The Basics of Herbals

Posted in Fava Tea

From chamomile and lavender to ginger and turmeric, there’s a wealth of herbal concoctions that remain popular in the world of tea, but did you know that these brews aren’t really tea at all? That’s right, there’s more to herbals than meets the eye!

What is herbal tea?

The term “tea” is actually used to describe any brew made with the tea plant, known as Camellia sinensis, and since herbals refer to the infusion of any edible plant other than Camellia sinensis, the better term for this popular category is “tisane.” These blends can include any variation of leaves, fruits, bark, roots, flowers, or spices, and the flavors and potential health benefits can vary widely based on what’s included. Even rooibos blends are technically considered herbals!

A Quick History Lesson

The history of tisanes is perhaps one of the most diverse in the tea world. From Ancient China to Ancient Egypt, to Sri Lanka and Greece, herbal infusions have been used for hundreds of years. Commonly used for their health benefits and great taste, the earliest record of the use of brewed herbs dates back to 2737 BC in China. Traditional Chinese medicine is famous for using herbal blends to heal countless ailments and afflictions, but many cultures also brewed similar cups for spiritual benefit, believing it to open the heart to a spiritual connection. Legendary Greek physician Dioscorides described more than 600 medicinal plants, many of which could be used to create herbal infusions, and in recent years, dried peppermint leaves have been found in several Egyptian pyramids. Since they date back to 1000 BC, some experts believe that they too used this herbal remedy to aid in digestion.

Are all herbals caffeine-free?

No! Much to the surprise of many, there are some varieties that contain caffeine, primarily guayusa, mate, and yaupon! These three cousins are all forms of the holly plant, and they’re all naturally caffeinated even though they don’t contain Camellia sinensis. Grown primarily in South American and, in the case of Yaupon, the Southeastern part of North America, these blends have long been used by indigenous people for medicinal and spiritual purposes. Additionally, these blends actually can contain higher percentages of caffeine than even black tea, but they are known for a gentler energizing effect than their “true tea” counterparts.

Herbal Tisanes and Wellness

Another popular tradition of utilizing herbal blends for medicinal purposes comes in the form of Indian Ayurvedic medicine. Commonly using various ingredients to create infusions that promote relaxation, enhanced immunity, detoxification, and relieve a wealth of other ailments, this style is also unique in the sense that it does not promote one herb as a catch-all for a specific problem. Instead, Ayurvedic medicine uses a more personalized approach to determine which herb will have the greatest benefit for each individual. While many tisanes are known for their potential health benefits, we always recommend consulting a physician before adding an herbal tisane regimen to your diet. That being said, our wellness collection is packed full of tisanes and teas alike that are generally recommended for pursuing a healthy lifestyle, and you can shop the entire collection here.

What are the most popular herbals?

Many of our herbal blends feature fruity flavors, and some of our most popular options include Raspberry Patch, Two to Mango, and Lemon Meringue. It should be no surprise then that herbal infusions are a favorite for iced teas during the warmer months (or all year round if you’re anything like us). However, you’ll also be thrilled to know that non-fruity flavors thrive here too, like Peppermint Rooibos, Mocha Yaupon, Chocolate Mint, and Roasted Almond! Single ingredient options like Chamomile Blossoms, Ginger, and Hibiscus are also incredibly popular, and make for delicious brews all on their own. No matter how you’re drinking an herbal tisane, its certain that these potent and flavorful alternatives to the Camellia sinensis plant remain popular all over the world!

Do you have a favorite herbal tisane? Share in the comments below!

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