There are so many great flavours to enjoy. But can you tell your ginkgo biloba from your ginseng flower? Here’s all you need to know…
The first thing to learn about herbal tea is that it’s not tea! Tea is called ‘tea’ because it comes from the cured leaves of the tea plant, but herbal varieties don’t. Some say they should instead be called ‘tisanes’, meaning an infusion made from plant matter, but we’ll stick with ‘herbal tea’ because it’s easier.
The medicinal properties of herbal teas were well known in ancient Egypt and China. In fact dried peppermint leaves were found in pyramids built over 3,000 years ago! Since then, scientists have discovered many more health benefits.
Here are just a few:
Chamomile – reduces back pain, calms an upset stomach, improves liver function, relieves rheumatism and relaxes muscle spasm.
Ginger – treats nausea, improves digestion, reduces inflammation, relieves colds and flu and controls chronic pain.
Peppermint – Eases stomach upsets, relieves tension headaches and migraines, unclogs sinuses, improves energy levels and helps with menstrual cramps.
Rosemary – improves circulation, stimulates the liver, boots memory and relieves joint pain.
READ MORE: Why we all need a friendly cuppa
Tips for the perfect cup of tea
There’s more to achieving infusion heaven than drowning a bag in a mug and bashing it around a bit until the colour changes. If that sounds like you, then it’s time to turn over a new leaf.
- Tap water contains fluoride and chlorine which will ruin the delicate aromas and sensations in tea. Make sure you use crystal clear purified and filtered water.
- For subtle chamomile or lemon balm, between 76 and 80 degrees Celsius is ideal. If it’s any hotter, you’ll destroy the intensity of the flavour. For oolong, a refreshing Chinese tea high in antioxidants, 82 degrees is just right.
- Your BIBO water bar can be set to the exact temperature required for any variety of tea. From boiling hot for black or fruit teas to piping hot for most herbal mixtures. It delivers instant water that’s high in minerals but with impurities and bacteria filtered out.
- Steep the tea for at least five minutes, longer if you enjoy a more intense flavour.
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The great thing about herbal tea is that there are literally hundreds of different varieties to choose from. And you can even concoct your own by combining loose ingredients from a specialist tea shop.
Make your own blends of herbal tea!
Inventing your own unique herbal tea is fun and (hopefully) delicious. You can use natural herbs or flowers from your garden or buy dried ingredients.
Here are four elements to include.
- It’s nice to include a flowery note like violet, chamomile or rose petals for a welcoming aroma.
- The placeholder flavour holds everything together. Dried raspberry leaves or nettles are ideal. Use twice as much of this as the other three elements.
- A naturally sweet fruit component is a great idea. Dried rosehips or lemon make a good choice.
- A cooling herb like mint, borage or neem round out the recipe.