Herbal Teas: Your Questions Answered
Britons drink an estimated 165 million cups of Tea a day. Most will agree that’s quite a lot, but how many of these brews are Herbal Teas? As it turns out, many people are making the switch from traditional cuppas to their Herbal counterparts. Indeed, statistics suggest that Herbal Tea sales in the UK have risen by 31% since 2012. Is it time you made the change, too?
Moving away from conventional beverages such as Black or Green Tea can be difficult. Perhaps you’re prepared to do so but are unsure where to start? Below, The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company has answered some of your frequently asked questions (FAQ). Once you know the facts, you can try a wide assortment of Herbal Teas right here with us. Keep reading to find out more!
The term “Herbal Tea” (or “Herbal Tisane”) refers to a beverage that DOESN’T derive from the Camellia sinensis (Tea) plant. In other words, they aren’t technically “Teas” at all! However, the world has since ‘adopted’ them as ‘honourary’ Teas.
Regardless of the specific name, this type of infusion uses various leaves, roots, bark or flowers. These ingredients can come from almost any edible plant. Brewed fruits, on the other hand, usually go by the name “Fruit Tea” or “Fruit Tisane Teas”.
Is Herbal Tea the Same as Green Tea and Black Tea?
Is Green Tea a Herbal Tea and what about Black Tea? If you think about it, after all, both types come from a plant - just like Herbal Teas. Despite this, all so-called ‘real’ types of Tea (e.g. Green, Black, White and Oolong) are considered entirely different from Herbal infusions.
There is no one answer as to why this is the case; rather, there are many. Some recognise Herbal infusions as different because Teas to originate from the Camellia sinensis plant often undergo several stages of processing. Others see the presence of caffeine as a deciding factor.
What about Tea blends that include herbs? Is Earl Grey Tea a Herbal Tea, for example? Again, no. Although Earl Grey contains bergamot oil, it also has Black Tea leaves. Other similar blends that have ‘a bit of both’ include Peppermint Matcha Tea and Ginseng Black Tea.
Some believe that branching away from conventional beverages means having to learn complicated brewing techniques. While some such as Lapacho Tea require a little extra effort, most follow the same instructions as, say, Black Tea.
The main difference concerning “how to make Herbal Tea” is the length of the brewing period. As a rule of thumb, Green Tea and White Tea should brew for only 1-2 minutes. Black Tea, meanwhile, can be left for 3-5 minutes.
Herbal infusions, in comparison, taste best after 5-10 minutes. This gives the leaves, roots, bark or flowers time to impart their distinct tasting notes.
Yes! After all, when brewed, the vast majority of its content is water! However, when it comes to “Is Tea A Diuretic”, it's worth noting that some Herbal infusions indeed ‘fit the bill’.
Depending on the type you choose, your morning cuppa might promote the formation of urine. For some, this is good news. For others, less so. So which type does what?
The two most used beverages for their diuretic qualities are Milk Thistle and Dandelion Root Tea. Others that might have a similar effect include Peppermint, Nettle, Ginger and Fennel.
The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company offer relevant information on all of our products in each description.
Calories in Tea vary significantly depending on the type. Green, White, Black and Oolong, for example, tend to have no more than two calories per 8 oz serving. But what about Herbal infusions? Well, in essence, the very same rule applies!
The best known lowest calorie choices are Camomile and Peppermint. Theses two brews, as well as a few others, have no more than 2.4 calories per 8 oz serving.
Hibiscus Tea, on the other hand, is one of the most calorific Herbal Teas at 37 calories. Even this, however, isn’t much when compared to sugary soft and fizzy drinks
Does Camomile Herbal Tea Have caffeine? What about Lemongrass, Hibiscus or Rose Petal? Essentially, almost every type of Herbal Tea is void of caffeine. The question begs: Is this a good or bad thing? Well, that very much depends on your perspective!
Consuming too much Caffeine in Tea and Coffee can lead to side effects such as jitteriness and sleeplessness. This is particularly true for caffeine-sensitive individuals. Those who’re pregnant, meanwhile, should not, according to NHS Choices, exceed more than 200 mg of caffeine daily. With most Herbal Teas, however, you don’t have to worry about any caffeine at all.
Did you notice that we said “ALMOST” every type of Herbal Tea is void of caffeine? One noteworthy exception to the rule is that of Yerba Mate. This Tea (pronounced “Yer-bah-mah-tay”) is the product of a plant (Ilex Paraguariensis) that grows predominantly in the South American rainforest.
It belongs to the Holy family, standing at 6-8 metres tall while producing evergreen leaves, small berries and greenish-white flowers. Many say that it combines the energy boost of Coffee, the benefits of Tea and the endorphin buzz of chocolate.
