Updated: Dec 28, 2020
There has been a lot of debate going among the tea aficionados whether herbal tea is real tea or not. If you are an avid tea drinker, then you must have come across different types of teas such as black tea, green tea, oolong tea, yellow tea, etc. These tend to dominate the conversation when talking about tea. However, herbal teas are slowly taking over due to their endless health benefits. They have never been so popular with tea enthusiasts increasingly switching to herbs as they are looking to reduce their caffeine intake. But, are they actually tea?
Don’t worry, we are here to put light on the subject matter. Considering the growing confusion among people, we have created this post where we will discuss everything you need to know about herbal teas, and is it the same thing as real tea.
Let’s get started.
The Short Answer
No, herbal tea is not actually a tea! There’s tea, and there is herbal tea, and they are not the same. And herbal tea is not a type of tea as well. We will get into the details of it in the upcoming sections.
Why aren’t herbal teas considered real tea?
Simply put, real tea is made from the leaves of a single plant, known as Camellia Sinensis. Oolong tea, white tea, black tea, green tea, Pu-erh tea, and yellow tea are considered to be real teas. They are all made from the same Camellia Sinensis. The only difference between the six types is how they are processed.
● Green tea is harvested, withered, and rolled but not oxidised. Fresh tea leaves are pan-fried or steamed to a temperature hot enough to prevent enzymes from browning the leaves.
● White tea is recently opened buds that are simply plucked and allowed to wither dry.
● Black tea utilises the five basic steps of tea processing - rolling, steaming, hot, dry, withering, and oxidation. Black tea is the strongest of all tea types.
● Oolong tea is a complex category that can be described as half-way between green tea and black tea. Hence, the processes involved are different.
● Yellow tea is similar to green tea, but the leaves are slightly oxidised, which gives the tea its natural yellow colour.
● Pu’erh/Post fermented tea is a totally different art of tea processing. The tea leaves undergo the process, which is the same as green tea. However, before the leaves are dried, they are aged. In simple terms, pu’erh tea is fermented tea.
All these types of teas are processed using the same Camellia Sinensis leaves of a single plant.
Herbal teas, on the other hand, are produced from a variety of herbs or a combination of herbs, which doesn’t include tea leaves. So, it cannot be considered tea. The real tea is only brewed using tea leaves.
We hope that now you understand the difference here.
What is herbal tea?
Herbal tea is not derived from the Camellia Sinensis plant. Instead, it is a blend or infusion of numerous types of herbal leaves, flowers, seeds, shells, roots, bark, or fruits, belonging to almost any edible, non-tea plant. In Europe, herbal teas are popularly known as Tisanes.
Herbal teas have been in the picture for quite long now. But over the past couple of decades, their popularity has surged dramatically thanks to their vibrant flavours, as well as a plethora of physical, emotional, and mental health benefits.
The reason why herbal tea has gained immense popularity among the tea aficionados is that it allows people to go back to the fundamentals and focus on health and wellbeing through a holistic approach, which is the need of the hour in an increasingly chaotic and stressful world.
On the other hand, herbal tea can be prepared from almost any combination of natural ingredients, as long as it tastes good. You will be surprised to know that there are hundreds of varieties of herbal teas available, each with their own health benefits and flavour qualities.
Some of the most popular types of herbal teas, including their health benefits, are mentioned below:
● Patchouli Tea - increases sexual drive
● Ginger Tea - heartburn
● Spearmint Tea - anti-bacterial and anti-nausea
● Turmeric Tea
● Kava Herbal Tea - fights depression
● Peppermint Tea - antispasmodic
● Hibiscus Tea - lowers anxiety
● Chamomile Tea - for a sense of calmness
● Cinnamon Herbal Tea - for immune system boost
● Lemongrass Tea - lowers cholesterol
● Dandelion Tea - for digestion and weight loss
● Eucalyptus Tea - blood circulation
● Fennel Herbal Tea - muscle enhancer
● Violet Tea - inflammation and headaches
● Uva Ursi (bearberry) Tea - for healthy bladder
● Thyme Tea - stomach distress
● Yarrow Herbal Tea - menstrual relief
● Rosemary Tea - aids brain functioning
● Jasmine Tea - metabolism booster
● Ginseng - anti-carcinogenic
● Feverfew - for migraines and vomiting
● Amacha - for urinary troubles
● Catnip Tea - induces a relaxed mind
● Echinacea Herbal Tea - for bronchitis
● Marjoram Tea - improves insulin tolerance in diabetic patients
● Oregano tea - prevent wrinkles, age spots, and blemishes
● Hyssop - controls blood sugar level
● Hawthorn - energy booster
● Juniper Berry Tea - for skin health
As you can see from the above list, any plant, herb, fruit, seeds, anything that is edible to humans, one can prepare herbal tea out of it. And what’s interesting is that, in order to enhance the flavour and aromatic properties of their herbal tea, people tend to mix a combination of herbs when preparing their tea. It is your choice how you make your tea.
As compared to real tea, herbal tea gives you more options in terms of colours, flavours, and is beneficial for your health as well.
Preparing Herbal Tea
There are basically two different ways to prepare your herbal teas. They are:
1. Decoction: It is a process in which you combine the woody parts of the herb, such as the bark or the roots, with water and bring it to boil. Many tea drinkers prefer decoction as it is the best way to extract minerals and nutrients from denser parts of the herb.
2. Infusion: It is the most common process of preparing herbal tea. In infusion, you only use the non-woody parts of the herb, such as stems, flowers, and leaves. And instead of boiling the mixture, the ingredients are put directly into boiled water.
This is everything you need to know about herbal tea. We hope that it will help you clear out the confusion regarding whether herbal tea is real tea or not.