The Origin of Herbal Tea

Because herbal tea does not contain caffeine, has a light and elegant fragrance, and has unique therapeutic effects, it has become very popular in recent years and has now become a fashion. So, what is herbal tea?

Strictly speaking, herbal tea cannot actually be considered a type of tea because it does not contain tea components. It is a beverage made by drying and brewing the roots, stems, leaves, flowers, bark, and other parts of all edible plants, either individually or in combination.

Herbal tea, also known as floral tea, grass tea, or medicinal herb tea, is called Herbal Tea in English. In the West, Herbal Tea is akin to herbal medicine in China; it was originally used for medicinal purposes and has long played an important role in folk medicine recipes. 5000 years ago, the Sumerians living in the Euphrates River area used herbs that included cumin and thyme.

In the 16th century, women would hang a small cloth bag filled with various fragrant herbs, such as lavender, rosemary, thyme, and lemon, when they went out. The main purpose was not for their fragrance but to prevent external bacterial infections.

It wasn't until the late 18th century that the recreational value of herbal tea was gradually discovered. The French developed Herbal Tea into a leisure beverage, and this trend gradually spread to Europe, the United States, Japan, and even China.

Herbal teas and medicinal herbal teas do not differ much in terms of raw materials. The difference lies in the production process, where medicinal effects are de-emphasized in favor of enhancing color, aroma, and flavor. Compared to traditional tea, herbal teas are more distinctive in composition; single-ingredient beverages have unique flavors, while mixed-ingredient beverages offer rich, complex tastes.

These natural beverages, herbal teas, contain no caffeine or artificial colors. They are not only fragrant and colorful but also packed with natural nutrients, providing benefits such as skin care, stress relief, and calming effects. This aligns with modern people's pursuit of nature and health, leading to their growing popularity.

Origins

Herbal teas originate from almost all over the world. They have strong vitality and, besides thriving in their native regions, have expanded to other suitable climates and soils, becoming major cultivated economic crops. However, due to different climates and environments, the characteristics of herbal teas vary by region.

  • Mediterranean Coast

The Mediterranean coast is the homeland of many commonly used herbal teas. The term "herb" comes from the Latin word "herba," meaning grass or herb, originating from this area. Due to the sunny, dry summers, plants here often have small leaves, such as lavender, rosemary, sage, and thyme from the Lamiaceae family.

To adapt to the dry Mediterranean climate, these plants retain moisture through aromatic essential oils in their leaves. This makes them not only excellent sources of natural fragrances but also rich in medicinal properties. The dry, warm Mediterranean climate is ideal for naturally drying herbal teas, ensuring superior quality.

  • Europe

Besides the southern Mediterranean coast, central and northern Europe are also major production areas for herbal teas. This region has a cooler continental climate. Apart from native species like purple flowers, chamomile, and dill, they also cultivate economically valuable foreign herbs, making Europe a key distribution and promotion area for herbal teas.

  • Asia

Countries like China and India in Asia, known for their ancient civilizations, have a long history of using plants for medicinal and culinary purposes. They are regions where herbal teas are widely incorporated into daily life. Locally produced herbal teas typically have strong aromas or pungent flavors, such as angelica, ginseng, onion, garlic, basil, and cinnamon.

Although locals often consider these herbal teas as food rather than medicine, their significant medicinal potential has been recognized by Western medicine, particularly for treating cancer, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure, deserving modern attention.

  • Americas

After Europeans discovered the New World, knowledge and application of herbal teas by Native Americans were introduced to Europe. Consequently, herbs like stevia, primrose, lemon verbena, and yerba mate became increasingly well-known. In South America, the focus is on producing and directly using herbal teas, while in North America, countries like the United States and Canada are keen on developing pharmaceuticals from herbal tea ingredients.

  • Tropical Africa

Africa still retains numerous wild herbal tea species. Generally, the closer to the original variety, the stronger the medicinal effects. However, African herbal teas are often less aromatic and therefore less commonly used as tea ingredients.

While only a limited proportion of African herbal teas are known to outsiders, they have been used for hundreds of years among local tribes. Examples like aloe, devil's claw (South African hook plant), and buchu have proven effective medicinally.

