Your Definitive Guide to Herbal Tea
What are Herbal Teas?
Herbal teas have been consumed by people around the world for centuries, for enjoyment as well as for their health benefits. Evidence of the use of herbal infusions for medicinal purposes shows that herbal tea remedies were being used as long ago as Ancient Egyptian times. And in Europe, before teas made from the Camellia sinensis plant were ever heard of, types of herbal infusions made with flowers and plants were the only kind of ‘teas’ used for refreshment, being then more likely referred to as ‘cordials’ or ‘waters’. These days, people are enjoying a vast range of herbal teas, and wherever they go, are likely to find an array of herbal tea choices as well as coffee or regular tea. Also known as herb teas or tisanes, herbal teas are made with herbs, flowers, fruits, leaves, stalks, roots and seeds of plants, and are generally, caffeine-free, so are good alternatives for those wishing to avoid caffeinated beverages.
So which is the best herbal tea for you? Below are some of the most popular herbal teas people buy, and also a selection of some of the more unusual varieties.
- Mint Tea - There are many varieties of mint, but they all come from the same plant family - Lamiaceae; peppermint and spearmint are the most well-known types. As well as containing vitamins and essential minerals, mint has antiseptic, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It contains the organic compound menthol, that can help alleviate congestion of the airways, and drinking peppermint tea and honey may help to soothe a sore throat. The calming properties of mint make it a suitable beverage for digestive problems like indigestion, nausea or IBS, and some people find a cool peppermint herbal infusion good for headaches. Spearmint tea leaves tend to have a more delicate flavour with a natural sweetness.
- Chamomile Tea - Chamomile (also known as camomile) is one of the most ancient herbs known, and was revered by the Ancient Romans, Greeks and Egyptians for its healing effects. A member of the daisy family Asteraceae, chamomile contains an aromatic chemical compound called chamazulene, that has anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties. Its soothing nature can help settle a nervous stomach and it’s a great tea to wind down with at the end of the day. An iced chamomile tea is also a pleasant beverage to enjoy when the weather is warm. The unique aroma of chamomile can be likened to a sweet apple blossom scent, which may be the reason why its name is derived from the Greek words ‘chamos’, meaning ‘ground’ and ‘melos’, meaning ‘apple’.
- Lemon Balm Tea - Lemon balm is another member of the mint family, and is a perennial herb that bears small white flowers that are a great attraction for bees. It is believed to have been used medicinally by the Ancient Greeks and Romans, and is still used today in traditional and alternative medicine and herbal remedies. The calming effects of lemon balm are useful to relieve stress and anxiety, and it is thought to be good for digestive problems such as stomach cramps and colic. Lemon Balm Tea is made from sun dried lemon balm leaf pieces, and when infused, yields wonderful aromas of citrus fruits and herbaceous lemon notes. It’s a good tea to drink at the end of the day if you have trouble getting to sleep.
- Rooibos Tea - Rooibos tea is grown in South Africa’s Cederberg Mountains, and is also known as ‘bush tea’ or ‘redbush tea’. It is made from the soft needle-like leaves that grow on broom-like bushes bearing tiny yellow flowers, each one producing a legume containing a single seed. Rooibos tea is a soothing drink to calm body and mind, and offers a multitude of health benefits, having anti-allergenic, antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties. It is rich in vitamins and minerals, and is caffeine-free and low in tannins. Rooibos has a pleasant earthy, slightly nutty flavour that is versatile enough to be blended with fruits, flowers, herbs and spices. It’s a refreshing drink served on its own, or with lemon, honey, milk or sugar to taste, and also makes a great iced tea.
Herbal teas may be created from different parts of plants, for example: Linden Flower Tea, Chrysanthemum Flowers Herbal Tea, Calendula Petals Herbal Tea and Butterfly Pea Flower Herbal Tea are made with flower blossoms and petals; Bamboo Tea, Organic Moringa Herbal Tea and Raspberry Leaf Tea are made with leaves; Orange Peel Tea and Pomegranate Peel Tea are made from fruit peelings; Organic Turmeric Root Herbal Tea, Dried Ginger Root Tea and Liquorice Root Herbal Tea are made from plant roots; Rose Hips Herbal Tea is made from the fruit of the rose plant; and Lemongrass Herbal Tea from a type of grass.
As well as pure herbal teas, some wonderful blends can be created by mixing two or more varieties together, such as in Harmony Herbal Tea - a blend of rose hip, anise, raspberry, nettle, liquorice, cardamom, rooibos, clove, calendula and safflower petals.
