What is Herbal or fruit Tea?

Tumeric Root

Many beverages which are called “tea” are actually not tea. Herbal teas, less commonly know as herb teas, Tisanes (tih-ZANN) or infusions are not officially teas.

They do not derive from the Camellia Sinensis plant, but instead from an infusion or blend of leaves, fruits, bark, roots or flowers of almost any edible, non-tea plant. They also, generally, do not usually contain caffeine.

Most of the time herbal teas are sought and appreciated for their medicinal benefits, which differ from variety to variety, depending on herbs used to make the tea.

How did Herbal Tea Originate?

Herbal teas have been around as long as time, with our ancient ancestors making infusions from the plants, roots, and herbs they saw around them and consuming them for medicinal reasons.

Documentation on herbal teas goes back as far as ancient Egypt and China. The earliest Chinese Pharmacopeia records attribute the Chinese emperor “Shennong” (around 3000BC) for making use of herbal teas. In the 1st century AD, the Greek physician and pharmacologist Dioscorides describes 600 medicinal plants, which may be used for preparation of infusions in his book “De materia medica”.

The first recorded mention of Chamomile being enjoyed in Egypt is found in a document known as the Ebers Papyrus, and dates back to 1550 BC. Used to honor the gods, embalm the dead and cure the sick, chamomile has endured a lasting fame.

One of the most popular herbal teas in Egypt is the hibiscus tea, also known as “karkade”.

Peppermint has been used as a caffeine-free home remedy aiding digestion and soothing the stomach for millennia, dating back to the greeks. During these times, tables were rubbed with peppermint to make dining more pleasant.

In China tisanes are also extremely popular. The traditional medicine uses the tisanes as natural cure for many diseases. The beverage is also used for enhancing health. The Chinese term “liang cha” means actually “cooling tea”, a very inspired term because it is believed this beverage cools down the body when it is overheated by sickness or weather change.

The French word Tisane, has its origins from the Greek word “ptisane” which literally would translate to “Crushed Barley”. The Chinese call it “ Liang Cha”, which translates as “cooling tea”

However, not all herbal teas of that time were so pleasant. Some were, in fact, deadly. Philosophers will kindly remind us that Socrates, the father of modern thought, was sentenced to death by drinking a brew known as Hemlock. Hemlock remains unavailable in many cafes, due to its unfortunate side effects

MORNING TEA. PRINT BY RICHARD HOUSTON, 1750The Dutch first brought tea to Europe in 1610, it arrived in England in 1658, and then it rose in popularity in England’s American colonies throughout the 1700s. Demand for tea experienced huge leaps in the 1700s as England expanded sugar imports from its Caribbean colonies. By 1800, the English were annually consuming 2½ pounds of tea and 17 pounds of sugar per capita. Some claim it was the increasing trend of adding sugar to tea that spiked the demand for strong black tea over the more delicate green tea imports.

The next leap in black tea production came in the 1800s when the Camellia sinensis assamica tea plant variety was discovered in 1823 in the Assam region of India. This native variety was much better suited to the production of the hearty, bold black teas that were in high demand. Not long after, in 1835, the English started planting tea gardens in India’s Darjeeling region, near Nepal. Since India was a British colony, these different varieties of black teas quickly became popular exports to England 

Herbal Tea Flavors

Hibiscus Flower

The most common herbal teas are Chamomile, hibiscus, peppermint, rooibos and yerba mate (contains caffeine)

Chamomile: Light, sweet, apple-like and floral beverage that has a calming effect.

Hibiscus: The most common ingredient in fruit teas, a crimson flower that yields a deep red color to the cup and a powerful tart sweetness. Hibiscus is naturally high in Vitamin C.

Peppermint: has been used as a caffeine-free home remedy aiding digestion and soothing the stomach for millennia, dating back to the greeks

Rooibos: Also known as “Red Bush Tea” or simply “Red Tea,” rooibos was introduced as a substitute for black tea. During World War II, virtually all supplies of Japanese and Chinese teas to the United States suddenly became unavailable. The tea-addicted Western culture scoured the world for an alternative, finally discovering caffeine-free rooibos, which grows only in South Africa. Rooibos has a rich, slightly sweet flavor that is excellent alone and blends extremely well with a variety of flavors.

Yerba Mate: the newest drink to the herbal market is called Yerba Mate. This South American botanical from the holly family is consumed throughout much of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and the Far East. Yerba Mate, or simply “Mate”, has been lauded as a cultural phenomenon that both energizes and remedies the body. Mate is one of the few plants on earth (along with coffee, cocoa and tea) that contain caffeine. While the herby taste tends to be a bit unusual to newcomers (as well as drinking it from the traditional, hollowed-out gourd), after a few sips, most folks embrace it like it one of their own. Originally stranded in the obscurity of the niche cultural market, mate has now been introduced to the US as a substitute for coffee and is attracting wider attention.


Herbal teas are caffeine free; however, some herbs, such as Yerba Mate contain caffeine.

Brewing / Preparing green tea

Herbal teas can be made from fresh or dried flowers, leaves, seed or roots. Heat your water to 100C then pour it over the tea and steep for 5-7 minutes.

Health Benefits

The benefits of Herbal teas are as numerous as there are herbs. The health benefit of the tea is dependent on the plant, root, or herb being used.

Chamomile tea is known for its calming effect;

Hibiscus tea is known to keep blood pressure balanced;

Rooibos tea is known for its antioxidants.

Ginger tea helps to prevent nausea and vomiting associated with motion sickness

Ginseng tea is said to reduce the risk of developing cancer, provide relief from menstrual problems, reduce obesity and improve the immune system amongst other things

Turmeric tea – the spice has been used for its medicinal, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties for thousands of years. The tea is a great way to ease arthritis symptoms, prevent Alzheimer’s disease, prevent cancer, maintain ulcerative colitis remission, lower cholesterol and much more

Cinnamon tea can help control levels of bad cholesterol in the blood and regulate blood sugar. Consuming cinnamon on a regular basis improves digestion and eliminates gas

Holy basil or Tulsi tea helps to cure fever, reduce stress, is beneficial in treating asthma and helps with premature again amongst a whole host of other benefits








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