Herbal teas supply health-supportive plant compounds, including antioxidant polyphenols, in hot or iced beverage form.** Featuring diverse varieties and valued across cultures globally, herbal teas may:
What is Herbal Tea?
Tea is the most popular flavored beverage throughout the world, even beating out coffee in its ubiquity. Typically made by steeping selected leaves or other botanical ingredients in water, tea was discovered in ancient China and initially valued for various wellness benefits, along with spiritual associations. As the centuries passed, the herbal drink became more widespread and casually used, eventually moving beyond China to Japan and further abroad. By the late 1700s, tea had a major presence in England, and famously played a role in the American Revolution during the Boston Tea Party of 1773.
The most common forms of tea are black tea and green tea. These two kinds are derived from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, along with oolong and white varieties. Although all of these teas have the same source, their color and nutrient content vary widely based on how they are processed. Other kinds of teas may be made without Camellia sinensis leaves. Many of these varieties lack the stimulating caffeine of traditional leaves and are often made from fruit or other herbs.
In recent decades, researchers have confirmed what Buddhist monks and other tea aficionados have known for ages—that these botanically infused beverages appear to be associated with considerable health benefits. Though wellness-supportive properties differ from variety to variety, most teas, whether consumed hot or cold, feature natural flavonoids that have oxidative-stress fighting antioxidants.**
The teas made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant include:
- Black tea: This notably dark tea undergoes a fermenting process to reach its signature hue and full flavor. Studies have shown that the tea has free-radical-battling antioxidants, including compounds known as theaflavins, and may encourage cardiovascular, bone and digestive wellness.** Due to its natural caffeine content, it can also help to uphold mental alertness.** Nearly 85% of all tea consumed in America is some form of black tea.**
- Green tea: Increasingly well known in recent years, this light tea is unfermented and only minimally processed. It contains various catechins such as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a compound that has been investigated for its potent antioxidant activity.** Research has indicated that additional green tea benefits include supporting cardiovascular, immune and metabolic health, as well as sharp cognition.**
- Oolong tea: One of China's most celebrated teas, oolong is made utilizing a partial fermentation process. The tea features an abundance of antioxidantrich polyphenols and is associated with optimizing metabolic function.** There are numerous varieties of oolong tea, with certain kinds tied to specific Chinese regions.
- White tea: Even lighter than green tea, white tea is less processed than any of its related varieties. Also similar to its green cousin, this pale tea features catechins that have antioxidant and antimicrobial activity, which aids overall circulatory wellness.**
- Matcha tea: A kind of green tea presented in finely powdered form, matcha is renowned in Japan, where it is incorporated into tea ceremony traditions. While matcha shares many health benefits with green tea, because it is directly mixed into water rather than steeped, it conveys a deeper verdant color and more nutrients, particularly amino acids.** Matcha is also known for giving green tea ice cream its rich flavor.
- Kombucha tea: This style of tea, only recently found in the West, mixes Camellia sinensis leaves, typically black or green, with microbial cultures to create a fermented beverage that contains enzymes and probiotics. Increasingly investigated, kombucha has been linked to upholding healthy metabolism and immune function, among other wellness benefits.**
- Puerh tea: Another fermented variety of black tea, puerh tea hails from China's Yunnan province and is traditionally sold in pressed brick or cake form. The earthy tea carries antioxidant properties, and studies have associated it with assisting healthy weight management.**
Many teas, particularly varieties with flowers or fruit as main ingredients, are not derived from the Camellia sinensis plants. These kinds often lack significant caffeine content but still evince certain wellness-promoting qualities, often focusing on a specific health issue. These varieties of herbal teas include:
- Red tea: Often mistaken as a relative of the other "color" teas—black, green and white—red tea, also known as rooibos, originates from Africa and is made from the leaves of the Aspalathus linearis bush. Typically served with milk and sweetener, red tea doesn't feature caffeine and is plentiful in natural plant phenols that have antioxidant activity.**
- Cleansing tea: This variety of tea helps to cleanse unwanted substances from the body with a blend of traditionally used herbs such as burdock root, red clover and dandelion.**
- Relaxing tea: These blends feature botanicals that support calmness, serenity and sleep, including chamomile, lavender and rose hips.**
- Respiratory teas: This kind of tea helps to promote clear and relaxed airways via herbs commonly tied to easy breathing such as peppermint, ginger and licorice root.**
Herbal Tea Products
Herbal teas are produced from Camellia sinensis plant leaves and/or other botanical sources. The specific method of processing the tea determines what variety it will be. These teas are commonly offered in tea bags or as loose leaves. Some kinds are available as a liquid or powder (notably matcha). Certain teas naturally carry caffeine content, but others do not or are decaffeinated. Green tea is additionally found in capsule form.
Herbal Tea Directions for Use
Consult with your health care professional prior to routinely consuming tea for a specific health concern. There is no standard recommended amount for herbalteas; green tea extract capsules may be offered in the range of 300 and 600 mg.