In this section:
Welcome to the vast world of herbal teas! Whether you are just starting out, or have been a fan of herbal tea for decades, there's always more to learn and explore in this fascinating subject.
Let's start at the beginning: exactly what is herbal tea? Well we are all familiar with a regular cup of black tea. Technically "tea" refers to a drink made with boiling water and the specific "tea plant": Camellia Sinensis. Herbal tea on the other hand, is a "tea" made from countless other plants/herbs, other than Camellia Sinensis. So in reality, herbal tea is not tea at all! The more accurate term for this hot drink is a tisane. However, we'll stick with the more common term herbal tea.
The history of herbal tea is very much tied to the history of herbalism. The use of plants as medicines started long before written human history. Archaeological evidence proved that humans were using medicinal plants 60,000 years ago! The earliest written records about herbalism dates back to Mesopotamia, ancient Egypt, China, and India some 4-5 thousand years ago. The Greeks and Romans also documented the health benefits of herbal tea. In Europe, herbalism is well documented in the middle ages. In the Americas, native Americans relied on herbal medicine long before the Europeans arrived.
In the 1800s and early 1900s there were two main medical systems: one that relied on herbalism, and one that was more drug oriented. Clearly as can be seen by our current medical system, herbalists did not win that battle! Herbalism faded from the public eye until a revival started in the 1960s.
Evidenced-based research into the health benefits of herbal tea and herbal extracts has increased dramatically in the last two decades. Today there are countless scientific papers on herbal studies, and even goverment health departments actively recomment herbal remedies. The World Health Organization estimated that 80% of people worldwide incorporate herbal medicines as part of their primary health care. It seems we are finally approaching a state where powerful synthetic drugs and holistic herbal remedies not only co-exist but can complement each other - the best of both worlds!
On this website, we discuss several Herbal Tea Recipes, as well as information on all of the herbs that are mentioned in the recipes. These recipes are based on research and recommendations made by reknown herbal practitioners. The information presented about each herb is again from published research, and we endeavor to provide references to the research as much as possible.
Even if you are not after a particular remedy, herbal tea in general is simply good for you. Many herbs are chock full of vitamins and minerals, which you ingest when drinking the tea.
Much like regular tea, herbal tea is made by pouring hot water over your dried herbs/leaves. Typically anywhere from 1 to 6 teaspoons of herbs can be used per cup of tea. The amount depends greatly on the type of herbs used and the reason for having the tea. For example if you just want to relax with a cup of chamomile tea in the evening, a teaspoon of dried chamomile flowers would be perfect. If, on the other hand, you are wanting an herbal tea remedy, then first, consult your physician!! Second, do some research on recommended dosage of the herbs in question, dont just put the same amount as some other tea you've made in the past.
Once you've chosen your herbs then, unless you want to end up with a mouth full of soggy herbs, you need some sort of strainer/infuser. The cheapest and easiest to use are tea balls. Just put your herbs in the ball, close it, put it in your cup, and pour boiling water over it. Don't overstuff the ball, maybe 1/2 to 3/4 full is plenty. The herbs will expand when wet, and if it's too tightly packed the water won't be able to extract the nutrients from the herbs stuck in the center.There are a variety of other tea infusers available, and even empty tea bags that you can fill yourself. Experiment with a few until you find one that works well for you.
Let your tea sit (steep) for 10 minutes before drinking it. This gives the hot water time to extract the nutrients from the herb.
The best way to buy herbal tea is to buy loose leaf dried herbs. You can buy some herbal teas that are already in tea bags. But these are so processed and dried out - they've lost much of their flavor and nutrients. With loose leaf herbs, you can choose exactly which herbs you want, and mix them in the exact quantities that you want. You have complete control over the tea that you make!
Many health food stores carry a good assortment of dried herbs. There are also several online herbal stores from which you can order an even greater variety of herbs.
A note on organic vs regular herbs: recall that pouring boiling water over your herbs and letting your tea steep allows the water to extract the nutrients from the herbs. You can imagine that this might also extract any residual pesticides/herbicides from the herbs! So when you can, you should really try to buy organic herbs. The price difference is usually not dramatically higher, especially when you consider the relatively small quantity that you use. Now if you can't find an organic variety of the herb that you are looking for, or choose not to pay the extra cost, that doesn't mean that you should forego buying the herbs! The benefits still far outweigh possible trace contaminants in the non-organic herb.
When discussing herbs and recipes, where possible we have included links to a reputable supplier of the organic herb.
There are literally countless hebal tea recipes using hundreds of possible herbs! To get you started, we have put together a sample
set of herbal tea recipes. We are continuously adding to our list of recipes. If you have any suggestions for
a recipe that you would like to see, or that you know and love, please do drop us an email!
Important notice: information on this website should not be interpreted as medical advice. Do not take any herbal supplements without consulting your physician,
especially if you are taking medication or have an illness. Never take herbal supplements unless advised by a physician if you are, or might be, pregnant, or breastfeeding.
Do not give herbal supplements to children under the age of 18.