When people come into my herb shop we always offer a free sample of our “tea on tap” that day. Some people love it and others say “Oh, I don’t like tea”. To them I reply, “Neither do I”. Then I start to explain the differences between regular tea (made from the leaves of the Camillia plant) and herbal tea (made from one, or a mixture of hundreds of herbal plants. Technically if you are drinking an herbal tea it is actually called a Tisane.
Some herbal teas are medicinal, and some are just great tasting, and some are both.
When you are making medicinal herbal tea, it is best to use a ratio of 1 tablespoon of herbs to 1 cup of water. Boil the water then pour over loose herbs, or you can wrangle them into a reusable tea bag or put them in the many fun shaped tea infusers or tea balls available today.
With a medicinal tea, we want that hot water to break up the cell walls of the plant material so the medicinal constituents can leach into the water. This also releases that plants essential oils into the hot water which are volatile and will dissipate into the air unless you have some kind of cover over your cup catching the steam and dripping it back in your cup. You will want to let this steep for 10-20 minutes or longer. The longer it steeps, the stronger the medicine is, but it may taste more and more bitter.
Also, when you are making a tea out of any of the hard parts of the plants (roots, seeds, or bark) you want to actually boil the herbs for 10-20 minutes, instead of just steeping the herbs
Chances are if you are taking a medicinal tea, it may not have great tasting herbs in it, so you can always add good tasting herbs into it. The following herbs are great to add to a medicinal tea, or will be great on their own or in combination with one another. I have also added the medicinal quality of the good tasting herb if there is anything to be concerned about
Mint, Peppermint, Spearmint, Applemint, Chocolate mint ~Digestion
Lemon Balm~Happiness Lemon Verbena
Anise Hyssop (2019 Herb of the Year)
Ginger~ Warming, helps with nausea
Hibiscus~ Vitamin C
Cinnamon~ lowers blood sugar
Chamomile~ Relaxing, digestion
Stevia~ Adds sweetness to any tea. (a little goes a long way)
When making an herbal tea, I suggest making your own blends or at least getting loose tea from an herb shop. The tea in the grocery stores that comes in a bag already may taste good, but may lack the medicinal herbal constituents for a few reasons. When a dried plant is stored whole and in the dark, it can keep its medicine for at least a year, when that plant is ground up into tiny pieces it exposes more surface area to the air and soon after it will lose a lot of its medicine as it degrades. You are not really sure when it was harvested or how it was stored. Also, in some of the blends out there they try to cram a lot of herbal ingredients into a very small portion, so how much of those medicinal herbs are you actually getting?
You can also use fresh herbs right out of the garden, just use twice as much as you would for the dried herbs.
So whether you need an herbal tea to help with some malady of the body, or you just want to enjoy some of the many wonderful flavors that mother nature has provided us, I urge you to try herbal tea for yourself!