The Habit of Herbal Tea
The term “herbal tea” is a tricky one – many times, herbal teas are composed of ingredients other than pure herbs. The term “tisane” is usually applied to these brews, which can contain things such as rosehips, flowers, roots, grasses, and even seeds. The only element they share in common is that they don’t actually contain any leaves from the tea plant. Read on for a quick overview of the most popular herbal teas and their ingredients!
My good friend Herb
There are many teas or tisanes that can correctly be named “herbal” teas as they are derived strictly from the leaves, stems, or flowers of a herb (that is, a plant that does not sport a woody stem.) Mint, chamomile, dill, fennel, rosemary, sage, thyme fall into this category; gardeners have been preparing herbal teas for centuries due to the restorative and beneficial effects that herbal teas have on stimulating the digestive system, calming frazzled nerves, and promoting general good health.
But there’s no reason to stop at herbs – not when there’s a whole world full of ingredients just waiting to be dried and turned into tisanes! Lemongrass is a popular and strong-flavoured ingredient, as are rosehips, hibiscus and cinnamon, to name a very few. Root ingredients are an ancient and favorite tea ingredient as well; ginseng, ginger, dandelion, and licorice all are harvested to use their dried roots as components in popular infusions. Seeds are used as well; ainise, pomegranate, caraway, and even mustard seeds have found their way into many a teacup around the world.
The healing wisdom of centuries
Herbal teas are not only extremely tasty, but their long history is rooted in medicinal culture. Without the benefit of modern conveniences such as alcohols or centrifuges to extract the essential oils and other compounds in the herbal ingredients, infusing them in hot water was an easy way to extract the goodness of the plant and make it available to humans. Our digestive systems are not terribly efficient at processing seeds, roots, or the bark of plants, so historically we’ve gone the route of letting the hot water infusion do the hard work for us.
But even with modern medicine, herbal teas are still known around the world for their healing properties and their relative gentleness on the human body. Unlike modern drugs with their side effects, most herbal teas offer a host of benefits without the unfortunate side effects of drugs.