is any drink made from an infusion of plant or herb other than Camellia sinensis (the actual tea shrub). Almost any plant or its parts that is generally safe for human consumption can be made into herbal tea; which may contain roots, leaves, seed, and flowers, or a combination of these. For most, herbal teas must not contain leaves from the actual tea plant.
Use of herbs as tea has been by humans thousands of years ago and today, each culture or region has its own herbal tea recipes or traditions.
In many cases, a bag of herbal tea contains a mixture of flowers, leaves, or other parts of the plant. Often, they are dried to prolong storage life. Each kind of herbal tea has its own flavor unique to the plant. Some brands or preparations combine several herbs as well.
Plants with medicinal and other properties are often consumed as herbal tea. Many herbs, notably Echinacea, Ginger, and Rosehips, have therapeutic benefits when taken in the body. Heat can help activate therapeutic compounds in the herb, and infusion into the water helps for better absorption in the body.
Some herbs, like chamomile, kava, and yerba mate, are drunk as herbal tea because of their various relaxing or stimulating properties.
Each region around the world has its own collection of herbal tea. Here are some herbs that are in use as a beverage
- Anise – from seeds and leaves
- Asiatic Penny-wort – found and used as a tea in Southeast Asia
- Barley – Japanese drink made from roasted barley that is boiled and drunk cold on hot days
- Bee palm
- Boldo – from South America
- Cannabis or Marijuana – leaves and flowers are in use, popular in India and Pakistan
- Chinese herb – actually a mix of several medicinal herbs in Chinese traditional medicine
- Caraway seeds
- Catnip – used for its relaxing and calming effect
- Chamomile – known for calming and sedative effect
- Chrysanthemum – made from dried flowers
- Coffee – leaves from the plant and whole fruits (comparison to coffee beans) are used
- Cerrasse – used in Jamaica
- Citrus – lemon, orange and lime peels all goes in making
- Dandelion – made by infusing roasted, pulverized roots of the plant
- Echinacea – used as a remedy for colds and flu
Some Other Types of Herbal tea using fruits, flowers
- European mistletoe – one of the few herbal teas prepared by steeping in cold water for 2 to 6 hours
- Ginger – boiled roots are popular in the Philippines
- Ginseng – use dry roots to make into tea. First used in China and Korea, now popular around the world
- Goji – fruits, leaves, and shoots go into making
- Hibiscus – often drunk as a beverage in the Middle East with Rose Hips
- Ho Yan Hor – another mix of herbs consumed as tea found in Malaysia
- Honeybush – closely related to Rooibos but slightly sweeter, found in South Africa
- Hydrangea – made from dried leaves. Prepare carefully because it’s toxic
- Jiaogulan – considered a poor man’s ‘ginseng’
- Fireweed – dry leaves go into a tea is popular as Kapor
- Kava – roots are made into a tea and very popular in Southern Pacific regions and islands. Relaxing and promotes talkativeness
- Kratom – made from dried leaves. Drunk due to medicinal and stimulating effects
- Ku Ding – herbal tea in Chinese traditional medicine
- Kuzuyu – Japanese tea made by mixing arrowroot powder in hot water
- Labrador – used as a tea in North America
- Lapacho – also known as Taheebo and drunk due to medicinal benefits
- Lemon Balm
The List also contains the following types
- Lemon grass – grassy leaves have a surprising lemon scent
- Licorice – roots only to make tea
- Mate – also known as Yerba mate, a stimulating drink popular in South America
- Mate de coca – tea made from leaves of the coca plant. It may contain small amounts of cocaine
- Mint – leaves are in use as a tea, or as flavoring to green tea
- Mountain tea – a flowering shrub found in mountains in the Balkans. Stems, leaves, and flowers are put in boiling water to make a tea
- Neem – for preparing herbal tea
- Nettle – leaves go in tea making
- Oksusu Cha – Korean tea made from boiling roasted corn kernels
- Pennyroyal – boil leaves to make as tea and main application as an abortifacient
- Pine – leaves (or needles) for making a tea
- Qishr – made from coffee husks and ginger, popular in Yemen
- Red Clover
- Red raspberry – leaves are in use
- Roasted wheat – tea taste somewhat like coffee
- Rosehip – often combined with hibiscus
Other Varieties of teas
- Sakurayu – Japanese tea made from pickled cherry blossom petals
- Sassafras – roots for making tea
- Scorched rice – made into tea in many Asian countries
- Spicebush – used as tea by Native Americans
- Spruce – needles for making a tea
- Stevia – yields a sweet variety
- St. John’s Wort – is a remedy for depression
- Thyme – known for its antiseptic effect
- Cat’s claw
- Valerian – known for its sedative effect
- Wong Lo Kat – another Chinese herbal tea mix
- Raiboos Tea- For Detox
This is not a complete list, because many herbs around the world are available as herbal tea.
Making herbal tea drink
Preparations of this differ according to the herb and accompanying traditions, but making herbal tea drink is much similar to ordinary tea. First, the herbs, which may be loose or in tea bags, require soaking in hot water for one to five minutes.
With few exceptions, herbs are not subjected to boiling temperatures because it may activate the tannins that can make the brew bitter. Again with few exceptions, many traditions also limit prolonged steeping of herbal tea because of similar reasons.
Some important reminders
Some seemingly safe herbs or plants are not safe when taken as herbal tea. Notable examples are mandrake, eggplant, potato, and tomato teas, which may be made from poisonous leaves.
When purchasing herbal tea, always check the ingredients and directions of use. Always check dried herbal tea for the presence of molds or other foreign matter.
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