Not in the mood for regular coffee or tea? Perhaps herbal tea will hit the spot. Technically, herbal teas are not considered a true tea. Made with herbal components that can soothe and bring health benefits along with a refreshing flavor, herbals teas make a great beverage you can enjoy anytime, hot or cold.
Want to know more about herbal tea? You’re in the right place. Discover more about herbal tea plus the 17 most popular varieties that you may want to pour into your favorite mug tonight!
What is Herbal Tea?
Most people are surprised to find out that herbal tea is not actually tea. Since it doesn’t come from the same plant that makes all the other teas, called Camellia sinensis, it isn’t true tea.
Herbal tea is a blend of different things. You can combine dried fruits, flowers, roots, various leaves, bark, and any edible non-tea plant to make herbal tea. As such, there are endless possibilities of the kinds of herbal teas that can be created.
These types of teas have been around for quite some time. Recently though, they’ve become more popular because they offer some physical and mental benefits. Plus, they have beautiful flavor profiles, bringing on the whole new dawn of connoisseurs that seek them out. Their holistic benefits and unique tastes are usually enjoyed hot but are equally as palatable served over ice.
Origin of Herbal Tea
Since ancient times, people have been taking roots, plants, and herbs from their native environments and combining them into drinks for herbal teas. This practice can be traced to ancient times in both Egypt and China, two cultures that were big on herbal medicinal benefits.
The Greek physician known as Dioscorides was able to describe over 600 medicinal plants in the 1st century AD to be used for steeping in water. This practice was to create healing waters. Modern researchers also confirmed the use of these plants in ancient Egypt when looking through the pyramids. They found dried peppermint leaves dating back to 1,000 BC, and believe these were used to help digestion.
But herbals blends weren’t just for physical wellness. Ancient historical records were able to reveal that these plant blends brought on calmness and spirituality. It’s something that continues today, likely because most people feel better when they drink them. Perhaps it’s the aroma of these herbal teas, or the powers the flowers, herbs, and plants that are used to make the supply to those that drink them.
Medicinal Properties Of Herbal Tea
Because there are so many kinds of herbal teas, it may help to focus on the benefits you want to receive before selecting one. Some can help you sleep better. Others can tame inflammation and relieve joint pain. You may find some give you just the right kick to make you feel energetic again.
Herbal teas combine a variety of herbs, spices, and plants that make them easy to brew together and enjoy. By steeping them, they make a tasty beverage to easily enjoy. You don’t always need a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down…these lovely botanical elements create vivid flavor profiles that make drinking herbal tea for your health one of the easiest things to do.
Depending on the herbal tea you choose, you could receive a bounty of benefits. Some can help calm you down in stressful times. Others may help soothe your stomach when it feels unpleasant. You’ll find varieties that give you antioxidants to fight diseases and keep your skin looking beautiful. You’ll also find herbal teas that soothe cold symptoms.
But how do you know which one to choose for the benefits you seek? Simply keep reading to discover a list of 17 of the most popular herbal teas!
17 Popular Types Of Herbal Tea
Whether you’re looking to try more herbal tea varieties for flavor or for the health benefits they bring, these 17 popular types of herbal tea are a great place to start!
Chamomile is likely one herbal tea you’ve heard of. It’s been used as a remedy for thousands of years. Because of its calming nature, it is a fantastic choice if you are stressed out or want to ease into sleep. Studies show that it may help keep inflammation at bay, relieve stomach pain, relax muscles, and give you a calmness that helps you sleep.
When you taste chamomile tea, it has a very mellow flavor. It’s clean, floral, and very gentle with subtle notes of apple and a sweetness akin to honey. The aroma itself is soothing enough but once you take that first sip, you’ll really get into it.
Refreshing and calming, peppermint tea is lightly sweet in flavor with a unique cooling sensation. Some peppermint teas are blended with green tea for an even more healthful impact, though not all of them are. Even without green tea added in, this beneficial herbal tea reduces stress, helps digestion, and keeps the stomach soothed. It also helps keep your immune system strong and maybe a great choice if you feel a cold coming on.
The beautiful hibiscus flower also makes a charming herbal tea. According to research, this tea may benefit those with high blood pressure and cholesterol. It can’t hurt to drink something that brings you better health and hibiscus tea is easy to enjoy. Some like it hot while others prefer it cold. It has a tart taste that may remind you of cranberries. Give it a taste, and if it’s too tart for you, try adding in some raw organic honey to give you more healthful benefits or give a squeeze of citrus juice. These additions will work well with the flavor and make it more balanced.
