Why herbal tea isn't really a tea

 

By Emilie Forsythe (nee Holmes)

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Herbal teas have never been so popular, with tea drinkers increasingly switching to herbs when looking to reduce their caffeine intake, as well as taking advantage of their endless health benefits. Unlike all other tea types, such as black, oolong, green and white, herbal ‘teas’ do not actually come from the tea plant, Camelia Sinensis. In fact, strictly speaking, herbs shouldn’t really be called teas at all, but rather infusions or tisanes, as they all come from different plants, each one distinct in how and where they grow, as well as their flavour and properties. A herbal tea is therefore simply an infusion of a particular herb in hot water, which not only facilitates its consumption, but also helps release some of the healthful essential oils.

How is herbal tea made?

Herbal teas are each unique in how and where they grow, as well as how they are produced.

They can be made from fresh or dried flowers, leaves, seeds or even roots. For example, hibiscus tea is made from whole hibiscus flowers, which are picked and simply dried in the sun.

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What does herbal tea taste like?

Herbal teas brew a rainbow of colours and offer a variety of flavours. Expect anything from a fresh Peppermint to a zingy Lemongrass, a honey-sweet Chamomile to a sweet-sour Hibiscus.

How much caffeine is there in herbal tea?

All herbal teas are naturally caffeine-free, making them the perfect choice for the evening or post-dinner. Rooibos, in particular, is much-loved for its unusually full body, making it a great alternative to a caffeine-free breakfast tea.

What are the benefits of drinking herbal tea?

The appreciation of herbs is not new - far from it, we have been using herbs as natural remedies for centuries to cure a whole host of ailments. From soothing pain to calming nerves, fighting infection to aiding weight loss, nature’s herbs provide a wealth of medicinal benefits and are well suited to being enjoyed in tea form. For example, Chamomile promotes sleep, making these yellow-gold blossoms the perfect just-before-bed tea, while Lemon Verbena has a calming effect on your organs, helping to reduce pain such as cramps, bloating and indigestion.

Our most popular herbal teas

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Hibiscus

These extraordinary, deep red leaves are handpicked from the Hibiscus flower and then dried naturally in the sun. The bright, ruby-red infusion is refreshingly tart and full of vitamin C. We love the zing, but stir in a dash of honey for added sweetness.

Peppermint

These large, whole leaves infuse to produce a deliciously fresh, peppery cup with a cool, minty finish. Naturally caffeine-free and well-known for aiding digestion, this is the perfect cup for after a meal.

Wild Rooibos

Grown exclusively in South Africa's Cedarberg mountains, these tiny leaves get their name Redbush from the deep red colour of the leaves once oxidised. Honey-sweet with notes of dried cherries and vanilla, this is a rich and full-bodied cup, making it a great caffeine-free alternative to a robust breakfast tea.

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