Author Mimi Kirk helps you ‘Tea-Vitalize’ your life.
Story: Victoria Schlabig
At age 70, Mimi Kirk became PETA’s first-ever “Sexiest Vegetarian Over 50.” Now 81, Mimi credits her youthfulness to her healthy lifestyle. Not only is she a vegetarian, but she also stays active with Pilates and drinks three full jars of her homemade cold brew tea every day. She believes tea is an even better way to get your daily water intake, and it tastes great, too.
Before publishing “Tea-Vitalize: Cold Brew Teas and Herbal Infusions to Refresh and Rejuvenate” in 2019, Mimi had previously published a small book about hydration and water and a recipe book about vegan dog food. Her publishers proposed a second book about hydration, but she started considering teas instead and what makes them unique. Mimi has always preferred tea over coffee and got hooked on cold brew tea once she discovered it.
She ended up writing “Tea-Vitalize,” and her publishers loved it. It’s the favorite book she’s written, too, because of the many benefits of tea.
“It changed my skin when I started drinking it. It tasted so good, it helped me hydrate myself better than just trying to force myself to drink water,” Mimi says. “It’s so delicious, you drink it down like it would be a soft drink, you love it so much.”
She did a lot of experimenting with different teas while writing her book, and as she saw her skin improving, she got even more excited. People who were drinking her teas told her they were losing weight because they were drinking more water, and tea also helps with digestion and has healing properties.
She points out that “you’re not allowed to, in America, say that it heals you or it could help with cancer or anything, but it does.” Tea has been around for centuries, and people all over the world have used it for healing.
“You can’t throw ancient wisdom out the door,” Mimi says.
She made the switch to cold brew teas after reading an article that said sun tea often contains bacteria. She often made sun tea for her kids when they were growing up and joked that it’s a miracle they’re still here.
“I’ve read some scientific proof that the minerals in (cold brew) tea go to the right places in your body so you actually are getting hydrated, where sometimes when you’re drinking water, it’s not really hydrating you,” Mimi says.
Her personal favorite teas are dependent on what fruits she has available to infuse. She likes to keep green tea as a staple because she believes it is one of the healthiest. Her favorite is hibiscus tea infused with ice cubes that have blackberries in them. It’s one of the prettiest teas, she says, and she often serves it with bubbly water when she has company over. She also tries mixing different herbal teas and fruit teas and likes to make a few each night so she has a variety for the next day.
While the bulk of her book includes recipes about cold brew teas, fruit infusion waters, hot tea and even kombucha, a fermented tea, Mimi also explains why tea is so beneficial to our overall health and why we should make it a daily habit.
The book contains a glossary of ailments, so whether you’re experiencing cramps, a cold or anything else with your body, you can refer to it and find out what may help. Just like hot ginger tea with lemon soothes you when you have a cold, Mimi believes that cold teas can help in hot weather or when you’re working out, too, because the tea hydrates better than water alone.
“I think taste is very important, but the biggest thing for me is health; what is going to keep me healthy and vibrant? I can feel that the teas have added a lot more nutrients to my body,” she says.
“I understand that people are always afraid of getting older, and that’s what I can offer people. I experimented with myself and I eat a certain way and I feel like all the time, honestly, I’m getting younger. I’m full of vitality and energy and I just can hardly believe it myself,” Mimi adds, excitedly.
Her hope is that her book will inspire people to try some of her lifestyle suggestions.
“Every step you take to better your health, it works. It doesn’t go unnoticed. Your body notices it, and your mind notices it,” Mimi says.
You’re never too old to start taking care of your health, and even something as simple as adding tea to your daily routine may give you some of the youth and vitality that Mimi enjoys at 81.
Benefits of tea
These staple ingredients may aid many ailments:
Sage: Alzheimer’s, asthma, anti-inflammatory, bacterial infection, brain function, colds, diabetes type 2, memory, rosacea, skin disorders, sore throat, stress reducer, thyroid, weight loss.
Turmeric: allergies, arthritis, asthma, brain function, colitis, cystitis, fibromyalgia, flu, gallbladder/gallstones, liver, memory, mental clarity/performance, pancreatitis, rheumatism.
Spearmint: bad breath, circulation, digestion, fever, gas and gastrointestinal, hyperactivity/ADHD, immune system, nausea, stress reducer.
Ginger: allergies, anti-inflammatory, arthritis, asthma, bacterial infection, brain function, bronchitis, bloating, cellular health, circulation, colitis, congestion, detoxifier, diuretic, energizing, fatigue, fever, fibromyalgia, flu, gallbladder, gastrointestinal, hair health, headaches, IBS, joint pain, liver, memory, nausea, mental clarity/performance, psoriasis, rheumatism, sinus, toxemia.
Source: “Tea-Vitalize: Cold Brew Teas and Herbal Infusions to Refresh and Rejuvenate,” by Mimi Kirk
SAGE HOT WATER INFUSION + BLACKBERRY
- 8 ounces filtered water
- 2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves or 1 tablespoon dried or 1 sage tea bag
- ¼ cup blackberries
Place the water and sage leaves or tea bag in a lidded pot and lightly simmer over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Shut off the heat, cover and steep for 8-10 minutes. Strain out the leaves or removed the bag. Place the blackberries in a cup and pour the infusion over them. Crush the blackberries with a spoon to release their sweetness. Be sure to eat the blackberries after you finish your drink to receive all their benefits.
SPEARMINT HOT WATER INFUSION + LAVENDER
- 8 ounces filtered water
- 4 sprigs fresh spearmint, 1 tablespoon loose leaves or 2 spearmint tea bags
- A generous pinch of culinary lavender buds
Boil the water just until medium-size bubbles start to appear. Place the fresh mint and lavender in a heatproof glass. Allow the water to cool slightly, put a spoon in the glass and slowly pour the water over the spoon. Let 1 or 2 inches of water warm the glass before filling with the balance of the hot water. The spoon helps conduct away some of the heat to prevent the glass from breaking. Let steep for 8-10 minutes. Mint leaves do not have to be removed while drinking but strain out the lavender. Alternatively, if using a spearmint tea bag, lightly boil the water in a lidded pot, turn off the heat, add the tea bag and lavender, cover and steep for 3-4 minutes. Remove the bag and strain out the buds.
DRIED APPLE HOT WATER INFUSION + LEMON + CINNAMON
- 16 ounces filtered water
- ½ cup organic dried apples (no sugar or sulfur)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Juice of ½ lemon, rind reserved
Place the water, dried apples and cinnamon stick in a pot. Simmer over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover and let steep for another 10 minutes. Add the lemon juice and peel. Store in a thermos to drink throughout the day.
THYME HOT WATER INFUSION + LEMON + CINNAMON BARK
- 8 ounces filtered water
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, ½ teaspoon dried or 1 thyme tea bag
- 1 lemon slice
- 1 1-inch piece cinnamon bark
- Sweetener (optional)
Combine the water and thyme leaves or bag, lemon and cinnamon bark in a lidded pot and lightly simmer over medium-low heat for 5-7 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover the pot and steep for 4-5 minutes. Strain out the leaves (or remove the bag), lemon and cinnamon. Pour the infusion into a cup, add sweetener if desired, and enjoy.
*Recipes and photos used with permission from “Tea-Vitalize,” by Mimi Kirk