Time to Clean

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Rooibos leaf is grown in the Western Cape province of South Africa. It's a caffeine-free antioxidant that, when dried and boiled, brews a nutty tea. South Africans mix it with milk and sugar. Milk-thistle seed is used to protect the liver from damage done to it by booze and bad blood. Cowboys chewed on sarsaparilla root in Western times; it is the original flavoring for root beer. Word is that it helps skin maladies and has been used as a syphilis treatment. Dandelion root is dandelion root. Chicory root serves as a natural laxative, and the Romans thought it an effective blood purifier. Burdock root apparently helps the scalp and strengthens the hair.

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The end result? Let's do the math. Drop a bag into hot water, let it steep for seven minutes, and you'll be drinking a caffeine-free antioxidant that cleanses your liver, fights your ever-worsening syphilis, helps you poop, purifies your blood and strengthens your locks.

Not a bad deal for 27 cents (a 36-bag canister costs $9.99 at Whole Foods. Made by the Republic of Tea, Get Clean is part of the company's clumsily named Be Well Red Teas brand, all of which contain as rooibos leaf as their core ingredient (Get Lost for weight control, Get A Grip for PMS/menopause, Get It Going for regularity, etc.).

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The best part? With all those good-for-you ingredients, you'd expect it to taste like the canister. But I have to admit it's not bad. All of those roots and leaves combine to create a tea with the strong flavor of almond and vanilla, with a back end of hazelnut. It's naturally sweet, and mixed with a little milk it tastes like something you'd drink because it's bad for you, not something you'd drink to wash away the bad-good stuff you've been drinking.

True beauty comes from within. But when it comes to clear skin, some of us can use a little help. So here's good news: this organic, rooibos-based, naturally caffeine-free tea blend is brimming with antioxidants - your skin's best friend. Here's another tea to give a try in 2009.

If it were only as simple as a cup of tea......

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