hasn’t gone to the TGA to state that it’s a supplement as such.

Jill: So the way that you recommend teas is that it may or may not assist with with certain health issues?

Anthia: We say it will be based on certain clinical evidence, as I’ve been in practice for 22 years. Tea ingredients are researched very well – which comes back to the study of herbal medicine & constituent medicine; if we know that the active constituent that has an anti-inflammatory action or an anti-oxidant action, it can assist with arthritis, digestion, etc.  Then because of my clinical experience, we can make recommendations on top. But that’s a very good question because anyone can create a herbal tea company and anyone can put the word ‘organic’ and it may not be certified – you  see a lot of it.

Jill:  It’s funny how much I have actually heard of this happening.  Do you think that your quality is reflected in your price point?

Anthia: Yes – it’s expensive to source organic ingredients. Our margins aren’t that high, but it’s really hard! Sometimes we’ll be out of an ingredient and we just can’t make a particular blend… but when we see it out there, we know someone is cutting corners. We are very transparent – you can trace back everything. We have to have farm certificates – the whole lot. I’m particularly neurotic about things in general, so my team knows organic from top to bottom is the only way we can operate.

Jill: Why do you think it’s important in today’s society to detox?

Anthia: Because I think we are exposed to alot more pollutants than ever before. Products we use on our body – make up, beauty, personal care, what we brush our teeth with.  Even products we use for cleaning, laundry, dry cleaning, other chemicals such as nail polish, hair colour – these chemicals can accumulate in out systems. And yes, our bodies detox, that it’s job.  We have organs for detoxification such as our skin, our lymphatic system, our liver, our kidneys – but it’s assisting that process basically.

Jill: Are there any adverse side effects to cleansing?

Anthia: Yes, depending on the cleanse. Yes if you fasted or chose one particular medium to cleanse. For instance if you did a juice fast for 20 or 30 or 40 days, yes there is an issue if you don’t sustain a cleanse with good food practices – that’s dangerous. If a cleanse doesn’t teach you to eat well for the rest of you life, it’s not sustainable. And you don’t know what those cleanses will do to someone’s liver, what medication they are on, if they are on the pill could it affect contraception effectiveness – and often that’s not thought of. People don’t think ‘what if i took that ingredient and didn’t eat…’

Jill: In terms of reactions to cleanses – what about things like headaches or rashes – can these be a reaction to a detox?

Anthia: I think yes – and it all depends on what you are detoxing so if you were a coffee drinker and drank 3 to 4 cups a day, yeah most likely you’re going to get a caffeine withdrawal. You’ll feel brain fog and sluggish, low energy, headaches but that should only last for a few days. It’s just pushing through it.

Jill: So are you suggesting that it’s a lifestyle change or do you think cleansing sporadically is beneficial?

Anthia: I think it’s a lifestyle change and thats why I created the 21 day seasonal cleanse programs.  That way every season you have an opportunity to cleanse and reset.  But you’re right, it is more of a lifestyle change. It’s an opportunity to prepare yourself for the change of season, often with the season change people get sick or they’ll get allergies or hives so their immune system might be a bit weak. Or it’s preparing for the Festive season. Or it’s about weight loss. Specific things that occur with the change of season.

Jill: Weight loss & beauty – can you get some direct benefits from cleansing?

Anthia: Yes. I think with a cleanse there is an opportunity to eliminate ingredients that either are inflammatory or retain fluid – things like gluten and sugar. So suddenly you might feel slimmer. But also sugar is very aging. When we cleanse we are also introducing more nutrient dense foods like fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E, K2 which is excellent for skin and I incorporate lots of healthy bone stock broth which is rich in collagen, not only anti inflamatory but collagen is what we make up skin with. Basically what we are resetting is we are replacing processed foods (devoid of nutrition and full of additives) with real nutrient dense food and you watch your body just eliminate with what we’ve evolved to eat.

Jill: Do you believe tea can replace supplements?

Anthia:  I see teas, or herbal medicines or herbal supplements as a means to help support the transition from ill health to health depending on the actions the herbs have. So not so much teas by themselves but herbs in any form whether it be herbs in cooking or herbs in a tonic bitter form that people drink, which is much more potent way of taking herbs in medicine which is whats in my apothecary over there. Do they replace supplements? Some can because they are nutrient dense and they are rich in iron and minerals – depends on what the supplement is really. I prefer to use food a medicine and herbs as medicine – absolutely over any synthetic supplement.

Jill: Do you think tea and herbs are also better because of the ease of fitting these into our lives, as opposed to taking supplements?

Anthia: I think so.  It’s very easy.  And thats why we’ve made sure that they also taste delicious as well.  Not just therapeutic so that it is sustainable.

Jill: Do you recommend different teas for men and women?

Anthia: Yes, if we are looking at male reproductive health or for prostate health – yes there are different ingredients for those men of course. But generally speaking if we are looking at digestive or immunity, that’s universal.

Jill: And finally, what does your typical day look like with tea?

Anthia: A Lot of tea.  Usually it begins with an english breakfast tea and then I’ll work my way up to whatever takes my fancy and whatever I feel like at the time.  That could include iced teas, hot teas, but it could also include new blends that I’ve created or new blends that I’m trialing.  Or even just single ingredients that my team has sourced and have asked me to try – there might be 3 lemon myrtles that I’m trialing but it all adds up.  I always have a digestive tea after dinner and a bedtime tea, but that’s about it. I could drink tea instead of water all day because teas are as hydrating at water, as long as they are caffeine free. But with the added benefits of tea.


Head over to Ovvio Organics blog to check out their Summer iced tea recipes!

Thanks Anthia!!


Anthia Koullouros


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