With quality organic loose tea herbs readily available, it is a breeze to make herbal tea for health and pleasure. The only hard part is deciding among all the different types of herbal tea to try first and which accessories you will use to make them.
Brewing and sipping tea is nurturing to your body, soul and spirit. Not only that, but when your herbs are chosen with health in mind, they connect you with Mother Nature's most natural medicine.
Tea Trivia: Tea comes from the Camellia sinensis, or tea plant. Varieties include oolong, green, white and black, depending on whether the leaves are fermented and for how long. Herbal brews are called infusions or tisanes. (But just about everyone calls them tea.)
Technically in the tea world, herbs are not tea. Only camellia sinensis is tea. However, in the herb world, all teas are herbs. Blends made with tea and other herbs are also available.
There are two main types of herbal tea to choose from-loose herbs or herbs already packaged in serving sized bags.
You can also choose single herb teas or a variety of combination blends that correspond with your needs. There are varieties for every taste and just about every health need. Usually the name will imply the intended use, such as Tension Tamer, Smooth Moves (for constipation), and Wise Woman Tea (for menopause).
For medicinal or stress relieving benefits it is best to match your symptoms and desired results. If you are on medication, have a serious health condition, or have a pending medical procedure, never use herbs without checking the herbal profile for possible interactions and safety. For example, gingko biloba is great for blood flow and circulation, which could be a good thing except when taken in the weeks before surgery. Also realize that although some herbs are quite powerful, most herbal teas have a mild to moderate effect and may take weeks of regular use for desired results.
Two of my favorite organic loose teas are Ancient Forest Tea and Vanilla Rooibos Tea from Mountain Rose Herbs. Ancient Forest tea is lightly fermented tea leaves from ancient growth plants (500-2700 years old) from the Yunnan province. I felt a bit extravagant buying this tea, but after tasting the deep flavor and how smooth it is, there is no going back to supermarket brands. Vanilla Rooibos herbal tea provides all the benefits of red rooibos flavored with organic vanilla for a yummy rich taste. To really bring out the flavors, add a pinch of stevia or honey.
There are no hard and fast rules to make herbal tea. Each plant is different. There are guidelines, however, which I share below. For best results, follow directions on the package.
Bagged herb teas are a wonderful convenience. If you want the easiest way to make herbal tea, bags are it. I keep several types of herbal tea bags in my purse and in my desk at work.
All you have to do is add the bag to boiled water in your cup or teapot. Cover with a saucer or lid to keep the volatile oils from escaping. Let steep at least five to ten minutes or longer to extract all the goodness. Follow directions on the box for best results. Sometimes you can get two or three servings from a bag.
Health food stores and some grocery stores sell bagged herbal teas from reputable companies such as Organic India, Celestial Seasonings, Traditional Medicinals, and Yogi teas.
Black, green and white teas require shorter brewing times of 2-3 minutes and below boiling point temperatures than herbal teas.
Organic loose tea and herbs cost much less per ounce than individual bags and may be of better quality. In my opinion, they taste better too and have been really pleased to see that you can re-brew some of them once or even twice more. There are many delicious organic loose tea blends available.
To make herbal tea from loose herbs, use about a heaping teaspoon per cup of water. For one cup, it is easiest to steep the herbs in a mesh basket right in your cup.
For larger servings, a french press, or tea pot with an infuser works well. For precision temperatures, which vary by the type of tea you are drinking, electric kettles with temperature control make brewing a breeze. You can also steep your herbs in a pot or glass jar. Strain before drinking.
Roots and seeds need special treatment. Hard parts of plants need to be decocted, or boiled, then simmered and steeped for at least 10-30 minutes, before drinking. Do not worry about this when dried and finely chopped are part of a blend.
Infusions of herbs such as nettles and oatstraw extract vitamins and minerals. They use much larger quantities of herbs and hours-long steeping times. Get the directions here.
If you enjoy blending and mixing you may enjoy making your own herbal teas.
Whether you make herbal tea from a bag, tincture, ready made blend, or capsule, or you make your own herbal tea from scratch, enjoying a cup or more a day is one of life's pleasures you can feel really good about enjoying. By all means sit down and enjoy sipping your brew throughout the day. Enjoy a few deep breaths and mindful moments before picking the pace back up. Your mind and body will thank you.
Herbal tea benefits are not limited to targeted specific needs. Herbs in general bestow many health benefits depending on the compounds they contain. For example, a chai tea containing ginger, cloves, cardamom provide anti-oxidants as well as digestive and anti-inflammatory benefits. Chamomile tea helps you relax and settles a nervous tummy. Plus they provide much needed water. If you drink infusions, they will provide you with vitamins and minerals. It is good for you and yummy to drink!
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