The World of Herbal Tea
Herbal Teas have been around for thousands of years. Herbal may include flowers, leaves, seeds, fruits, tree bark, roots, and spices. The word tea being used here to denote the ingredients being steeped in hot water. The designation of herbal simply separates it from “true tea” meaning anything derived from the Camellia Sinensis plant such as black, green, white, or oolong tea.
Herbal teas can be less commonly referred to as a tisane, which is an archaic Greek term that was reintroduced by the French in the 20th century being interpreted as medicinal drink. These herbal concoctions have a long history in China and Egypt as being enjoyable and health-promoting.
How many different herbal teas are there?
To be honest, there are more herbal teas than I care to list in this article. Basically, if you can eat it or extract nutrients from it then someone has tried to steep it in hot water. Better use of our time would be to break herbal teas up into a few categories and give a few examples of the most popular herbal teas found throughout the world. For a more comprehensive list of herbal tea please see the internet.
We are going to break the teas up into the categories we previously mentioned above. We will list some of the most popular teas from those categories and talk about some of the health benefits and where to find them. The overarching benefit of herbal teas is that they are caffeine-free. Also, it is important to note that many of these herbal ingredients can be combined into an infusion of tea, which also means an infusion of flavor, nutrients, and health benefits.
Chamomile – The daisy-looking flower is dried and then steeped in hot water. For ages, chamomile tea has been used as a folk remedy for much that ails us. It’s most notably popular for aiding in sleep and relaxation. And for you ladies, there is some evidence that chamomile tea can help reduce menstrual pain.
Hibiscus – This tea can be made from a combination of dried hibiscus flowers, leaves, or calyces, which is the dark red center of the flower, this is the most common ingredient in hibiscus tea. Hibiscus tea is packed with antioxidants and other health-promoting compounds.
Lavender and Rose – Lavender buds and rose petals, buds or rose hips can be steeped in hot water to provide a unique flavor and health benefits. Both flowers are full of antioxidants and have been known to aid sleep and reduce menstrual pain.
Peppermint – The leaves of the peppermint plant are dried and then steeped to make a delicious and refreshing tea. It is known to relieve headaches, clear sinuses, and freshen breath. Other mint plants are also used as herbal ingredients.
Lemongrass – Also known as citronella, this citrus-flavored plant with its lemony aroma is used in herbal and non-herbal teas to add flavor and increase health benefits such as promote sleep, reduce pain and boost your immunity as well as your spirit.
Lemon Verbena – The leaves, as well as the flowering tops of this plant, are steeped to produce a citrusy aroma and a lemony flavor. It is most widely known to aid in digestion and reduce stress and anxiety.
Eucalyptus – This Australian tree leaf is used in tea known to treat cold and flu-like symptoms when the steam is inhaled. However, it can also be added to tea as a soothing tonic, added flavor, and nutrients.
Holy Basil (Tulsi) – This amazing herb is used in detox teas. It is rich in vitamin K which is a fat-soluble micronutrient that supports a healthy heart and aid in bone mineralization. It is known to reduce respiratory and gastrointestinal issues as well as reduce stress and anxiety.
Ginger – This root can be found in many tea infusions, but it has long been used in herbal teas. It is most notable for reducing nausea, aiding digestion, and reducing muscle pain and soreness.
Chicory – This root is known for its generally bitter, woodsy flavor similar to coffee. It is used in herbal tea to add a depth of flavor and nutrients. It is full of a water-soluble fiber known as inulin which can help aid digestion.
Beetroot – Beets are known for their health benefits when eaten, but many of those same benefits can be obtained when steeped. Beetroot tea is known to be a great blood purifier that helps promote healthy skin. It is also good for digestion.
Citrus Fruit – Just like the fruit themselves, when these are added to herbals tea they not only increased the flavor profile adding some sour or sweetness, but they also are high in vitamin C which helps keep your skin elasticity and boost your immune system.
Berries – These bright and beautiful fruits are used in tea to add a balance of sweetness and tart which pairs perfectly with hibiscus tea which is generally a bit tart, so the berries add a complimentary flavor. Berries are full of antioxidants which can help you fight off inflammation and cancer.
Summing up Herbal Tea
Let’s face it, true tea is not for everyone all the time. Herbal teas can be a great alternative to anyone who may be sensitive to caffeine and is especially great for children. Herbal teas can offer some of the same great benefits as tea just without the jitters.
In addition, there are some other herbal teas not mentioned here such as rooibos teas and yerba mates. Rooibos teas are also caffeine-free and have their own unique flavor and benefits. Yerba mate is definitely not caffeine-free, but can also be considered an herbal tea since it isn’t derived from the tea plant.