Herbal tea is a popular and beloved drink thanks to its soothing nature, natural taste, and promised health benefits. Most people drink it warm as they start or finish their busy day, while others have it cold in between meals. Many think of it as one of the healthiest teas and best teas around. However, you’ll soon discover more about herbal tea that’s sure to surprise and excite both regular and casual consumers alike.
In this article, we’ll look into all there is to know about herbal teas! What are they, how do you make one, what are the types, and what are its benefits. We’ll also share with you some of the best herbal tea recipes you can try, depending on your need. Now, get your mugs and kettles ready, and let’s get right into it.
What Is Herbal Tea?
Herbal tea, or tisane, are drinks made from leaves, roots, bark, berries, seeds, and spices of various plants, from dried flowers to fruits. Because of this variety, there are many kinds of tisane or herbal tea flavors you can choose from! The most popular types of tisane include chamomile tea, peppermint tea, hibiscus tea, and ginger tea.
Nowadays, tisane is drunk and enjoyed all over the world. A lot of people enjoy it paired with dishes like sweet Vanilla Bean Crepes or some savory Zucchini Pork Dumplings! However, you may have seen people drink tisane when they’re not feeling well, have a cold, or sore throat.
Brief History of Tisane
This isn’t surprising since the origins of drinking herbal tea were partly medicinal in purpose. In fact, tisanes have been around for hundreds (if not thousands) of years, with origins dating back to Ancient Egypt and China. Traces of peppermint tea were found in many Egyptian pyramids, while records of medicinal herbal tea from China exist until today.
In these historic societies, tisanes were drunk to help treat illnesses or alleviate their symptoms. Peppermint can help provide relief for headache, stress, irritable bowel syndrome, and even prostate cancer.
Meanwhile, Chinese herbal tea called “leung cha” was said to help address all kinds of health problems. Some of its staple ingredients were the round leaf holly, thin evodia, heal-all herbs, bittermelon, and dandelion. All these ingredients worked together to help relieve sore throat and mouth ulcers, boost immunity, improve digestion, and lower blood pressure.
Tisane vs Tea
Now, you may be wondering why the Chinese herbal tea leung cha doesn’t contain any tea leaves. That’s because despite its name, tisanes are not tea! There are many different types of teas out there, but tisanes or herbal teas are not one of them.
Real tea drinks all come from one plant: the Camellia Sinensis. The Camellia Sinensis (also known as tea plant) is an evergreen shrub or small tree which is native to Asia. It’s the tea plant’s leaves and buds that are used to make drinks like Earl Grey, Oolong, and Chai tea.
All the different types of tea come from the same source. However, it’s the processing of the tea leaves that sets to give each type its distinct flavor. To get chai and Classic Milk Tea’s black tea, the leaves are oxidized to achieve a rich, dark color. White tea, on the other hand, is left to dry out. Meanwhile, tea leaves used for oolong are shaken in bamboo baskets until lightly bruised and dried.
Tisanes aren’t made from the Camellia Sinensis’ tea leaves. Instead, they are made from “infusing” various plant materials with hot water. That’s where the word tisane comes from, which is French for the phrase “herbal infusion”.
Does Herbal Tea Have Caffeine?
No, tisanes do not have caffeine. Tea leaves’ caffeine content ranges from green tea’s 35 milligrams to black tea’s whopping 90 milligrams. But since herbal teas don’t use such leaves, they generally have zero caffeine. Ergo, they’re like caffeine free tea, making tisanes safe for drinking before bed! This also makes them a great alternative for those who want a warm drink, but don’t want to ingest any caffeine.
How To Make Herbal Tea
There are two ways to make herbal tea: through infusion or decoction.
We’ve previously mentioned how tisanes are made by way of infusion. Infusion, or steeping, involves pouring boiling water over plant material. This method is the most common way of making organic herbal teas.
Decoction, on the other hand, involves placing the plant material in boiling water to release more flavor and essential oils.
Whether you do infusion or decoction depends on which kind of plant material you’re using. Seeds, leaves, and flowers are usually made into herbal tea by way of infusion. Meanwhile, bark, roots, and berries一which have tougher and smaller surfaces一go through the decoction method.