Forms of Herbal Tea

There are many types of herbal teas. Currently, most of the herbal teas sold around the world come from major herbal tea manufacturing countries such as Germany, France, the UK, Australia, and Canada. Common flavors of herbal tea include: single herbal tea, blended herbal tea, fruit mixed herbal tea, and spiced herbal tea. The main forms of herbal tea are:

  • Naturally Dried Herbal Tea

Manufacturers dry fresh herbs and select the parts suitable for brewing, which is the natural herbal tea consumers see on the market. Generally speaking, this type of herbal tea is mostly single-flavored, but there are also some blended herbal teas. This is the most common form of herbal tea.

  • Herbal Tea Bags

Herbal tea bags provide a convenient way for office workers to enjoy herbal tea. However, most of these herbal teas are not purely herbal-flavored but are refined with other spices. Since they are imported products, they are relatively expensive. When purchasing, you should pay attention to the production date and whether the outer packaging is damaged to avoid buying spoiled herbal tea.

  • Fresh Herbal Tea

You can buy some common herbal tea seeds from specialty herbal tea stores or flower markets, grow them yourself, and then brew fresh herbal tea, such as: chrysanthemum, rosemary, violet, lavender, etc. It should be noted that ornamental herbs or those of unknown origin may be sprayed with pesticides, so they are not suitable for brewing as herbal tea.

Ingredients and Functions of Herbal Teas

Herbal teas come from natural plants and do not contain stimulating caffeine. They have rich flavors and a wide range of benefits.

The ingredients of each type of herbal tea are quite complex, with the following common components:

Aromatic Essential Oils: Also known as volatile oils or essential oils. Although the content of aromatic essential oils in herbal tea is not high in proportion, they are highly valuable. In different types of herbal teas, the composition of aromatic essential oils varies, giving each herbal tea its unique aroma and distinct medicinal effects. Generally, aromatic essential oils have good effects such as refreshing the mind, preserving, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antispasmodic, and they greatly benefit the immune system.

Tannins: Also known as tannic acid, they are the source of the astringent and bitter taste of herbal teas, and have astringent, antidiarrheal, and anti-infection effects.

Vitamins: Herbal teas contain many vitamins, with a variety of types. Drinking herbal tea can absorb its water-soluble vitamins such as A and C, which not only promote digestion and metabolism and enhance beauty but also help improve the constitution fundamentally.

Minerals: Herbal teas contain various minerals such as magnesium, calcium, and iron, which are essential nutrients for human health.

Flavonoids: These are pigments that often coexist with vitamin C in herbal teas and significantly influence the color of herbal teas. In addition to diuretic and cardiovascular protective effects, their functions in anti-tumor and cancer prevention (preventing the formation of free radicals) are increasingly recognized.

Bitter Principles: Bitter principles give herbal teas their bitterness, but they also promote digestion, have anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial functions.

Glycosides: Plants with medicinal purposes usually contain them. They are one of the main components for the therapeutic effects of herbal teas, having functions such as strengthening the heart, preserving, antitussive, and diuretic.

Alkaloids: They are also one of the main medicinal components of plants, especially affecting the nervous system, and are toxic. They must be used carefully, but in commonly consumed herbal teas, this component is negligible and not toxic.

Due to these components, herbal teas have effects such as beautifying and skincare, relieving stress, aiding sleep or refreshing, aiding digestion, regulating the body, and enhancing the immune system. Long-term consumption can help eliminate toxins in human cells that cannot be smoothly excreted, fundamentally improving the constitution, and most do not have side effects. However, herbal teas are ultimately health teas, and if you have an illness, you should still see a doctor and use herbal teas as a supplement.

Important points to pay attention to when drinking herbal tea

It is essential to have the correct perspective when consuming herbal tea. Although herbal tea has medicinal properties, its primary purpose is for health maintenance. It is unrealistic to believe that drinking herbal tea will cure illnesses. Approaching it with a relaxed and pleasant mindset, treating it as an enjoyable activity, is the ideal way to achieve its health benefits.