Herbal Tea Health Benefits
The health benefits herbal teas offer have been recognised and appreciated for thousands of years. Most herbal teas and tisanes contain antioxidants to strengthen immunity as well as vitamins and minerals, and some have particular properties that may be beneficial for a range of common health conditions:
|Possible health benefits
|Chamomile Herbal Tea
|Aid to relaxation and sleep, digestive problems relief, anti-inflammatory properties, stress relief
|Peppermint Herbal Tea
|Dried peppermint leaves
|Headache relief, digestive problems relief, aid to congestion of airways, stress relief
|Nettle Herbal Tea
|Hungarian and Polish nettles
|Hay fever relief, diuretic properties, anti-inflammatory properties, aid to congestion of airways
|Diuretic properties, detoxification properties
|Rooibos tea leaves
|Headache relief, anti-inflammatory properties, digestive problems relief
|Lemon Balm Tea
|Dried lemon balm leaves
|Aid to relaxation and sleep, digestive problems relief
|Hibiscus Herbal Tea
|Dried hibiscus petals
|Aid to hypertension
|Rose Hips Herbal Tea
|Dried rose hips
|Anti-inflammatory properties, rich in vitamin C
|Liquorice Root Herbal Tea
|Dried liquorice root pieces
|Anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties, digestive problems relief, antispasmodic properties
|Dried Ginger Root Tea
|Ginger root pieces
|Anti-inflammatory properties, digestive problems relief, aid to congestion of airways
|Organic Turmeric Chai Herbal Tea
|Organic turmeric root pieces
|Honeybush tea leaves
|Expectorant properties for coughs and congestion
|Lavender de Provence Herbal Tea
|Dried lavender blossom
|Helps to lift mood, aid to relaxation and sleep
How to Infuse Loose Herbal Tea
How long you steep a herbal infusion depends on the nature of the herbal tea itself, and also on personal choice. There are various devices you can use to infuse loose leaf herbal tea. A teapot is the most obvious choice, but if a single cup is required, a tea infuser is a good option, or you could make your own herbal bags by using Tea-Direct’s Fill Your Own Tea Bags. Infusing herbal tea in a glass teapot can be particularly satisfying, as you watch the delicate leaves, petals and buds gently unfurl in the water. Your herbal tea experience will start as soon as you spoon the herbal tea into the pot; some herbal teas have wonderful rich aromas that may have uplifting and invigorating effects as soon as you open the pack.
Freshly drawn water should be used, preferably filtered, especially if you live in a hard water area. Once boiled, the water should be left to cool for a couple of minutes to prevent delicate leaves or petals from being scalded. Water used should be no hotter than 96ºC-100ºC (205ºF-212ºF).
Generally, herbal infusions may be steeped between 2-10 minutes, but it’s best to experiment to see what kind of flavour and strength you desire. Herbal teas made from roots, or fibrous stalks or stems, may need to be infused longer than leaves and blossoms. Rooibos teas can be steeped for quite a few minutes without becoming bitter. Some herbal teas just require a minimal infusion to impart their flavours and fragrance and still be of nutritional benefit.
Some herbal teas have a natural sweetness, but they can be sweetened with a little honey if desired. Many varieties work well as iced teas, especially those that produce an attractive colour when infused. On a hot summer’s day, what could be better to serve than a pitcher of thirst-quenching, iced herbal tea, garnished with sprigs of fresh mint or slices of lemon?
Buying Herbal Tea Online
Buying herbal tea online means you have a wider choice of herbal tea products than you’re likely to find on any high street. If you’re interested in herbal tea remedies, whether you’re looking for a herbal tea to help boost immunity, a herb tea for skin problems, a herbal detox tea or a natural tea to help you sleep or be part of a diet regime, there may well be a herbal tea good for you. And if you just like to drink herbal tea for refreshment, and enjoyment of the diversity of flavours you can try, then Tea-Direct has some of best herbal tea varieties available.
If you’re struggling to decide which one to buy, why not treat yourself to a herbal tea gift set? Our Ultimate Herbal Tea Gift Pack contains a carefully chosen selection of the finest teas from the herbal range, beautifully presented in a black presentation box, and includes: Hibiscus Herbal Tea, Lemongrass and Mint Herbal Tea, Chrysanthemum Flowers Herbal Tea, Nettle Leaf Herbal Tea, Egyptian Chamomile Herbal Tea, Raspberry Leaf Tea, Bamboo Tea and Jasmine Flower Tea. It would also be a fabulous gift for the herbal tea lover in your life.
