What is Herbal Tea?
It's not really 'tea' at all, because tea is a specific type of plant. It refers to an infusion of leaves, seeds, roots or bark immersed in hot water. They should not be confused with 'fruit teas' (orange tea, lemon tea etc.), which are flavored largely to make them taste good. Only certain parts of many of the herbs used to make these drinks can be consumed, as others might be poisonous, but drinking a generously stacked portion of herbal tea can provide as much goodness as a vitamin pill, in a way that is easy and enjoyable to digest.
Selecting and Preparing Your Herbal Tea
When selecting an herbal tea, it is important to look for a well-sourced product made from natural ingredients. This is one sector where organic is usually very much best, and if you want to gain the most health benefits, avoid teas with added oils and artificial flavors. You should also leave your teabag to infuse for a decent amount of time - at least 10-15 minutes when preparing your drink. Here are ten of the healthiest herbal teas you can drink.
Main Benefits: Fights sleep problems & anxiety
Chamomile is a small flowering plant that looks similar to a daisy, and it's golden buds have been found to help people who struggle to sleep well or suffer from mild insomnia. This is because it contains tryptophan, an amino-acid known for its tranquilizing qualities. Studies have shown that it also possesses anti-anxiety properties that can help anyone prone to bouts of anxiety to relax. Chamomile has been used as a medicinal herb for centuries, and was favored by ancient Egyptians. It is an effective, gentle and natural sedative with anti-stress properties.
Main Benefits: Decongestant, allergy relief and treating the common cold
Elderflower is a white flower of the Elder plant, which belongs to the Adoxaceae family and is found in subtropical areas of the world. Only its ripe berries are edible (when cooked) and other parts of the plant are poisonous. The berries have been used throughout history as a treatment for the common cold, blocked sinuses, respiratory health and allergy relief. So if you want to breathe more easily, try Elderflower Tea.
Main Benefits: Treatment for nausea, vomiting and Irritable Bowel Sydrome
Peppermint is a hybrid cross between watermint and spearmint, and is indigenous to areas of Europe and the Middle East, although it has now been introduced to most areas of the world. It is a popular flavoring in confectionery, ice-cream and toothpaste, and is also used in soaps, shampoos and washes. It is also understood to encourage bile production in the gall bladder, helping the body break down fat and combat symptoms of nausea. It also provides short term relief for people who suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
4. Lemon Verbena
Main Benefits: Aids digestion & Boosts the Immune System
Lemon verbena or Aloysia citrodora is a native South American plant brought to Europe in the 17th Century and cultivated for its oil. It is traditionally used in France as a digestive aid because the citrus helps to break down fats as they pass through the digestive tract. It can be drunk before and after meals to serve its purpose. Studies have also shown that it can reduce oxidative stress and strengthen white blood cell production, encouraging a better functioning immune system.
5. Green Tea
Main Benefits: Strengthens tissue cells
Pages could be written about the many health benefits of green tea, and no list of healthy herbal teas would be complete without it. It strengthens tissue cells to help protect the body from aging (and age-related diseases) and is high in antioxidants, which prevent cell damage caused by pollutants. Green tea can help fight cancer, heart disease and diabetes and has a number of other benefits too. You can find out more here. The Japanese drink gallons of it, and they have the highest life expectancy of any nationality.
Main Benefits: Treatment for constipation, colic and flatulence. Also aids weight loss.
Fennel is a flowering plant native to the Mediterranean and has many ancient culinary and medicinal uses. It has anti-spasmodic properties that help relax intestinal muscles and provide an effective solution for constipation, colic and flatulence. Fennel tea is also an excellent diuretic that encourages the urge to urinate, helping expel toxins from the body. The herb also helps suppress hunger and speeds up metabolism, making it an excellent weight loss tool.
Main Benefits: Boosts a run-down body
Nettle is a British herb that forms the basis of an excellent, all-round healthy tea. It is made from the plant of the stinging nettle, a plant that causes pain if touched in the wild, and has been used in medicine for many thousands of years. It has been shown to have a range of health benefits, including the treatment of urinary tract infections, hay fever and osteoarthritis. It boosts the immune system and supports the adrenal gland, just two of the properties that make it an excellent tea to drink when you are feeling run down.
8. Milk Thistle or Dandelion Tea
Main Benefit: Cleanses the liver
Both milk thistle and dandelion tea are classed as weeds in the wild, but when used in tea they are one of the best natural ways we can regenerate, cleanse and purify the liver. Although both are beneficial, they work in different ways. Dandelion is known to act as a liver tonic and stimulates bile secretion, while milk thistle has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help improve symptoms of hepatitis and liver disease.
Main Benefits: Cleansing, circulation, digestion & pain relief
Ginger is another plant with plentiful health benefits and has been used for centuries to ease stomach upsets and relieve pain. Ginger tea can be bought from the store, or made using a fresh piece of ginger placed in water and simmered on the stove for 10-15 minutes. It is known for its warming properties, so it is a great option if you have a fever. It also promotes blood circulation and relieves joint pain, making it a great healer.
10. Rosehip Tea
Main Benefits: Protects the skin, boosts adrenal function and promotes immunity
Roses are among the best loved flowers in the world, but they are not just useful for their beautiful scent and aesthetics. Their fruit - the rosehip - also provides a host of goodness that make for a great fragrant and healthy tea. Rosehip is one of the best sources of vitamin C in the natural world, important for healthy skin, a successful immune system and tissue health. Rosehip also boosts adrenal function, providing plenty of extra energy and alertness. It's worth reaching for next time you feel run down.