A cup of tea is one of life’s great comforts. The humble brew has plenty of health benefits as well, but what if caffeine consumption is a lurking concern for you? There’s no need to fret. Herbal tea is a simple, refreshing caffeine-free alternative to your favorite black or green tea.
What’s more, herbal teas provide you with an excellent means to stay hydrated (we all get bored with water sometimes) while getting a boost of vitamins, antioxidants, and helping take the edge off the day.
Here’s your breakdown of everything you need to know about herbal teas, plus some delicious blends to try at home.
How Does Herbal Tea Differ from Tea?
True teas come from Camellia sinensis, commonly known as the tea plant. The leaves are harvested then cured. Depending on whether or not the leaves are allowed to wilt or oxidize and to what degree, you will get several types of true tea: white, yellow, green, black, and oolong. Tea leaves contain caffeine. Once brewed, an 8 oz cup of tea will contain significantly less than the same size cup of coffee. And while some studies indicate that a bit of caffeine might be a good thing, there’s no denying that too much of the stuff can make us jittery, anxious, cause a rapid heartbeat, and disrupt our sleep.
So what do we do when we’re craving a hot beverage throughout the day? Drink herbal tea!
Herbal teas can be made from fruits, herbs, leaves, and flowers and come in an incredible number of combinations to suit almost anyone’s tastes. Most are caffeine-free but note that there are a few exceptions like the popular yerba mate, which do contain some caffeine.
The Benefits of Drinking Herbal Tea
If you’re sensitive to caffeine but don’t want to miss out on a hot beverage, herbal tea is a revelation. There’s plenty of varieties to choose from, which means you can switch things up to suit your mood throughout the day. And of course, on those sweltering hot days you can batch your herbal tea ahead of time, let it cool, and enjoy it over ice.
The exact benefits you’ll reap will depend on your preferred herbal blend.
- Stay hydrated: If you’re one of the many who struggles to meet your daily water drinking goals, adding a cup or two of herbal tea can help you get there. Keep it light with fresh herbs like basil, lemon balm, or rose.
- Aid digestion: Eat too much at dinner? Feel a bit queasy or bloated? Several herb-based teas have properties to see you through an upset stomach. Try ginger, peppermint, or chamomile tea.
- Get forty winks: While a cup of tea is in itself exceptionally relaxing, certain herbs improve your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Look for chamomile, passionflower, or valerian tea.
- Manage your stress levels: We all know how taking a timeout for a warm, calming cup of tea instantly seems to soothe nerves and ease stress. Lavender is perfect for the job.
- Help controls blood sugar: Anyone who is pre-diabetic or suffers from Type 2 diabetes should note that there are several herbal teas which can help lower blood sugar levels. Check out blueberry or bilberry tea. Just be sure to skip any sweeteners.
- Anti-inflammatory: When consumed as part of an anti-inflammatory diet, herbal teas like ginger and turmeric, can help reduce inflammation and potentially decrease flare-ups from conditions like arthritis and celiac.
- Lower blood pressure: Anyone who suffers from hypertension or high blood pressure knows that managing it requires a variety of lifestyle changes. Exercising more and improving the quality of your diet can go a long way to getting your blood pressure under control, but did you know that certain herbal teas can help as well? Hibiscus tea has been shown to lower blood pressure.
Make Your Own Herbal Tea At Home
Brewing your own herbal teas at home is as easy as the tea is delicious. Hit your local market and pick up a selection of organic (fresh or dried) herbs, flowers, and dried fruits. If you’re growing your own herb garden all the better. Fresh herbal tea whenever you fancy it? Yes, please!
To make a pot, spoon two to three teaspoons of your herbal tea mixture into a tea steeper. Bring your kettle to a boil then pour in your teapot. Depending on the specific blend you’re using, allow your tea to steep for about 5 minutes.
Pro tip: If you’re using fresh herbs, be sure to let them steep a little bit longer.
The best part is you can create your own unique blends to suit your tastes. Need some inspiration? Here are a few of our favorite blends:
- Chamomile & Lavender tea – for maximum relaxation at the end of the day or to get you ready for a good night’s sleep.
- Ginger, Lemon & Cinnamon tea – to cure a queasy stomach.
- Lemon Balm & Mint tea – keep yourself refreshed and hydrated.
- Hibiscus & Orange tea – hibiscus is full of antioxidants and can reduce high blood pressure.
- Rosehip, Apple, & Licorice tea – beautifully perfumed, with just a hint of sweetness.
- Echinacea & Lemongrass tea – a common cold and flu remedy, echinacea is also fantastic for reducing anxiety, and has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Golden Turmeric, Orange Peel & Giner tea – fragrant citrus peels balance the pungency of turmeric root.
Are There Side Effects to Drinking Herbal Tea?
By and large, herbal tea is safe for you to enjoy as you please. However, certain teas can have side effects, especially if you consume them in large volume. Some may even interact with specific medications and those with food allergies will want to carefully inspect labels to make sure to avoid any potential allergens. As always, you should direct any questions and concerns to your doctor if you have any concerns, especially if you’re pregnant or nursing.
According to a recent study, there is some indication that high acid drinks like fruit teas can strip away tooth enamel, so practice moderation where they’re concerned.
Whatever the reason, whether you sip on an invigorating peppermint tea for a caffeine-free perk up in the morning or an echinacea tea to help fight off a seasonal cold, herbal teas are a terrific way to drink healthy without skimping on flavor.