Our entire range of delicious herbal teas can be viewed here.
A Selection of Our Most Popular Herbal Teas
Chamomile is of the most ancient herbs known, and is an excellent ingredient for a calming herbal tea. A chamomile infusion reveals notes of apple and honey, and its soothing properties promote relaxation.
“Fresh chamomile flowers make the very best tea.”
Carole T. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Dandelions have been used for their health and nutritional benefits for centuries in many cultures. They have cleansing and detoxifying properties and are natural diuretics. Dandelion herbal tea has a subtle sweet and grassy flavour with a slight astringency.
“Absolutely beautiful, lovely taste.”
Caroline L. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
A sharp and zesty herbal tea, bursting with slightly sweet, cranberry-like flavours. A hibiscus herbal infusion reveals an attractive deep red colour, that is perfect for a delicious iced tea to sip on a sunny afternoon, as well as a warming drink to relax with in the evenings.
“Delicious - will continue to order more.”
Val M. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Ginger root has long been known to be beneficial for a number of health conditions, having anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative and antimicrobial properties. It makes a warm and comforting brew, and is often used for its positive effects on the digestive system.
“Beautiful soothing and healing tea. Many thanks.”
Gerard M. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
One of the best herbal teas for a detox, Nettle Herbal Tea is believed to have cleansing and purifying properties, and is deemed to be beneficial for coughs and respiratory complaints. The light grassy flavour of nettle tea works well when blended with other teas, such as rooibos or fruit tisanes.
“Nettle tea is always very refreshing and this variety is very good, it also has the added advantage of slightly larger leaves so I get virtually no bits through the strainer.”
Susan C. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Made from beautiful and aromatic jasmine flowers and petals sourced from the Fujian Province of China, this jasmine herbal tea is mild and delicately flavoured, and can be enjoyed at any time of day.
“I’ve been searching for original jasmine flower tea for a few years ever since one of my Chinese students gave me some and this is certainly the real thing.”
Clare B. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
What’s the best herbal tea to help me sleep?
As well as being caffeine-free, many herbal teas have relaxing and soothing properties conducive to a good night’s sleep. One of the best bedtime drinks is chamomile tea, as a soothing chamomile herbal infusion can relax the mind and help with insomnia. Chamomile is also good for digestive problems, such as indigestion and acid reflux, conditions that may also affect sleep. Some people drink lavender tea to help them sleep. Loose lavender tea is also good to make your own herbal bath tea, by filling a muslin bag or piece of cheesecloth with dried lavender tea blossoms to hang from the hot tap as you run your bath, or let it steep in the water. Lemon balm is a wonderfully aromatic herbal tea thought to offer calming and sedative effects to aid sleep.
Will herbal tea help me lose weight?
The nature of most herbal teas, being virtually calorie-free with no added sugar, make them good alternatives to sweetened drinks or those with added milk when trying to lose weight. Rooibos tea is thought to be a good herbal tea for weight loss, as studies have suggested it may increase levels of the hormone leptin, that helps to reduce appetite.
Is it safe to drink herbal tea during pregnancy?
It’s important for pregnant women to stay hydrated, and also to limit their caffeine intake or cut it out completely during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Therefore, beverages other than tea, coffee and carbonated drinks should be consumed. Herbal teas and herbal tisanes are generally, naturally caffeine-free, and contain vitamins and minerals, so would seem to be good alternatives. However, there are differences of opinion about certain herbal teas being consumed in pregnancy, and cautions that some should be avoided completely, or at least during the first trimester.
Raspberry leaf tea, for instance, has for years been recommended for women to drink in late pregnancy (no earlier than 32 weeks) as it’s thought to help prepare the uterus for labour by making the muscles contract, but such effects would obviously be unwelcome at the beginning of a pregnancy. Nettle Tea has for many years been a suggested drink during pregnancy, but it sometimes comes with a caution not to drink it during the first trimester.
Herbal teas considered safe to drink in pregnancy include:
- Rooibos Tea - a soothing drink which is antioxidant-rich, caffeine-free and low in tannins
- Peppermint Tea - useful for indigestion and nausea
- Ginger Tea - helpful in alleviating morning sickness
- Honeybush Tea - similar to rooibos, but with a natural sweetness
- Lemon Balm Tea - helps with relaxation and sleep
According to NHS guidelines, pregnant women should drink no more than 4 cups of herbal tea a day. If you’re unsure, it’s probably best to ask your midwife or GP for advice. It may also be a good idea to vary the type of herbal tea you drink in the day, so you’re not having too much of any one kind.