People are often confused and surprised when they hear that herbal tea is not related to tea in any way. Given the fact that they have the same name, it is natural to assume that all “tea” is made from tea. And while most tea is made from the dried leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant, herbal tea is not.
In fact, a true herbal "tea" is missing the most important ingredient: tea!
True herbal tea has nothing at all to do with tea, and here’s why: these delightfully delicious drinks are made from herbs. That's it, just herbs. The reason they received the label “tea” is because, for most herbal teas, the process of making the drink is the same as making tea. Herbal teas are made from the dried leaves, stems, flowers, and seeds of herbs, rather than leaves from the tea bush, Camellia Sinensis. To make a herbal tea, just like brewing a cup of tea, you start with a mixture of dried herbs in a pouch or bag, add hot water, and let it steep.
There are a great variety of herbs that are used to make herbal teas, and much like tea, herbs’ history as a drink developed from belief in the medicinal properties that herbs possess. Being the first type of medicine available to mankind, herbs were originally used to make ointments, skin and hair treatments, tinctures (strong, very concentrated herbal remedies that would be taken as drops placed under the tongue), and compresses for open wounds or burns. Drinking a tea made from herbs was just another method of using and accessing the natural health benefits: many people drank herbal teas after a meal to aid with digestion, or soothe upset stomachs. Today herbs have been proven to be a healthy and tasty addition to meals and drinks, and many offer positive health benefits, which is why herbal teas are so popular.
The most common and well known herbs used for teas today are chamomile and mint, but the possibilities are endless and often unexplored, especially if you only shop from a grocery store. There are hundreds of scrumptious herbs that can be used to make tea, and thousands of different combinations that can be made from them. Whether you grow your own, or purchase from an online tea company like ours, herbal teas should not remain un-sampled.
Try making your own herbal blends by mixing different types of herbs together. Or just try individual herbs, most herbs make a good tea on their own. You can even make herbal tea a “real tea” by blending herbs with black or green tea for a different flavour experience. For more information on blending teas see our Tea Blending section.
To brew the perfect cup of herbal tea, start with dried (or fresh) herbs. Use approximately 1 teaspoon of dried herbs, or 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs, per cup of water. If you’re making an entire pot, throw in 1 to 2 extra spoonfuls. Choose only ceramic or glass teapots and glasses, as metal can alter the taste of the tea. Before you put the herbs in your cup/pot warm it up with some hot water. Once the water has boiled remove the warm water from your tea pot, place the herbs in the pot and crush them a little (with a spoon) to release the flavours. Poor the boiled water over the herbs and allow them to steep for about 5 minutes. More time may be necessary depending on how strong you like your tea. Remove the herbs from the pot/glass once your herbal tea has reached the desired strength, and sit back and enjoy.