While herbal tea is beneficial, it is not suitable for everyone. The following groups of people should avoid drinking herbal tea:

  1. Those allergic to flowers or herbs;
  2. Pregnant women and infants;
  3. Patients with chronic diseases such as hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and diabetes.

Moreover, not all dried flowers and Chinese medicinal herbs are suitable for making tea. Pharmacology experts warn that some dried flowers and Chinese medicinal herbs are not appropriate for consumption.

Let’s first discuss Chinese medicinal herbs. Malva nuts are only suitable for hoarseness caused by wind-heat toxins affecting the throat. If hoarseness is due to vocal cord nodules, incomplete vocal cord closure, or excessive smoking and drinking, malva nuts are ineffective. Additionally, drinking malva nuts can cause loose stools and chest tightness. Elderly people and those with sudden voice loss or spleen deficiency should use them cautiously. Although cassia seeds have lipid-lowering effects, they can also cause diarrhea, and long-term consumption is harmful to the body. Licorice has benefits such as tonifying the spleen and Qi, and clearing heat and detoxifying, but long-term use can cause edema and elevated blood pressure. Ginkgo leaves contain toxic components, and using them to make tea can cause paroxysmal convulsions, nerve paralysis, allergies, and other side effects; hence, they should not be used to brew tea.

Dried flowers used for tea are not absolutely safe either. For instance, those with spleen and stomach deficiency or pregnant women should not drink wild chrysanthemum tea. Additionally, a small number of people may experience gastrointestinal reactions such as stomach discomfort, poor appetite, intestinal sounds, and loose stools after drinking wild chrysanthemum tea. Patients taking Western medicine should be especially cautious when drinking herbal tea because improper combination with Western medicine can harm the body.

Therefore, when drinking herbal tea, it is important to understand the characteristics of each herb. Additionally, do not consume a single type of herbal tea for a long time, as it can easily lead to physical weakness, allergies, cough, or leucorrhea.

The Crafting Process of Flower and Herbal Tea

Most flowers and herbs have specific growth periods and harvesting times. To make flower and herbal tea available for consumption outside these periods or in non-growing regions, they must be dried to extend their shelf life.

  • Harvesting Flower and Herbal Tea

Flower and herbal tea harvested at the appropriate time will contain the most beneficial components. If the primary goal is to harvest flowers, they should be picked when they first bloom but before reaching full bloom. For leaves or whole plants, the best time is when the stems and leaves are lush, or the buds have not yet opened. It is advisable to harvest on sunny days before noon, as this helps in keeping the flowers and herbs intact during drying.

  • Drying Flower and Herbal Tea

After harvesting, the withered branches and leaves, as well as any insects, should be removed immediately. The flowers and herbs should then be moved to a cool, well-ventilated place to air dry naturally. Placing the flowers and herbs away from direct sunlight helps maintain their color and shape, while good ventilation prevents them from acquiring a musty smell.

These steps should be taken promptly after harvesting to prevent the aromatic substances in the flowers and herbs from evaporating or the plants from oxidizing and deteriorating.

During the drying process, it is important to keep the flowers and herbs intact. Usually, several stems are tied into a small bundle in the middle and hung upside down, while flowers are spread out on layers of racks to air dry. Even when using a drying machine, the process should be gradual, as rapid drying can cause the aromatic oils in the flowers and herbs to evaporate.

Secrets to Selecting High-Quality Herbal Teas

Herbal teas come in two types: loose leaf and branded. Most are imported from Europe and America, with the majority consisting of single herb ingredients, though some are a blend of several herbs and fruit pieces. When purchasing loose leaf herbal teas, it's best to go to reputable herbal tea specialty stores or the herbal tea counters in large shopping malls. Branded herbal teas can be found in larger supermarkets. When selecting, choose those with pure and vibrant colors, intact leaves and flowers, and plump fruit pieces. The tea should be free from impurities, moisture, mold, strange odors, insect damage, or sun exposure, and should have a strong herbal aroma. If you can taste it, good herbal tea should be fresh and sweet.

