Ultimate Guide To Herbal Tea
Since its first discovery in China, tea has spread to almost every corner of the world, becoming the second most popular drink worldwide, behind only water. However, in its journey around the globe, the definition of tea has grown to mean many things.
There are two main categories to consider when talking about tea: true tea and herbal tea. True tea consists of black, white, green, and oolong tea, which all originate from the same plant, the Camellia Sinensis (also known as the tea plant).
Herbal tea is simply tea made from blends of edible plants and herbs. It may look like a minor distinction to make on the surface, but the difference between the two types is more extensive than you might think.
This guide will help clear up the differences between the two and hopefully introduce you to your next favorite cup of tea!
Which Tea is Which?
Before diving into the nitty-gritty differences between the two types of tea, it can be helpful to put names to faces. While some popular teas like English Breakfast (black tea) and Jasmine (green tea) fall into the true tea category, you might find many of your favorites on this list of herbal teas:
Even beyond this list, herbal tea makes up a considerable percentage of the world’s tea supply, and for a good reason.
Herbal Tea vs. True Tea
The divide between the two types of tea lies in three main differences; caffeine content, health benefits, and range of choice. Without further ado, let’s dive into the main differences between herbal tea and true tea!
Does Herbal Tea Have Caffeine?
When trying to pick out a type of tea, the first thing many people do is check for caffeine. Whether you’re trying to find an alternative to coffee or trying to avoid a jolt from your morning beverage, caffeine is a large deciding factor in the type of tea you drink.
Thankfully, this is also the easiest way to tell if tea is true or herbal! If the tea you’re drinking has any caffeine in it, you’ve got naturally caffeinated, true tea on your hands. On the other hand, herbal tea is entirely caffeine-free and is most known for its calming effects.
So the next time you’re looking for a hot cup of tea, but you want to avoid the ups and downs of caffeine, opt for herbal!
What’s In It For Me?
Besides providing a caffeine-free tea option, there are a wide array of herbal tea benefits. These health benefits differ from drink to drink, but adding some herbal tea to your life can improve several health issues.
Some of the most popular herbal teas are also the most beneficial! Chamomile tea, the most popular herbal choice, has been shown to help with upset stomachs and relaxation. Peppermint tea has been linked to helping those with digestion issues, and ginger tea is often used for its anti-inflammatory properties.
Herbal teas are also renowned for their role in defending your body from molecules called free radicals. Free radical molecules can be dangerous to your health if left unbalanced and can lead to oxidative stress, a condition that destroys DNA, proteins, and fatty tissues in the body.
While your body naturally produces antioxidants to balance free radicals, drinking herbal tea can help maintain your antioxidant levels and keep you healthier!
The More the Merrier
Indeed, people love herbal tea for its soothing effects and health-boosting abilities, but beyond that, people love how versatile herbal tea can be. While true teas all have to come from the Camellia Sinensis plant, herbal teas can come from almost anywhere.
This can make a big difference for tea drinkers, as it gives them more options to choose from when shopping for their favorite brews. Even better, many herbal tea ingredients can be grown at home, bypassing the store altogether!
Myths and Legends
While various health properties can be found in herbal tea, there are also some health myths associated with them.
Myth: Echinacea tea can help me cure my cold.
Truth: While Echinacea supplements have shown some ability to ease the symptoms, there is no tangible proof that they can cure a common cold. While there is no harm in drinking Echinacea tea when you have a cold, don’t expect it to cure your sickness overnight.
Myth: Drinking herbal tea can help me lose weight.
Truth: Some herbal teas may help boost your antioxidants or reduce inflammation, but teas marketed as “weight-loss” are likely not that healthy for you. These teas are based on laxatives from plants such as buckthorn, senna, and aloe and should generally be avoided.
Myth: Herbal tea is safer during pregnancy than regular tea.
Truth: While some herbal teas can be better for you than others, there is no real proof that all herbal teas are safer to drink than true teas during pregnancy. Instead, research the ingredients of a tea if you’re concerned about the effect it might have.
Herbal teas can be great for your health, and most of them genuinely are! Just remember to be cautious, and research anything that might seem too good to be true.
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