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Herbal tea

Herbal tea is hot or sometimes cold infusion of leaves, tender shoots and flowerings of herbal plants. The seeds, stem, fruit peels, and roots of certain plants or aromatic herbs can also be infused into healthy teas. The infusion obtained from herbal parts other than traditional tea leaves (Camellina sinensis) oftentimes called as tisanes.

basil-herb tea
Enchanting basil herb tea.

In the past couple of decades, there has been renewed attention and interest in the use of herbal teas globally. Their usage is growing exponentially in non-traditional regions, thanks to the new researches in the field of herbal teas in regard to their medicinal values and health benefits.

Herbal tea types:

Different types of teas can be steeped from plant parts for consumption as healthy drink. However, make sure your herbal tea mixtures only contain non-toxic plants.

  • Flowers: Full blooms, flower buds, petals, fresh or dried, can be used in the preparation of flowering or blooming herbal teas. Common floral based tisanes include chamomile, chrysanthemum, hibiscus, jasmine, roselle, etc. They impart decorative color and aroma to the infusion.

  • Leaves and shoots: Fresh and dried leaves of many edible herbal plants commonly used to prepare tisanes. Peppermint, spearmint, basil, lemon balm, honeybush, rooibos, nettle, etc., are some herbal plants often used in herbal teas.

  • Fruit peels: Infusion can be obtained from the fresh or dried fruit peels of certain citrus fruits like lemon, bergamot, orange, etc. The fruit peel infusions often blend with flowers and leaves to give distinct aroma and appearance to the teas.

  • Roots: Underground tubers and roots of some plants can be used to extract pleasant infusions. The roots dried, gently roasted before brewing. Burdock root, chicory root, dandelion root etc.

  • Seeds: Fruit pods and seeds of some herbal plants can become an effective alternative answer to the infusions of leaves and flowers. Basil seeds, ginkgo nut, fennel seeds, anise, dill seeds, etc.


Here is an impressive list of herb teas with detailed illustrations of their health benefits and nutrition facts:
Chamomile tea Chicory Ginseng tea
Lemon balm tea Rooibos tea

Health benefits of herbal tea

  1. Herbal tea and infusions are pretty low in calories. Nonetheless, its extraction composed of antioxidants and other phytochemicals necessary for wellbeing.

  2. The dink is free from methylxanthine alkaloids such as caffeine, theobromine, theophylline, paraxanthine, etc. Unlike the brew from coffee beans, tea-leaves of C.sinensis, Kola nut, etc, which cause central nervous system stimulation, restlessness, anxiety, muscle twitching, gastric acid secretion and acidity and lack of sleep (insomnia).

  3. Herbal teas composes different antioxidant classes;

    A. polyphenols (eg. Apigenin in chamomile, tangeritinin in citrus peels, tannins in clove, tarragon, etc).

    B. non-polyphenolic flavonoids (eg. Xanthones, eugenol) in several herbs,

    C. terpenoids (eg. citral, menthol, camphor, carotenoids, curcuminoids) in mint and ginger.

  4. Herbal teas boost immunity to fight against viral-flu, in addition to having anti-inflammatory effects.

  5. Many of these antioxidants possess anticancer, anti-aging properties. All together, they help to detoxify and revitalize body and regulate smooth metabolic activities in liver, bone marrow, kidney and spleen.

  6. They help maintain moisture levels in skin, and hair cells and prevent dryness, scaling, wrinkles and pigmentation.

  7. Herbal teas contain traces of antioxidant vitamins like vitamin-C and vitamin-A. The also carry small amounts of folate, pyridoxine, and minerals like iron, potassium and manganese.

  8. In many traditional medicines, the infusions advocated as remedies for fatigue, nervousness, headache, indigestion, liver disease, etc.


See the table below for in depth analysis of nutrients:

Herb teas (tea, herb, other than chamomile, brewed), Nutritional value per 100 g.

(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)

Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA
Energy 1 Kcal 0%
Carbohydrates 0.20 g <1%
Protein 0 g 0%
Total Fat 0 g 0%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 0 g 0%
Vitamins
Folates 1 µg 0.25%
Niacin 0 mg 0%
Pyridoxine 0 mg 0%
Riboflavin 0.004 mg <1%
Thiamin 0.010 mg <1%
Vitamin A 0 IU 0%
Vitamin-C 0 mg 0%
Electrolytes
Sodium 1 mg <1%
Potassium 9 mg <1%
Minerals
Calcium 2 mg 0.2%
Iron 0.08 mg 1%
Magnesium 1 mg <1%
Zinc 0.04 mg 1<1%
Phyto-nutrients
Caffiene 0 mg --

Buying

Dried herb leaves, flowers, and roots can be available all-round the year in the specialty herbal stores. Fresh flowerings and leaves, however, can only be foraged in the nature or grown in your backyard.

In the supermarkets, make sure herbal tea mixtures only contain authentic, non-toxic plants. Read the label carefully to learn about the nature of items packed inside an airtight container for safety reasons.


Storage

Store fresh herbs for short term use in a plastic bag and keep inside the home refrigerator. Place dried flower blooms, leaves, root chunks/flakes in tight metallic containers away from moisture and light for extended usage.


Preparation of herb tea

To dry aromatic plants, tie together stems, leaves, or flowers and hang them in a well ventilated place, away from light for 2-3 weeks. When the plant is dry, strip its leaves and keep in an airtight container.

Herbal teas are mostly drunk hot, but some more fruity varieties can be delicious cold. They taken plain or slightly sweetened with sugar or honey or with added lemon. Among the most common varieties of herbals tea are hibiscus, ginger, lemon balm, verbena, mint, chamomile and sage.

To make an infusion, measure 1 teaspoon (15ml) of dried herbs or 2 tablespoons (30ml) of fresh herbs for 2 cups (300-400 ml) of just simmering water. It is best to use cold water that is brought to boil. Infuse for about 5 minutes. Cover the tea during infusion to preserve its active principles. A small amount honey or stevia may be added to improve acceptance.


Safety profile

Most of the herbs teas of common plants and flowers are safe for conumption even in pregnant women. However, some plants like yarrow (Achillea millefolium) may cause skin allergy when handled and come in contact with skin. Some herbs like yerba mate may contain caffiene. Some herbs such as root like ginseng, licorice causes incresed uterine contractions and should be avoided during pregnancy. Som herbs like ginsng and ginkgo can cause adverse drug interacations with warferin. People on these medications should consult physician before taking these herbal infusions. (Medical disclaimer).


<<-You may also like to read Classic Tea and its benefits.

<<-Back to Home page from Herbal tea.

Further Resources:

  1. USDA National Nutrient Database. (opens in new window).

  2. Stanford School of Medicine Cancer information Page-Nutrition to Reduce Cancer Risk (Link opens in new window).

  3. University of Maryland Medical center-Cancer society-Tea and cancer risk (Pdf-Link opens in new window).




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