About Herbal Tea. Unveiling Nature’s Secrets
Herbal tea is aromatic, tasteful and a well established social leant. Discover more about herbal tea’s origin, popularity and what really makes it different from other tea varieties.
Herbal tea is an aromatic beverage made from different plants, which can be served hot or cold, depending on the consumer’s taste. Most of the times, herbal tea is sought and appreciated for its medicinal benefits which differ from an herbal tea variety to another.
Discovering the World of Tisanes
Herbal tea is also known under the name of tisane. The word has its origins in Greek from “ptisanē” which literally would translate as “crushed barley”. The Chinese call it “liang cha”, which would translate as “cooling tea” because they use herbal tea to cool down the body’s temperature when someone is feeling ill.
Herbal tea or tisane is in fact a catch-all term used for any non-caffeinated beverages made from the infusion or decoction of herbs, spices, or other plant material. That is why in some countries, mostly in Europe, tisanes or herbal teas are also known as infusions.
Herbal’s Tea History and Popularity
Tisanes have been used for nearly as long as written history extends. There are documents which are dated back as early as Ancient Egypt or Ancient China. Those documents talk about the actual enjoyment in drinking tisanes which were and still are regarded as social leant. The documents also show the practical, medicinal use of these beverages.
The Ancient Egypt left as inheritance not only the great Sphinx and the amazing pyramids, but also the popular custom to consume tisanes. Tisane consumption represents truly a national habit. One of the most popular tisane in Egypt is the hibiscus tea, also known as “karkade”.
In China tisanes are also extremely popular. The traditional medicine uses the tisanes as natural cure for many diseases. The beverage is also used for enhancing health. The Chinese term “liang cha” means actually “cooling tea”, a very inspired term because it is believed this beverage cools down the body when it is overheated by sickness or weather change.
Medicinal Benefits of Herbal Tea
Tisanes are most of the time consumed for their physical or medicinal effects, especially for their stimulant, relaxant or sedative properties. The medicinal effects of certain herbs are discussed under herbalism, the study of medicinal properties of plants. The medicinal benefits of tisanes are the central theme for many discussions and debating in the medical world. Some of their effects are controversial and many tisanes aren’t recommended in case of pregnancy, for instance.
Tisanes are available pure or blended featuring thus different antioxidant properties and therapeutic applications depending on the variety. The antioxidant properties of tisanes from temperate regions have been well-studied while those originating in tropical regions are still an unknown territory, yet to be uncovered. That is a reason for which claiming that tisanes have miraculous effects on health isn’t recommendable There are countries as Unites States for example, where marketers of tisanes aren’t allowed to state unsubstantiated claims on the beverage’s wonder effects when health is concerned.
Herbal Tea Preparation. Simple and Effective.
Tisanes can be made with fresh or dried flowers, leaves, seeds or roots. The most known and applied preparation procedure used is that of pouring boiled water over the plant parts and letting the mix steep for a few minutes.
The tisane is then strained, sweetened if desired, and served. There are many companies which produce herbal tea bags for such infusions, but it is always preferable to use the plant itself, its flowers or its leaves than the tea bags. The quality of tisane made from material plant is superior to the quality of tisane made from tea bags.
Tisanes Versus Teas
Tisanes are not the same with the varieties of tea, green, black, white, oolong or pu’erh. All the tea varieties come from one plant known popularly as the tea plant and for the botanists as Camellia Sinensis. Tisanes are made of dried flowers, leaves, seeds and any other plant material different from the classic tea plant. This is the main distinction between teas and tisanes, teas come from one plant only, while tisanes can be made from many varieties of plants.
“Great love affairs start with Champagne and end with tisane.” (Honoré de Balzac)
Another important difference is the caffeine composition part. Tisanes don’t contain at all caffeine, while any variety of tea does because the tea plant itself has caffeine in its composition. The caffeine component distinguishes tisanes from mate which is also a caffeinated beverage.
Another difference between teas and tisanes appears when it comes to preparation. Teas are steeped with hot not boiled water because otherwise they would lose their natural properties and aroma, while for tisanes, boiled water is generally used.
Herbal Tea Varieties
Depending on the plant used and on the way of preparing the beverage, there are many varieties of herbal tea out there. We can find many more herbal tea varieties than tea varieties for one simple reason: tea is extracted from one plant, tisane is made from many. Let’s discover together some of the most popular herbal tea varieties.
Anise tea is popular in the Mediterranean region and in the Southwest Asia where the anise plant is native. It is sweet and highly aromatic, distinguished by its characteristic flavor.
Artichoke tea made from the artichoke plant native to the Mediterranean region in Europe. It has a slightly bitter and woody taste.
Burdock tea made from the plant with the same name, also known as arctium, a plant native to Europe. It features a pungent flavor with a little muddy harshness. It isn’t recommended to pregnant women because it is known to stimulate the uterus.
Chamomile tea is most often used as a sedative. Chamomile flower can be found mostly in temperate areas throughout Europe and Asia.
Cinnamon tea prepared from cinnamon, a spice obtained from the inner bark of several trees. It features a very aromatic and pungent taste and scent.
Ginseng tea is highly popular in China and Korea. Ginseng plant can be found only in North America and Eastern Asia. It is used as a calming beverage, mostly for relaxation.
Hibiscus tea often found in a blended form with rose hip, is a popular tea alternative in the Middle East which is drunk hot or cold. Hibiscus tea is also consumed in Okinawa, Japan, where the natives associate it with longevity.
Mate de coca also known as “coca tea” is actually made from coca leaves. Authentic mate de coca contains very small amounts of cocaine. In most of the countries where coca is illegal, products marketed as “coca tea” are supposed to be decocainized.
Pine tea, also known as “tallstrunt”, is made from needles of pine trees, being high in vitamins A and C.
Rosemary tea is made from the plant bearing the same name. The rosemary plant is native to Mediterranean regions and it is basically a decorative plant. The rosemary tea features a bitter, astringent taste and is highly aromatic.
There are many more herbal tea varieties each with its special taste, aroma and health benefits. Stay tuned to find out more on herbal teas, their health benefits and restrictions as well. Follow our newsletter and share with us your preferences when it comes to herbal teas.
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