Herbal Tea: Composition and Health Benefits
Herbal tea is a beverage made from boiling of herbs. It is different from regular tea or green tea made from tea leaves. It is prepared in the same manner as a tea by combining hot water with herbal leaves, roots, fruits or grains. History of herbal tea dates back to ancient Egypt and ancient China. In China herbal tea is known with the name of ‘liang cha’. The English word for herbal tea ‘tisane’ has its origin in Greece word ptisane, a drink made with pearl barley.
Unlike normal tea, herbal tea does not contain caffeine. Herbal tea can be made of one herbal ingredient or a combination of ingredients. Herbal teas are consumed for a purpose. They are meant for rejuvenation, relaxation, and other health benefits. Special herbal teas for diabetes and other diseases are also available.
Herbal is generally made out of dried flowers, seeds, leaves or roots. In the normal procedure, boiling water is poured over the required parts and allowed to steep for some time. The mixture is strained and served. Sweetener like honey can be added if required. Nowadays herbal tea bags are becoming a popular way of selling herbal tea.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF HERBAL TEA:
Each herbal tea is designed for a specific medical or therapeutic benefit. General benefits achieved by consuming herbal tea are:
- Relaxation of mind
- Supports the health of the heart
- Help in digestion
- Cleansing properties of the body
- Promote overall health and wellness
- Nourishes the nervous system
- Immunity is built
- Relieves stress
- Immunity against colds
- Stimulates the internal organs
- Induces proper sleep during the night
China is known for herbal tea consumption since ages. The traditional Chinese Medicine approach is being used in the preparation of herbal tea. They are very popular with all sects of people in the society for their health enhancing and therapeutic properties. Chinese consume herbal tea to overcome heat in the body caused due to sickness or weather.
In Sri Lanka herbal tea has been associated with the local traditional medicine. Some of the ingredients used to make herbal tea in Sri Lanka are: Iramasu (Smilax regelii), Ranawara (Senna auriculata), Polpala (Aerva Lanata), Beli (Bael) and Kothala-himbutu (Salacia reticulate). There are several plant species used for treating many ailments. For example, a herbal tea made with five ingredients like Pathpadagam (Mollugo cerviana), koththamalli (Coriander seeds), Inguru (Ginger), Thippili (long pepper) and Katuwelbatu (Solanum virginianum) is served to treat cold and fever. In Egypt, ‘karkade’ is the herbal tea that is very popular and it is served in tea houses which are like coffee shops.
In India herbal tea made from Ayurvedic herbs like Tulasi, Yeshtimadhu and Agya Ghas are very popular. In Indian households it is very common to have herbal tea made out of dry ginger, pepper and coriander seeds for relief from cold. In recent times several pharmacy companies have come up with various herbal teas that contain different ingredients for different purposes. Usually Ayurvedic teas contain minerals like potassium, calcium, iron, manganese, selenium and zinc.
Common ingredients used for the preparation in herbal tea are:
- Anise seed: helps in digestion.
- Chamomile: calms the mind, and is anti inflammatory.
- Cinnamon: improves circulation and digestion
- Chrysanthemum: reduces heat produced in the body because of fever. Protects against damage of liver and reduces toxins.
- Ginseng: stimulates the body
- Ginger root: improves blood circulation, acts positively on digestion, nausea, lung congestion and arthritis.
- Hawthorne: increases blood flow and strengthens the heart.
- Lemon Grass: soothes the nervous system
- Peppermint: helps in digestion and works like a mouth freshener
- Red Clover: used for many ailments like asthma, bronchitis, menopausal symptoms, psoriasis and eczema.
- Rose hips: it has natural vitamin C and bioflavonoids. Remedy for cold, cough and fatigue.
- Sarsaparilla: energy promoter and improves the skin condition.
An improper brewing of herbal tea can make the brewed tea liquor difficult to consume. Fresh water should be used for making herbal tea. Let the water boil. Switch off the stove and add one teaspoon of herbs for every cup of water. Allow to brew for about two minutes. Strain and serve and sweeten if required.
Consumption of herbal tea has increased in recent times because of awareness about the health benefits. Lot of research is being done on the benefits of herbal tea.