This is in part due to its brewed leaves containing around 85 mg of caffeine per 8 oz cup. (That’s the equivalent of roughly two cups of regular Black Tea).
Many plants produce tannins as a sort of defensive mechanism. When animals (or humans!) eat the plant, it gives off a bitter taste to try and deter the creature.
There are, however, several types of Herbal Tea that contain little to no tannins. Rooibos is an example of a low-tannin infusion that has, in recent years, become increasingly popular. Camomile, meanwhile, contains none.
Perhaps you’re wondering “Are Tea Tannins Bad For You?” Some might not like the taste, but do they really cause any harm? There is little evidence to suggest that consuming tannins in Tea has any adverse side effects. Although it might, in some cases, hinder digestion and metabolism, it is worth noting that this is unlikely. In other words, try not to worry too much!
We’ve mentioned it already, but let’s now look at this remarkable beverage a little closer. Rooibos is a herb that grows exclusively in the Cederberg region of South Africa. It comes from the perennial Aspalathus linearis plant, a member of the Fabaceae (Legume) family.
This plant can reach heights of up to 3 feet (0.9 metres) and has thin, needle-like leaves. It’s these leaves used in the making of this delectable infusion. When brewed, it boasts a wholesome flavour reminiscent of nuts, honey and caramel. What’s more, there are many Rooibos Tea Benefits!
Are Herbal Teas healthy? You bet they are! The primary reason? A wealth of beneficial compounds with every cuppa brewed. Peppermint Tea is a particularly popular choice. Its constituents include (but are not limited to) Vitamins A, B, C and D, calcium, copper and iron.
Another option known for its medicinal qualities is that of Turmeric Tea. This beverage has high levels of magnesium, potassium and zinc. Combined, these kinds of chemical compounds make for a match made in heaven in terms of their health potential.
Recent scientific research supports many of the claims made about Herbal Tea benefits. For example, we now have proof that Korean Ginseng Tea enhances cognitive function. Furthermore, evidence indicates that Lavender Tea improves skin health. This, however, is to name but a few benefits. There are many, many more waiting to be discovered!
Most infusions to use herbs and spices contain an abundance of antioxidants. But what, exactly, are they? Antioxidants are, in essence, molecules that combat free radicals in the body. Free radicals are, in turn, unpaired (and unsafe!) electrons introduced through the natural, though harmful, process of oxidation. Sound confusing? Let’s start at the beginning.
Oxidation occurs in humans and Tea alike. In the context of your morning cuppa, it refers to a change in the chemical structure of the leaf during its processing. This is, in many respects, how Green Tea becomes Black Tea. Humans experience oxidation, meanwhile, through the transference of oxygen around the body. However, if this process becomes imbalanced, then too many free radicals appear in the body.
Having too many of these mischievous electrons in your system can, when left unchecked, cause many problems. Most notably, they can increase the risk of developing numerous chronic conditions. This includes type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even cancer.
When you drink a cup of Herbal Tea filled with antioxidants, it has the opposite effect. Although it’s not going to cure you of ailments, it might at least help in reducing risks. Pretty cool, huh?
While Green Matcha Tea for Weight Loss has the limelight at the moment, it isn’t the only infusion that works. There are several Herbal Teas to choose when it comes to once again fitting into your favourite pair of jeans. The best options, however, are likely Rooibos, Lemon Verbena and Rosehip Tea.
Rooibos, according to South Africa Rooibos Council spokesperson Ernest du Toit, has many outstanding qualities. He said:
“[This beverage] contains no fat or carbohydrates and its weight-loss properties further extend to inhibiting fat-stage hormones within the body. Rooibos’ unique bioflavonoid, Aspalathin, helps to reduce stress hormones that trigger hunger and fat storage… [which is] typically associated with high blood pressure, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, and type-2 diabetes. In a nutshell, Rooibos Tea can prevent the body from storing and even forming new fat cells”.
There is evidence that Lemon Verbena, meanwhile, can reduce muscle damage during workout periods. This is according to research published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology. It saw participants work out for 90 minutes daily after consuming Lemon Verbena extract. By the project’s conclusion, scientists noted a reduction in the amount of overall muscle damage experienced by the test subjects.
Finally, a study on Rosehip Tea saw participants consume either Rosehip extract or a placebo for twelve weeks. The results established that those who took the herb had significantly lower abdominal visceral fat compared to the placebo group.