Grown only in South Africa, rooibos is distinctive in flavor. It’s very earthy yet sweet and is wonderfully blended with other beneficial herbs, flowers, or fruits. You’ll love it just the way it is without needing to blend it with other items. Plus, it has such potent antioxidants that it can lead to better health. In particular, rooibos may reduce cholesterol and high blood pressure while boosting airflow and circulation to your lungs. You’ll love this nutty, full-bodied, and refreshing herbal tea. Rooibos is an excellent choice if you want to cut down on your coffee intake as it satisfies and delights all the same.
There are many reasons to drink sage tea. It is often used to relieve pain and fight infection though research shows that it could help with an array of health concerns. Things, as varied as obesity, depression, diabetes, dementia, heart disease, and cancer, might see improvement through this tea.
But you may just want to drink it for the taste. It’s delicate and sweet with earthy notes. And the fragrant aroma will make you feel warm and cozy. Many people choose to drink safe tea between meals as it is easier to appreciate its distinctive flavor.
It’s sometimes called “Melissa” but most people will call it lemon balm. This relative of the mint family has a milder flavor that comes across with more lemon. And it gives you the same benefits as mint teas.
You’ll want to drink lemon balm tea when your stomach is uncomfortable or you need to calm your body and mind. Perhaps you’ll just adore the flavor though. It’s minty yet sweet with citrus tones, something that tastes cheerful with every sip.
Ginger tea is ideal for nausea and upset stomachs. It’s also what herbal tea makers will use to add a natural spicy profile to tea blends like chai. Ginger is wonderful for brain and heart health, keeping blood sugar regulated, and anti-cancer properties. When you choose ginger tea, it’s not really sweet or savory but herbal. It has a grassy non-bitter taste. Usually, you’ll find it mixed with citrus and other fruits that make a beautiful pairing with ginger’s naturally earthy flavor.
As one of the most popular spices, it should surprise no one that cinnamon makes a lovely tea. It has plenty of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. These may be what helps to lower blood pressure and protect your heart health.
Just as you love this spice to make desserts and treats, cinnamon tea has a light sweetness and spiciness on its own. It’s perfect as-is though if you add lemon juice or honey, you will have an even more delightful flavor combination.
Lemongrass is an herb that you’ll often find used in Asian cuisine, particularly Thai food. As a tea though, it may help bring pain relief, calm anxiety, lower blood pressure, and manage a healthy weight. Plus, it has both anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. As a tea, it has a slightly lemony taste that’s less astringent and tangy compared to regular lemons. So if you like lemons but don’t want to be overpowered by them, you’ll love lemongrass tea for its sweet and crisp flavors.
Also known as holy basil, this adaptogenic herb has long been revered for its stress-busting qualities. It’s great for your overall health since adaptogens are good for helping lifestyle-related diseases and stress. This herb is anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, antioxidant, antimicrobial, and radioprotective. Tulsi is fascinating in flavor with a pleasing yet original taste. It’s semi-sweet and minty in spiciness. As it is related to basil, it may be floral and peppery at once though some types do smell of cloves in aroma with that spiced flavor. Others will be more lemony. You should try different types of tulsi tea to see which one appeals to you most.
Ashwagandha is similar to tulsi in that it’s an adaptogenic herb. It is often used for stress, anxiety, and aiding with sleep. And it may help keep your brain and heart protected. The flavor of this tea is a little on the bitter side and earthy. Some say it tastes like dirt and are not a fan of the flavor on its own. However, if you add honey, cardamom, and buttermilk, it gives it a lovely taste that you’ll enjoy as you reap the healthful benefits it brings.
Raspberry leaf tea has sometimes been encouraged for pregnant women to drink to shorten labor but more proof is needed. One thing it does quite well though is improving metabolism and encourage weight loss. This tear is similar to a fruity black tea in flavor. Think Earl Grey though with a full body and fruity and earthy notes. It’s like taking rose hips and hibiscus and putting them all together. Raspberry leaf tea is very enjoyable to drink, regardless of any benefits it may bring.
Elderberry supplements are everywhere, promoting stronger immunity. That’s because the flavonoids in the flowers and berries may be effective for treating the flu and other illnesses. It can also relieve pain.
The tea is made from ripe, dried elderberries. This gives it a sweet yet tart and earthy taste. You can give it a more agreeable flavor by adding cinnamon sticks when you boil the tea. You’ll also get the benefits of cinnamon when you do!
Jasmine tea has widely been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It has been used to treat things like fever, anxiety, stomach, ulcers, and sunburn. Its flavor is very delicate and subtle.
Usually, it is blended with green tea. This won’t hamper its sweet hints and floral notes. The gorgeous aroma feels exotic and brings on a relaxing and rejuvenating feeling.
