Herbal tea

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Steeping "Hibiscus Delight", made from hibiscus flowers, rose hips, orange peel, green tea, and red raspberry leaf Hibiscus Delight tisane.jpg
Steeping "Hibiscus Delight", made from hibiscus flowers, rose hips, orange peel, green tea, and red raspberry leaf

Herbal teas, also known as herbal infusions and less commonly [2] called tisanes (UK and US /tɪˈzæn/ , US also /tɪˈzɑːn/ ), [3] are beverages made from the infusion or decoction of herbs, spices, or other plant material in hot water; they do not usually contain any true tea (Camellia sinensis). Often herb tea, or the plain term tea, is used as a reference to all sorts of herbal teas. Many herbs used in teas/tisanes are also used in herbal medicine. Some herbal blends contain true tea (e.g., the Indian classic masala chai).


The term "herbal" tea is often used to distinguish these beverages from true teas (e.g., black, green, white, yellow, oolong), which are prepared from the cured leaves of the tea plant, Camellia sinensis . Unlike true teas, most tisanes do not naturally contain caffeine (though tea can be decaffeinated, processed to remove caffeine). [4] [5] A number of plants, however, do contain caffeine or another stimulant, like theobromine, cocaine or ephedrine. Some have the opposite effect, acting as a sedative. Some common infusions have specific names such as mate (yerba mate) and rooibos (red bush).Hibiscus tea is one type of herbal infusion, but many described as some other plant have hibiscus as the main ingredient, or a major one. [6]


Herbal tea in a glass teapot and cup LE POINT DE VUE11n4000.jpg
Herbal tea in a glass teapot and cup

Some feel[ clarification needed ] that the term tisane is more correct than herbal tea or that the latter is even misleading, but most dictionaries record that the word tea is also used to refer to other plants beside the tea plant and to beverages made from these other plants. [7] [8] In any case, the term herbal tea is very well established and much more common than tisane. [2]

The word tisane was rare in its modern sense before the 20th century, when it was borrowed in the modern sense from French. (This is why some people feel it should be pronounced /tɪˈzɑːn/ as in French, but the original English pronunciation /tɪˈzæn/ continues to be more common in US English and especially in UK English.) [3]

The word had already existed in late Middle English in the sense of "medicinal drink" and had already been borrowed from French (Old French). The Old French word came from the Latin word ptisana, which came from the Ancient Greek word πτισάνη (ptisánē), which meant "peeled" barley, in other words pearl barley, and a drink made from this that is similar to modern barley water. [9]


Herbal teas can be made with fresh or dried flowers, fruit, leaves, seeds or roots. They are made by pouring boiling water over the plant parts and letting them steep for a few minutes. The herbal tea is then strained, sweetened if desired, and served. Many companies produce herbal tea bags for such infusions.


While varieties of tisanes can be made from any edible plant material, below is a list of those commonly used for such:

Health risks

While most herbal teas are safe for regular consumption, some herbs have toxic or allergenic effects. Among the greatest causes of concern are:

Herbal teas can also have different effects from person to person, and this is further compounded by the problem of potential misidentification. The deadly foxglove, for example, can be mistaken for the much more benign (but still relatively toxic to the liver) comfrey. Care must be taken not to use any poisonous plants.

The US does not require herbal teas to have any evidence concerning their efficacy, but does treat them technically as food products and require that they be safe for consumption.

Fruit or fruit-flavored tea is usually acidic and thus may contribute to erosion of tooth enamel. [15]

Adverse herb‑drug interactions

Some phytochemicals found in herbs and fruits can adversely interact with others and over the counter or prescription medications, among other ways by affecting their metabolism by the body. Herbs and fruits that inhibit or induce the body's Cytochrome P450 enzyme complex function can either cause the drug to be dangerously ineffective, or increase its effective absorbed dose to potentially toxic levels, respectively. Best known examples of adverse herb‑drug interactions are grapefruit or St John's wort, contraindicated for several medications including Paxlovid and oral contraceptives, but other herbs also affect the CYP enzyme family, showing herb‑drug interactions. [16] [17] [18]