Brewing time will also depend on the type of material used for making your drink. Some herbal tea recipes like this Lavender Herb Tea have a short brewing time of around 2 to 5 minutes. Others have it longer, like this Hot Cranberry Citrus Drink which needs to be steeped for up to 20 minutes. Although generally, medicinal herbal tea requires a longer steeping time of around 15 minutes to get the fullest brew.
Instructions on how to make tisane will differ based on the ingredients used. However, be careful when making any herbal tea using aluminum pots! This material can react negatively with herbs and other plant materials, resulting in a toxic drink. So, steer clear of them when brewing.
Lastly, if you’re making tisane for medicinal purposes, it’s best to brew the plant materials while covered with a lid. While you could still steep without covering, you won’t get the most potent herbal drink. Doing so allows all the important essential oils containing medicinal properties to remain inside the brew.
Types Of Herbal Tea
The types of tisane are categorized depending on which part of the plant it comes from. Some major types of herbal tea include the flower, leaf, root, bark, seed or spice, and fruit or berry tisanes.
Some examples of leaf tisanes are mint tea, tulsi tea, and Lemongrass Tea. The popular chamomile, lavender, and hibiscus tea are flower tisanes. Meanwhile, the well-loved cinnamon and black cherry are examples of bark tisanes.
Ginger tea, Valerian Root Tea, and Licorice Root Tea are a few types of root tisanes. Any fruit, from blueberries, raspberries, peach, apple, and kiwifruits, made into herbal drinks are fruit (or berry) tisanes. Lastly, cardamom, caraway, and fennel tea are seed and spice tisanes.
Sometimes, some herbal tea blends contain two or more plant parts. Take, for example, this Ginger Cinnamon Tea Recipe which uses both the ginger root and cinnamon bark. Other tisane can also be made with stems, moss, and other similar plant material. In fact, kombucha is often thought of as tisane, although it is technically closer to yeast and bacteria.
Another way of categorizing tisanes can depend on their purpose. Medicinal herbal drinks like Chinese herbal tea or leung cha are more of a remedy than a beverage for pleasure. Not all of these necessarily have the best taste, with leung cha’s flavors being bitter and medicinal-tasting. However, some herbal drinks, like Chamomile tea, have both a great taste and potential health benefits!
Here are 9 Benefits Of Herbal Tea
There are many reasons to drink herbal tea. It’s relatively easy to make and has a refreshing natural taste. It also doesn’t have caffeine, so you can drink it even at night. However, one of the main reasons for loving tisane tea would be for its promised health benefits. So, what does herbal tea do? As said before, many herbal drinks were originally drunk for medicinal purposes. But what are some of these? We’ll now list the top 9 benefits of drinking tisane!
Calming and Relaxing Effect
After drinking a warm cup of tisane, it’s almost automatic to suddenly feel more relaxed and calm. Many point to this effect as one major reason for why they drink them after a long and tiring day.
Indeed, tisanes’ calming and relaxing effect is already a well-known selling point. In this way, they’re also known to be helpful to those who have sleeping issues. If you have insomnia or have been feeling restless lately, drinking tisane can help calm you, making it easier for you to fall asleep.
Helps Boost the Immune System
Many credited tisanes in helping boost one’s immune system. Certain herbal teas’ ingredients have antioxidants, vitamins, as well as antifungal and antibacterial properties that can help strengthen a person’s immune system. This is partly the reason why those who feel like they’ll get a fever or a cold drink tisanes.
Helps Lessen Pain
Some tisanes’ ingredients also have anti-inflammatory properties that can help lessen the feeling of pain brought on by certain illnesses. In particular, they could help lessen pain experienced in the joint or muscle areas.
Can Help Prevent Development of Certain Diseases
In addition to helping boost the immune system, some herbal tea ingredients’ antioxidants can also help prevent chronic diseases. That’s because antioxidants can target and remove “free radicals” that damage cells and cause illnesses. Certain herbs, like the heal-all herb from China, could also help lower blood pressure. It’s one of the reasons why they included herbs in making medicinal herbal drinks.