There is no better beverage for this particular health benefit than Hibiscus Tea. Indeed, according to the American Heart Association (AHA), 3 cups of it a day is all you need. AHA conducted a study to prove this. It started by gathering sixty-five people aged 30-70, with each participant considered “at-risk” from high blood pressure. Researchers then split the participants into two groups.
The first group consumed Hibiscus extract three times a day, while the second group received a placebo. After six weeks, the results determined that the Hibiscus Group “showed an average fall of 7.2 percent in blood pressure, with some recording a 13.2 percent drop. The placebo group, in comparison, recorded a 1.3 percent drop”. That’s a big difference and proved Hibiscus Tea Lowers Blood Pressure.
Most have asked themselves the question: “Should You Drink Tea Before Bed?” If that Tea is Camomile, then the answer is “yes!” This is because it can, according to countless studies, improve sleep patterns. One 2011 study published in European Neuropsychopharmacology, in particular, can explain how.
The research discovered that the beneficial phytochemicals in Camomile have three primary effects on the central nervous system. First, these phytochemicals positively influence neurotransmitters in the brain, most notably monoamine transmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. In turn, serotonin and dopamine improve sleep, enhance mood and even relieve depression.
Second, Camomile Tea works with gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors in the central nervous system to promote a state of calmness. Third and finally, Camomile’s phytochemicals benefit your neurohormones, which are responsible for inducing sleep.
The most essential neurohormone involved is melatonin, which is released into the body as a response to darkness. Ultimately, Camomile Tea supports melatonin’s function of regulating our wake-sleep cycle.
Problems with digestion are far from uncommon. Many of us might experience acid reflux, bloating, cramping, inflammation or even Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). The good news is that Herbal Tea can help. But the question begs: “What is the Best Tea for Digestion?” As is turns out, there are a few. We recommend Peppermint, Fennel, Ginger and Rooibos.
For starters, Peppermint Tea can soothe the intestines, relieve abdominal pain and reduce bloating. It can also, according to one recent study, relax gastrointestinal tissue. Fennel Tea, meanwhile, has the support of a 2012 review published by the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition. Marco Valussi, the author of the review, stated that:
“A Herbal combination including fennel eliminated intestinal pain by 95% in test subjects who had chronic, nonspecific colitis.”
When it comes to Ginger Tea Benefits, it’s worth noting that people have used it for improved digestion for centuries. Indeed, it was Confucious (551-479 CE) himself who first realised its potential. Now, we know that it can relieve gastrointestinal irritation as well as lessen gastric contractions. It can also help with acid reflux due to its outstanding anti-inflammatory properties.
Then there is Rooibos, a herb that never ceases to surprise. In terms of aiding digestion, its antioxidants, as well as its anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties, offer outstanding benefits. Research published in the Basic & Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology Journal can explain how. It noted that Rooibos’ compounds such as quercetin and vitexin relaxed the digestive system while, overall, relieving feelings of discomfort.
When it comes to “What are the Best Teas for Bloating?”, there are many to choose from. In fact, most of the infusions mentioned for improved digestion also help with this particular problem. One that stands out, however, is that of Dandelion Tea.
A study published in a 2011 issue of Neurogastroenterology and Motility looks particularly promising. It established that extracts of Dandelion increased gastric motility by up to 37%. This refers to the rate that food passes through the stomach, which helps to relieve bloating.
Perhaps even more interestingly, researchers noted that the herb increased gastric motility by 18% more than a drug used for the same purpose. In other words, or at least in theory, Dandelion Tea may help support the digestive system better than approved pharmaceuticals.
Can you have Herbal Tea when pregnant? Technically, yes, but it depends on which type. Some have the potential to be beneficial, while others might be harmful. A better question would be “What Herbal Teas are safe for pregnancy?”
Enter Raspberry Leaf Tea and pregnancy. Many doctors, midwives and other health professionals recommend this Herbal infusion during the third trimester of pregnancy (not before!). The consensus is that mothers-to-be start with one cup of this Herbal Tea a day at the 32-week mark. After a couple of weeks, there is the option to increase daily consumption to 2-3 cups.
Evidence suggests that by maintaining this level of consumption, there is a lower chance of running past 41 weeks. Some personal accounts even go as far as to recommend Raspberry Leaf Tea for VBAC (Vaginal Birth After C-Section) mothers.
Similar to drinking Herbal Tea while pregnant, it’s best to be wary with this one. However, there are some suggestions that Rooibos (in moderation) can lessen symptoms of infantile colic. This is a condition defined as lengthy episodes of crying for more than 3 hours a day.