Depending on the source of the herbal ingredients, herbal teas, like any crop, may be contaminated with pesticides or heavy metals. [19] [20] According to Naithani & Kakkar (2004), "all herbal preparations should be checked for toxic chemical residues to allay consumer fears of exposure to known neuro-toxicant pesticides and to aid in promoting global acceptance of these products". [19]

During pregnancy

In addition to the issues mentioned above which are toxic to all people, several medicinal herbs are considered abortifacients, and if consumed by a pregnant individual could cause miscarriage. These include common ingredients like nutmeg, mace, papaya, bitter melon, verbena, saffron, slippery elm, and possibly pomegranate. It also includes more obscure herbs, like mugwort, rue, pennyroyal, wild carrot, blue cohosh, tansy, and savin.[ medical citation needed ]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Guarana</span> Species of tree

Guaraná is a climbing plant in the family Sapindaceae, native to the Amazon basin and especially common in Brazil. Guaraná has large leaves and clusters of flowers, and is best known for the seeds from its fruits, which are about the size of a coffee bean.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rooibos</span> Species of plant in the family Fabaceae

Rooibos, or Aspalathus linearis, is a broom-like member of the plant family Fabaceae that grows in South Africa's fynbos biome.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Yerba mate</span> Species of plant

Yerba mate or yerba-maté is a plant species of the holly genus Ilex native to South America. It was named by the French botanist Augustin Saint-Hilaire. The leaves of the plant can be steeped in hot water to make a beverage known as mate. Brewed cold, it is used to make tereré. Both the plant and the beverage contain caffeine.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tea bag</span> Small sealed bag or packet containing tea leaves

A tea bag or teabag is a small, porous, sealed bag or packet, typically containing tea leaves or the leaves of other herbs, which is immersed in water to steep and make an infusion. Originally used only for tea, they are now made with other tisanes as well.

Although health benefits have been assumed throughout the history of using Camellia sinensis as a common beverage, there is no high-quality evidence that consuming tea confers significant benefits other than possibly increasing alertness, an effect caused by caffeine in the tea leaves. In clinical research conducted over the early 21st century, tea has been studied extensively for its potential to lower the risk of human diseases, but there is no good scientific evidence to indicate that consuming tea affects any disease or improves health.

Decaffeination is the removal ("de-") of caffeine from coffee beans, cocoa, tea leaves, and other caffeine-containing materials. Decaffeinated products are commonly termed by the abbreviation decaf. Decaffeinated drinks contain typically 1–2% of the original caffeine content, but sometimes as much as 20%.

<i>Ilex vomitoria</i> Species of holly

Ilex vomitoria, commonly known as yaupon or yaupon holly, is a species of holly that is native to southeastern North America. The word yaupon was derived from the Catawban yą́pą, from yą- tree + leaf. Another common name, cassina, was borrowed from Timucua. The Latin name comes from an observation by early Europeans that the ingestion of the plant was followed by vomiting in certain ceremonies.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tea blending and additives</span> Blending different teas together

Tea blending is the act of blending different teas together to produce a final product that differs in flavor from the original tea used. This occurs chiefly with black tea, which is blended to make most tea bags, but it can also occur with such teas as Pu-erh, where leaves are blended from different regions before being compressed. The most prominent type of tea blending is commercial tea blending, which is used to ensure consistency of a batch on a mass scale so that any variations between different batches and seasons of tea production do not affect the final product. However, it is also common to blend tea leaves with herbs and spice, either for health purposes or to add interesting and more complex flavor notes. It is important that any one blend must taste the same as the previous one, so a consumer will not be able to detect a difference in flavor from one purchase to the next.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Infusion</span> Process of extracting chemical compounds or flavors from plant material in a solvent

Infusion is the process of extracting chemical compounds or flavors from plant material in a solvent such as water, oil or alcohol, by allowing the material to remain suspended in the solvent over time. An infusion is also the name for the resultant liquid. The process of infusion is distinct from both decoction—a method of extraction involving boiling the plant material—and percolation, in which water is passed through the material.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Coca tea</span> Infusion of coca plant leaves