Herbal teas are also known to help improve digestion! They do these by helping to eliminate free radicals in the stomach, strengthening stomach muscles, and lessening acid reflux. Tisane can also help improve the digestive tract’s blood flow.
Those who are on a herbal tea diet will be happy to know that, like water, tisanes have zero calories! On its own, herbal teas are calorie-free. They’re a suitable alternative drink for people who are looking after their caloric intake. Of course, while tisanes are calorie-free, usual sweeteners, like sugar and honey, aren’t. So, if you’re drinking herbal tea for its zero-calorie content, it’s better to skip the sweeteners.
Has Anti-Aging Properties
The antioxidants present in herbal tea ingredients also have anti-aging properties. These antioxidants not only eliminate free radicals that damage cells. By eliminating free radicals, they also prevent the body’s cells from being damaged and from aging. This gives its consumers a healthier and younger look and feel.
Good for Skin Health
Many used herbal teas as an alternative treatment for acne. Certain teas, like chamomile and rooibos, helped treat skin diseases because of their antioxidants and antibacterial properties. And because of tisanes’ anti-aging properties, your skin health will get vastly improved as well.
Promotes Brain Function
Last but not least is tisanes’ ability to boost brain function. Drinking herbal teas does this by increasing blood flow to the brain. This allows your brain to get a sufficient amount of nutrients and oxygen to help you think properly. So, those who need help focusing and attaining clarity of mind can definitely benefit from drinking tisane!
Best Types of Herbal Teas to Drink
Now you know the major benefits of drinking herbal teas. This time, we’ll share with you which ones you should try depending on your need.
Herbal Tea For Anxiety
Feeling stressed and anxious lately? Chamomile, lemon balm, and passionflower tea are just some of the tisanes that can help. These teas have calming and relaxing effects that can reduce your feelings of stress and anxiety.
If you’re having trouble falling asleep, valerian tea also has properties that are naturally sedative. This can help you sleep faster, and can improve your quality of sleep.
Herbal Tea For Weight Loss
South Africa’s rooibos tea, or redbush tea, has been hinted to help promote weight loss. One study done on obese rats showed that rooibos tea was able to increase their fat metabolism. This means that it was able to speed up the breakdown of fats. It also blocked the rat subjects’ fat cells from even forming!
They may seem impressive. However, it’s important to note that these experiments used animal subjects and not humans. Still, it won’t hurt to try some rooibos tea while you’re on your weight loss journey.
Herbal Tea For Constipation
Senna, peppermint, ginger, dandelion, licorice root, and parsley tea are great tisanes for helping relieve symptoms of constipation. Senna is already well-known for having laxative properties. Meanwhile, peppermint may help soothe upset stomachs by helping to move stool through the intestines.
Ginger root can calm irritated digestive systems, while dandelion can boost the gut to make bile that helps relieve constipation. Licorice root has an anti-inflammatory property that may also help with digestive issues. And lastly, both anectodal and scientific evidence shows that parsley herb can help relieve mild cases of constipation.
Herbal Tea For Cough
Those who have coughs can have some honey, marshmallow root, and thyme tea to help soothe their irritated throats. Honey tea can not only soothe throats sore from coughing, they could also help alleviate cold symptoms.
For centuries, people have used marshmallow root tea to ease coughs. It can help loosen mucus and stop any bacteria from developing! Lastly, the herb thyme has antimicrobial activities that can be useful in treating coughs.
Word of Caution
While herbal teas can help relieve mild symptoms and illnesses, remember that they are not proper cures or treatments for said health problems. Drinking tisanes should never replace seeing a doctor for any health issues you’re experiencing.
Also, don’t forget to take extra care when drinking herbal teas! Some herbal tea are not safe to consume during pregnancy. Other tisane are also not safe for the elderly and for children.
Herbal teas are wonderful beverages for their natural taste and promised health benefits. Tisanes can help make you calm and relaxed, and can lessen certain illnesses’ symptoms. However, do be careful when taking these herbal teas as they are by no means a replacement for proper medical care. Tisanes are simply healthy drinks that you can enjoy with food or as is, hot or cold.