The discovery that Rooibos could help with colic was made by a South African mother named Annique Theron (1929-2016). The story goes that on April 8, 1967, Mrs Theron’s 14-month-old daughter, Lorinda, was experiencing severe colic. Out of desperation, Annique decided to warm her milk with Rooibos Tea in an attempt to calm her child. This resulted in Lorinda sleeping for 3 hours straight!
One year later, in 1968, Theron published a book entitled: “Allergies: An Amazing Discovery”. Since then, Rooibos sales have risen by around 50%. It’s essential to note, however, that a colicky baby isn’t necessarily an unhealthy baby. What’s more, many health professionals would likely advise against Herbal remedies for children.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we recommend exercising caution when drinking Herbal Tea while breastfeeding. While the likes of Peppermint and Camomile have been studied extensively, there is always a chance of side effects. In other words, be careful and drink only in moderation.
In fact, allow us this opportunity to make a couple of safety notes. When it comes to Herbal Tea and pregnancy, breastfeeding and babies, it’s vital to listen to the professionals. The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company will always advise you seek medical consultation for the aforementioned purposes.
While the pros far outweigh the cons, some Herbal and Fruit Teas can stain or even mildly damage your teeth. (Emphasis on “some” and “mildly”!). This is because they might, according to preliminary research, wear away the outer covering of your teeth, called enamel. (Emphasis on “preliminary”!).
However, NHS Choices has, to some degree, come to the defence of these beverages. Their website states: “Although we know acidic foods can cause tooth erosion, many of the studies included in this review… were likely to be less reliable than others… The review gives no methods, so we can’t be sure that all relevant research on the topic has been identified.”
It’s unlikely, but not impossible, that some Herbal Teas can cause diarrhoea. This almost certainly depends on the specifics of your health. Rather than leading to diarrhoea, there is a good chance of infusions such as Peppermint, Ginger and Dandelion relieving constipation.
The soothing effect of the menthol in Peppermint Tea, for example, may help to move stool through the intestines. Ginger Tea may, indeed, have a similar influence on your bowel movements. Dandelion Tea, on the other hand, can stimulate the liver to produce bile, which can indirectly help with constipation.
Although (once again) not impossible, there is little evidence to indicate that Herbal Tea can cause heartburn. In fact, there is a better chance of it improving cardiovascular health rather than hindering it. Seeing as we haven’t mentioned it already, let’s use Mulberry Tea Benefits as a positive example.
A 2013 study published in BioMed Research International found that this beverage lowers “bad” LDL cholesterol. It saw patients given 280 grams of Mulberry Leaf Powder, three times a day, over three months. By the end of the study, serum triglyceride and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels were significantly reduced.
Yes, for the most, it’s absolutely fine to blend Herbal Teas. In fact, The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company has already done it for you! If you’re having trouble sleeping, why not try Camomile, Lavender and Rose Herbal Blend? All three ingredients can help with insomnia and nervousness.
Alternatively, we stock a Turmeric, Lemon and Ginger Tea for the more adventurous. This particular beverage not only tastes great, but also comes with a unique range of health benefits. Much of the same can be said about Moringa Citrus Wellness Tea, too.
Choose Echinacea Tea! One study saw 95 participants with sore throats, mild fever and runny noses drink this infusion daily for five days. Researchers concluded that almost all of the test subjects experienced reduced symptoms by the end of the project.
An even bigger study conducted in 2012 saw 700 participants consume Echinacea extract daily for at least four months. Here, it was established that all those involved had fewer colds and side effects thanks to this incredible herb.
Perhaps most noteworthy, however, was a meta-analysis of 14 clinical trials. It concluded that drinking Echinacea Loose Tea reduced the risk of developing a cold by up to 58%. What’s more, it recognised a reduction in the duration of a cold by 1-4 days.
You don’t have to - not when you buy with us, at least! The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company have a wide selection of Loose Tea accessories. If you’d like to keep things simple, choose our Loose Tea Filters. Also popular is our stainless steel Mesh Infuser.
When making a brew for a loved one, there is the option of using our Heart Shaped Tea Infuser. If, however, you’re making cuppas for EVERYONE, our Modern Loose Tea Strainer is an excellent choice. Whatever you decide, you’ve chosen well right here.
Look no further than our outstanding range of Herbal Tea products. If none of those mentioned already has yet inspired, do not worry. What about Blackcurrant Leaves, Pine Needles or Linden Flower Tea? Could Chrysanthemum be the brew for you? Perhaps Thyme or Sage Tea instead?
Once you’ve picked one (or more!), the journey can begin. Best of all, we pack all of our Loose Tea, Tisanes and Coffees fresh to order. This ensures not only quality but also consistency. What more could you want from your cuppa?