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Herbal tea

Herbal tea, is a beverage made by infusing various herbs, spices, flowers, leaves, tender shoots, and other plant materials in hot water. Sometimes seeds, stems, 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 (Camellia sinensis) is oftentimes called 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 research 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 drinks. However, make sure your herbal tea mixtures only contain non-toxic plants.

  1. Flowers: Full blooms, flower buds, and 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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 a distinct aroma and appearance to the teas.

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

  5. 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 herbal 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 is composed of antioxidants and other phytochemicals necessary for well-being.

  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. Together, they help to detoxify and revitalize the body and regulate smooth metabolic activities in the 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. They also carry small amounts of folate, pyridoxine, and minerals like iron, potassium, and manganese.

  8. In many traditional medicines, the infusions are 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 Percent 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%
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%
Sodium 1 mg <1%
Potassium 9 mg <1%
Calcium 2 mg 0.2%
Iron 0.08 mg 1%
Magnesium 1 mg <1%
Zinc 0.04 mg 1<1%
Caffiene 0 mg --


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


Store fresh herbs for short-term use in a plastic bag and keep them inside the home refrigerator. Place dried flower blooms, leaves, and 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 are plain or slightly sweetened with sugar or honey or with added lemon. Among the most common varieties of herbals, tea is 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 a boil. Infuse for about 5 minutes. Cover the tea during infusion to preserve its active principles. A small amount of honey or stevia may be added to improve acceptance.

Safety profile

Most of the herbal teas of common plants and flowers are safe for consumption 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 caffeine. Some herbs such as roots ginseng, and licorice cause increased uterine contractions and should be avoided during pregnancy.

Herbs like ginseng and ginkgo can cause adverse drug interactions with warferin. People on these medications should consult a physician before taking these herbal infusions. (Medical disclaimer).

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

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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. National Cancer Institute-Tea and cancer prevention.

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