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Some Common Ingredients in Herbal Tea Blends (Herbal Tisanes)

jas-herbals.jpgGeneral Information

Herbal teas (aka, herbal tisanes) have been around a long time. They are not the same as true teas, which are made from the plant species Camellia sinensis. In fact, they are often made from quite a range of plants that have been part of folk medicines around the world for centuries. Technically, they are either infusions (plant material steeped in hot water) or decoctions (plant matter simmered in water that has been brought to a boil).

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DISCLAIMER – This page does not cover all ingredients used in various herbal tea blends (also called herbal tisanes, pronounced tiz-AHNz). This information is presented for informational purposes only. Please consult with your doctor before using these herbal teas for medicinal purposes and avoid aluminum pots that can react with some of the ingredients in a harmful manner. Avoid drinking any of these in excess.

Basil

See “Holy Basil (Tulsi).

Blackcurrant

Parts used: Berries, leaves

Flavor/aroma: Pungent, fruity (like fresh berries)

Caffeine: No

Health claims: Packed with vitamins; stimulates digestion; improves liver, kidneys, spleen, pancreas functions

Cardamom

Parts used: Pods (actually the little black seed in them, although the pod husk is often included but is not edible)

Flavor/aroma: Pungent, mildly sweet

Caffeine: No

Health claims: Digestive aid (eases stomach cramps, reduces gas), freshens breath, warms the body, reduces caffeine effects; high in antioxidants

Cassis/Cassia

Parts used: Bark

Flavor/aroma: Spicy, pungent, goes well with sweet and savory items

Caffeine: No

Health claims: Treatment aid for Type II diabetes

Chamomile

Parts used: Flowers

Flavor/aroma: Sweet (can turn bitter if oversteeped)

Caffeine: No

Health claims: Increase antibacterial activity, relieve muscle spasms, mild sedative; check with your allergist before using since some people with severe hayfever have been known to react to chamomile, too.

More info:

  • native to western Europe, India, and western Asia
  • grows freely in U.S. in pastures, cornfields, roadsides, and other sunny, well-drained areas
  • 2 species: Roman chamomile and German chamomile
  • combines well with mints

Chrysanthemum

Parts used: Flowers

Flavor/aroma: Sweet

Caffeine: No

Health claims: Cools the body, neutralizes toxins, other health purposes related to the liver, skin, heart, and sinuses

Cinnamon

Parts used: Bark of a particular evergreen tree (a high-quality cinnamon quill (stick) is pale tan and comprised of many thin, delicate layers.)

Flavor/aroma: Warm, sweet, aromatic

Caffeine: No

Health claims: Aid in colds, digestive problems, cold hands/feet (due to poor circulation), toothaches; high antimicrobial and antioxidant properties

Cranberry

Parts used: Fruits (berries)

Flavor/aroma: Tart

Caffeine: No

Health claims: Very high in vitamin C; used for urinary tract infections, weight loss (little scientific evidence to support either claim)

Fennel

Parts used: Seeds

Flavor/aroma: Mild

Caffeine: No

Health claims: Appetite stimulation, upper-respiratory infections, sore throats, gas, abdominal pain (when steeped in milk). (Do not use if you are allergic to celery. Do not give large doses to children.)

Ginger

Parts used: Root

Flavor/aroma: Has a bit of a “kick”

Caffeine: No

Health claims: Useful for colds, flu, sore throats, nausea; fights fever-related illnesses

Ginseng

Parts used: Root

Flavor/aroma: Bitter

Caffeine: No

Health claims: Rejuvenation, overall stimulation; excess can cause insomnia, heart trouble

Hibiscus (aka Bissap or Roselle)

Parts used: Flowers

Flavor/aroma: Refreshingly crisp, sweet flavor

Caffeine: No

Health claims: Control high blood pressure, reduce high cholesterol levels, soothe cramps, laxative qualities

More info:

  • popular in the Sahel region and other parts of Africa, the Carribbean, Thailand, Okinawa, and parts of Arabic nations
  • often blended with rosehips (a seed-filled bulb that forms after the blossom is spent)

Holy Basil (Tulsi)

Parts used: Leaves, blossoms

Flavor/aroma: Tasty

Caffeine: No

Health claims: Aid poor digestion, bloating, gas, uncomfortable stomach cramps, upset stomachs; anti-bacterial, high in flavonoids, anti-inflammatory, beneficial to cardiovascular health (do not steep in aluminum pot)

Honeybush

Parts used: Leaves

Flavor/aroma: Sweet, smooth

Caffeine: No

Health claims: High in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants; good for digestion, coughs, blood sugar regulation, more

Lavender

Parts used: Flowers

Flavor/aroma: Sweet, soothing, highly aromatic

Caffeine: No

Health claims: Calming; helps relieve headaches, tension, insomnia, stress

Lemon

Parts used: Zest, rind (peel)

Flavor/aroma: Pungent, refreshingly astringent; revitalizing aroma

Caffeine: No

Health claims: Good for digestive problems, coughs; shown to reduce severe sunburns and a type of skin cancer

Lemongrass

Parts used: Leaves

Flavor/aroma: Smooth mouthfeel, light lemony flavor and aroma

Caffeine: No

Health claims: Helps anxiety, colds, digestive problems; good source of vitamin A

Orange

Parts used: Rind (peel)

Flavor/aroma: Delicious

Caffeine: No

Health claims: Digestive aid, scent invigorates

Peppermint

Parts used: Leaves

Flavor/aroma: Very minty (more than spearmint)

Caffeine: No

Health claims: Contains menthol (said to ease upset stomachs, prevent colds, calm, freshen breath)

Rooibos (Red Bush, Aspalathus linearis)

Parts used: Leaves

Flavor/aroma: Pleasantly sweet, woody, slightly nutty

Caffeine: No

Health claims: High in anti-aging antioxidants; contains Vitamin C plus minerals

More info:

  • grown only in the South African highlands (the Cederburg area)
  • related to honeybush
  • available mostly oxidized, sometimes left unoxidized (“green rooibos”)
  • oxidized (“red rooibos”) version steeps up a distinctive red color
  • low tannin content (half of ordinary tea)

Rose

Parts used: Petals, small buds

Flavor/aroma: Fragrant, mildly sweet, floral

Caffeine: No

Health claims: Soothing; useful for colds, flu, fevers and rashes

Spearmint

Parts used: Leaves

Flavor/aroma: Pleasant, lighter in mintiness than peppermint

Caffeine: No

Health claims: Digestive aid, may decrease androgen hormones that cause excess hair in women with hirsutism