Separating Fact From Fiction: The Benefits Of Herbal Tea



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Benefits of Herbal Tea

Herbal tea can be made from any variety of dried leaves, seeds, roots or fruit and as such, the benefits are many types of antioxidants in a tea that contains the phytonutrients and chemical compounds inherent to the original plants. Herbal tea is different than black tea, green tea, white tea and oolong tea, which are all from the Camellia sinensis plant, and only vary by how the tea is processed after harvest. Pu-erh tea is the most fermented of these teas.

Herbal teas are often touted to burn fat or lower cholesterol and there are even herbal teas for anxiety relief. However, just because a company says their tea will do something marvelous, doesn’t mean it actually will. It’s important to purchase teas from reputable sources and to check with databases such as the National Institute of Health to review any safety concerns with herbal tea blends. An example is this scientific review on chamomile tea, which is one of the most ancient medicinal herbs known to mankind. According to the review, there are cardiovascular benefits to chamomile tea made, but it may need to be avoided by those allergic to ragweed.

Other herbals teas that show promise for medicinal purposes include:

  • Rooibos tea (fermented African Shrub tea)
  • Rooibos tea is high in quercetin, an antioxidant known for its anti-inflammatory benefits, which also shows promise in helping protect against cancer and viruses. It also contains aspalathin, a rare antioxidant that may play a role in stress reduction

  • Milk thistle tea
  • Some research indicates this herb may help with liver problems and may lower cholesterol levels

  • Peppermint tea
  • Peppermint tea may reduce bloating, gas, and cramps related to Irritable Bowel Syndrome by reducing spasms in the digestive tract

  • Ginger tea
  • Ginger tea may reduce nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and morning sickness. Research also indicates it may decrease inflammation in arthritis, and reduce menstrual cramping

Pros and Cons To Consider Before Buying Your Tea

Whether you are enjoying herbal tea for pleasure, or seeking a medicinal purpose, it is important to remember that herbal teas often have pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Herbal teas, just like the plants they come from, can teem with flavonoids and other healthy compounds.
  • Herbal tea is typically caffeine free.
  • You can mix tea leaves to create tasty tea infusions and enjoy various medicinal properties.

Cons:

  • Herbs can be powerful medicine and as such herbal teas should be respected and reviewed prior to consumption.
  • Just because a product is natural does not mean it is safe.
  • Some popular teas have been known to cause liver damage such as comfrey tea, which is no longer sold in the US.
  • When it comes to using herbal tea during pregnancy, you should consult with your physician before trying any self-treatment.

How To Brew a Perfect Cup of Tea With a Bonus Lemon Basil Tea Recipe!

Tea is the product of steeping these dried plant components in hot water, resulting in a flavorful brew. According to Teavana.com, for the perfect cup of herbal tea, measure out 1½ to 2 teaspoons into an infuser and steep in 8 oz. hot water that is about 208°F for 5-6 minutes, adding more or less tea, to taste. To make iced herbal tea, simply brew the tea stronger than usual, cool it and pour over ice.

Now that you know a little more about herbal teas, try your hand at mixing tealeaves together to create some new flavorful blends. And remember, the benefits of adding some lemon or honey to your tea blend goes beyond their delicious flavor; they too have health benefits including vitamins and antimicrobial properties.

Lemon Basil Herbal Tea Recipe

Basil is considered a mood booster

  • 1-2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup boiling water

Place basil in an infuser and place in very hot water for about 10 minutes. Remove infuser and add fresh lemon juice. Enjoy!

Jennifer M. Wood, MS, RD

Jennifer M Wood, MS, RDN is registered dietitian nutritionist and successful food and nutrition consultant in Southeastern Minnesota. As the founder of a nation-wide gourmet food company, Wood wrote Jenny’s Country Kitchen…recipes for making homemade a little easier! (2003), which is a timeless collection of make-ahead, freeze-ahead and pantry-stocking recipes and time saving tips to help busy families put nutritious food on table. Wood graduated with a pre-med bachelors degree in nutritional science in 2001, completed her dietetic internship in 2007 and went on to complete a master’s degree in food and nutrition in 2011.

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