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Herbal teas stem from ancient folklore and have been used for as long as we could ever imagine, passed through the ages and then into the 1960s on the wings of the health food revolution, and are now increasingly sipped by westerners eager to get away from the caffeine and tannins in traditional tea and reap the health benefits of the endless varieties and blends of herbal teas.
To get technical, ‘tea’ refers only to beverages made from the tea plant, the camellia bush (black, green, white and oolong teas). Other ‘teas’ are in fact ‘infusions’ or ‘tisanes’. A distinction can also be drawn between herbals teas (drunk for pleasure) and herbal infusions (generally brewed for longer and provide greater supposed health benefits).
But ‘herbal tea’ is widely understood for most of us as an alternative to camellia plant teas.
How Are Herbal Teas Made?
They can be hot or chilled, decorated with loose leaves or flowers, and enjoyed as part of a morning, evening, or work day routine.
The Calming and Healing Effects of Herbal Tea
We turn to teas, herbal or otherwise, for calming and to improve our state of mind.
Certain plants and blends bring the peace needed for sleep or anxiety, or the energy needed for healing, thinking, and for action.
Peppermint is sometimes used to settle the stomach, and to calm the mind.
Ginger is used to settle nausea, allay stomach problems and ease arthritis.
Chamomile and lavender are both used to calm and to aid sleep.
The list of beautiful, fragrant plants stretches on, cardamom, rosehip, blackberry and lemon balm… and most of them make for a decent tea, or at the very least a decent ingredient to add some flavor to another type of tea.
How To Prepare Herbal Teas?
The preparation of herbal teas is simple; however, there are a few rules to follow.
If the scientific reasons for the rules interest you, clear explanations are easily located online by tea specialists.
Firstly, the water should not be too hot. Teas are made from delicate, aromatic parts of the plant which release their flavors easily.
Therefore the tea should be steeped in hot water off the heat, rather than boiled on the element. The beverage can be made in a batch to last a day then be stored in the fridge, to prevent it going flat and sour.
Alternately the use of a tea egg or similar utensil to steep small amounts of a dried leaf or bend can be used for individual cups or tea pots, usually for three to five minutes before serving.
You may wish to research your ingredients to get the ideal infusion time and temperature, as different plants release their oils at different rates; some may be reused, like peppermint, others will go bitter, like licorice.