Coca tea, also called mate de coca, is a herbal tea (infusion) made using the raw or dried leaves of the coca plant, which is native to South America. It is made either by submerging the coca leaf or dipping a tea bag in hot water. The tea is most commonly consumed in the Andes mountain range, particularly Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and especially in Peru, where it is consumed all around the country. It is greenish yellow in color and has a mild bitter flavor similar to green tea with a more organic sweetness.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Coffee substitute</span> Non-coffee products used to imitate coffee

Coffee substitutes are non-coffee products, usually without caffeine, that are used to imitate coffee. Coffee substitutes can be used for medical, economic and religious reasons, or simply because coffee is not readily available. Roasted grain beverages are common substitutes for coffee.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Decoction</span> Extraction by boiling herbal or plant material to dissolve the chemicals of the material

Decoction is a method of extraction by boiling herbal or plant material to dissolve the chemicals of the material. It is the most common preparation method in various herbal medicine systems. Decoction involves first drying the plant material; then mashing, slicing, or cutting the material to allow for maximum dissolution; and finally boiling in water to extract oils, volatile organic compounds and other various chemical substances. Occasionally, aqueous ethanol or glycerol may be used instead of water. Decoction can be used to make tisanes, tinctures and similar solutions. Decoctions and infusions may produce liquids with differing chemical properties, as the temperature or preparation difference may result in more oil-soluble chemicals in decoctions versus infusions. The process can also be applied to meats and vegetables to prepare bouillon or stock, though the term is typically only used to describe boiled plant extracts, usually for medicinal or scientific purposes.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Herb</span> Plant used for food, medicine or perfume

In general use, herbs are a widely distributed and widespread group of plants, excluding vegetables and other plants consumed for macronutrients, with savory or aromatic properties that are used for flavoring and garnishing food, for medicinal purposes, or for fragrances. Culinary use typically distinguishes herbs from spices. Herbs generally refers to the leafy green or flowering parts of a plant, while spices are usually dried and produced from other parts of the plant, including seeds, bark, roots and fruits.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Matte Leão</span> Brazilian brand of herbal tea drinks

Matte Leão is a Brazilian infusion and tea brand, now owned by The Coca-Cola Company. The spelling Matte is archaic, but preserved in the trademark; the currently correct Portuguese spelling for the herb and the derived beverage is mate. Matte Leão offers a range of over 100 types of infusions.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mexican tea culture</span>

Mexican tea culture is known for its traditional herbal teas which are reputed to have medicinal properties. In recent decades, imported tea beverages have also become popular in Mexico. Mexican tea recipes have grown in popularity beyond Mexico as well.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dominican tea culture</span>

Dominican tea culture combines many customs adapted from various colonial and immigrant cultures that have mingled in Dominica. "Bush teas", made from local herbal plants and often taken for medicinal purposes, are a traditional part of Dominica's culture.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Numi Organic Tea</span>

Numi Organic Tea is a privately owned triple bottom line social enterprise based in Oakland, California. Numi is known for its assortment of organic and fair trade certified teas and herbal "teasans". The company was founded in 1999 by brother and sister, Ahmed Rahim and Reem Hassani. The founders named the company "Numi" after the citrusy, Middle Eastern dried lime tea they drank as children growing up in Iraq. The name Numi is derived from the Arabic word for citrus. The J.M. Smucker Company holds a minority stake in Numi.

This is a list of plants used by the indigenous people of North America. For lists pertaining specifically to the Cherokee, Iroquois, Navajo, and Zuni, see Cherokee ethnobotany, Iroquois ethnobotany, Navajo ethnobotany, and Zuni ethnobotany.

Teatulia is a privately owned tea company based in Denver, Colorado. Teatulia is named after the Tetulia region in Northern Bangladesh where the company grows and produces its teas. It is the first USDA-certified organic tea garden in Bangladesh and the first tea in the United States that is imported from Bangladesh.

Madame Flavour is a tea and tisane company based in Australia. It was established by Corinne Noyes in 2007 after she found a market gap for high-quality loose leaf tea.


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