Nettle leaves are often frowned down upon because they can sting and burn when you touch them. Don’t worry about them in the tea though for they won’t cause that sensation.
The health benefits you’ll get from nettle leaf can reduce heart disease, cancer, and diabetes risk. It also helps blood pressure and some say psychotic disorders as well.
When nettle leaves are infused in hot water for tea, it creates a taste much like vegetable broth. Depending on the concentration, it can be mild or strong in flavor.
Want more vitamin C and antioxidants? Grab some rosehip tea. This tea may even have more antioxidants than blueberries and black currants. Plus, rosehip tea might be what you need to help you with your weight loss goals.
It can help protect your brain and skin from aging as well. Made from the fruits of the rose plant, you’ll enjoy a lovely delicate and floral flavor. It’s slightly sweet and has a distinctive tarty finish.
Do you love cooking with rosemary? You’ll likely enjoy it as an herbal tea too. It can help with Alzheimer’s disease as well as anxiety.
While it’s intense in aroma when you make it as a tea and brew it right, it’s so refreshing and light. Think of it like a well-tampered blend of all of the rosemary’s flavors from piney to lemony and fresh.
Other Types of Herbal Tea
Some other herbal teas may benefit you too. Echinacea is often used to keep colds away or shorten the duration of an illness. It may even boost your immune system.
Passionflower tea has been used for ages to calm anxiety and help you sleep. Studies support this, finding that those who drank it for a week significantly improved their sleep. It also helps reduces anxiety as well as anxiety-relieving medications.
In eastern parts of Asia, barley tea sometimes called “mugicha,” is very popular. They use it for helping digestion and weight loss. And before you cringe at the name, licorice root tea is one of the sweetest teas around. Even if you don’t like licorice, you may find this tea to be your favorite. It is often used for stomach pains and quelling coughs.
Caffeine Content in Herbal Tea
Most herbal teas don’t have any caffeine. This makes them a wonderful beverage to drink in the evenings or when you want to cut down on caffeine consumption. Chamomile, peppermint, and ginger teas are not made from the same plant as true teas so they will not have caffeine.
But this doesn’t mean that every herbal tea is free of caffeine. Some like yerba mate naturally contain caffeine. Be sure to read the labels on the herbal teas you choose if the caffeine content is a concern for you. You surely don’t want to sip an herbal tea at night hoping to relax only to find it has been blended with a true tea that contains caffeine.
How to Prepare Herbal Tea
To make herbal tea, you will need the herbal tea of your choosing, a teacup, and a strainer. You’ll first boil your water. You will then want to put your loose herbal teas in a tea strainer. Or you can choose brands that have them premade into tea bags.
Another option is to buy teabags you can seal on your own. Strainers are the purest way to enjoy an herbal tea though.
Once the water has boiled, pour it into your cup so that it submerges your herbal tea. Now cover that teacup on top (you can use a bowl or plate). This keeps the steam from escaping and allows the essential oils in your tea to stay in your cup.
Steeping times will depend on which herbal tea you’re making and how hard the texture is. For most that is of leaves and flowers, 10 minutes is the sweet spot. But things with barks or berries need about 20 minutes. And roots? Those need to steep a minimum of 30 minutes, and may even be best simmered on the stovetop over low heat.
Remove your tea bag or strainer and then sweeten your tea if you would like. Or simply drink it as-is. Some like honey or lemon added in. Depending on the herbal tea you choose, you may need those things or want sugar or another sweetener in there. Ideally, to keep up the good health benefits of herbal tea, you should choose something natural like raw organic honey which has a host of health benefits of its own.
Herbal teas might not be true teas, but that doesn’t mean they don’t provide health benefits. Some of the benefits these herbal teas bring have been backed by research while others go on years of tradition from other cultures. As science checks these beliefs and confirms them, we can see how adding these herbal teas to our daily intake can help with our health needs.
You may find that herbal teas are an enjoyable way to unwind at the end of each day or feel comforted by them when you’re not feeling up to par. Like true teas though, you can brew them up and taste them to discover the ones you like best. It’s fun to have a tasting where you can compare and contrast differing flavors.
Additionally, be sure that you are brewing your herbal teas properly. If using herbal teas in bags, read the directions to see what the best steeping time is for your chosen tea. Loose herbs may also have instructions for proper brewing though if they don’t, the rule of thumb is that the hardier the ingredients, the longer the steep time needed.
Try herbal teas today and you may just discover that your health improves. And with it, you’ll also discover a world of new flavors that bring out the best in your wellness.
About the Author
Lori Bogedin is a health and wellness writer and editor of TwigsCafe.com. She is in the restaurant business since 1999. In 2016 she was named one of the "Top Women in Business" by Northeastern Pennsylvania Business Journal.