True tea comes from just one plant - Camellia sinensis. This leaves of the camellia are used to make black tea, oolong tea, and green tea. There is a whole other class of “tea,” however, that comes from various herbs and spices. Herbal tea is not a true tea because it does not come from Camellia sinensis, but is nonetheless an enjoyable beverage that has many health benefits.
Herbal tea – also called tisane - can be made from a variety of plants. They can be used individually or combined with other herbs for a huge selection of tastes and medicinal applications.
Herbal tea is made by infusing or boiling the leaves, flowers, roots, stems, seeds, and bark of various plants. Herbal tea can be served as is or with additional sweeteners such as honey or sugar.
The History of Herbal Tea
The first recorded used of herbal tea dates back to the Ayurveda texts of ancient India. These texts are more than 6000 year old and document the use of herbs for curing disease and maintaining health.
Herbal tea has been used in virtually every culture and in every period of history. Folklore passed from one generation to the next preserved the knowledge of the healing properties of herbs.
In our modern world we have drugs for curing disease, but sometimes these drugs have very extreme effects and can harm the body. Although herbal tea is no substitute for modern medical care, the use of tisanes can be a safe supplement to other forms of therapy.
Despite its many health benefits, herbal tea is used by most people simply for its pleasing taste. Herbal tea is a refreshing, soothing drink that tastes great and offers a healthy alternative to caffeinated drinks like coffee and tea.
As a caffeine-free drink, herbal tea can be consumed at any time of the day or night. It does not keep us awake the way that caffeine can, and some herbal tea is specifically formulated as a bedtime beverage that promotes sleep.
Many people like to grow or gather their own herbs for making herbal tea. This can be an economical alternative to buying herbal tea, but care must be used in selecting the proper plants. Some herbs are hard to identify, and it is possible to mistake poisonous plants for beneficial herbs.