The safety and hygiene of herbal tea are paramount. Reputable suppliers are strict with their product management, reducing the likelihood of poor quality or adulterated ingredients. These teas often come in standardized packaging with clear labeling and often provide explanations and samples, making it easier for beginners to find suitable products. Moreover, each type of herb and fruit has specific harvesting, processing steps, and methods that require skill. Simply picking and drying herbs may not yield good results, so it's important to buy reliable products.

Currently, there are many stores selling herbal teas, and generally, their quality is above standard. Department stores also have sales points, with stable quality, but due to high rental costs, the prices are relatively high. Herbal teas in supermarkets or regular markets are of more ordinary quality. If you're not too particular, you can choose from these places as well.

  • Color

The color of herbal teas isn't as vibrant as fresh herbs, but since they are dried, they retain their original colors to some extent. Flower types should be bright, maintaining the color of fresh flowers, while leaves and grasses may be slightly yellowish, showing a greenish-yellow hue. Avoid purchasing herbal teas that are dull, gray, discolored, yellowed, or have stains.

Be cautious of overly bright colors. Since herbal teas are dried and baked, they won't look as "bright" as fresh ones. If they appear very vivid, they may have added colorants.

  • Form

High-quality herbal teas should be complete in form, such as whole dried flowers or intact leaves. It's reasonable to find some fragments due to transportation or packaging, but deteriorated herbal teas will have fine powders, indicating poor quality. Avoid those that show signs of insect damage, are badly broken, or have inconsistent color due to improper storage.

For bud-type herbal teas, the buds should be tight and firm for a good brew. Loose and scattered buds should be avoided. Additionally, when selecting blended herbal teas, be cautious of merchants adding inedible nuts to increase weight.

  • Aroma

Good herbal teas have a natural, dry, and fresh aroma. Poor quality teas often have added artificial fragrances to enhance or mask the original smell. Trust your nose and check if the aroma is natural, and be wary of any burnt, foul, or strange smells. Not all scents are universally appealing, so it's wise to buy in small quantities and taste it first to ensure you can accept or enjoy it.

Dryness Level

Herbal teas need a completely dry environment. If the packaging is not tight or has absorbed moisture, the brewed tea will not taste good and may even become moldy and spoil.

Herbal teas that are highly dry feel very light in hand and can be crushed easily by hand. If they feel soft and damp, it indicates they have absorbed moisture and are best not to buy. Choose teas with good dryness, preferably with a moisture content below 40%, which facilitates long-term storage.

Generally, herbal teas can be stored for a year. After a year, their nutritional efficacy and pigments will be affected because herbs are prone to oxidation, and natural pigments degrade in high moisture conditions.

Pay Attention to Packaging Labels

For packaged herbal teas, check if the packaging is intact and undamaged. Pay attention to the production date and shelf life on the packaging. Products that have been out for more than a year or are close to their shelf life will have lost some aroma due to prolonged storage and are best not to buy.

Expired herbal teas will have a strange odor and should not be purchased. For unpackaged herbal teas, be even more cautious to avoid buying expired products.

Additionally, some herbal tea packages boast exaggerated and untrue effects without clearly stating the ingredients, brewing method, company name, or manufacturer information. These should all be noted.

Personal Preference and Needs

Although various herbal teas claim many therapeutic effects, they cannot replace medicine. It is recommended to regard drinking herbal tea as an enjoyment rather than a cure for diseases. Therefore, the most important thing is to choose the fragrance you like, and then consider the therapeutic effects. Otherwise, if you buy herbal tea that you don't like to drink, wouldn't it be torturing yourself?

Buy Small Quantities of Herbal Tea

Even for those who drink herbal tea regularly, it is not advisable to buy too much at one time. Based on your drinking volume, it is more appropriate to buy an amount that can be consumed within three months. For those who drink it occasionally, it is better to choose small-packaged herbal teas.

Herbal Teas and Body Constitution

Drinking herbal teas, in addition to being an enjoyment, also has various effects. While satisfying taste and visual enjoyment, you should also choose suitable herbal teas according to your body constitution.

Traditional Chinese Medicine divides body constitutions into four types: deficiency, cold, excess, and heat. Deficiency constitution is further divided into yang deficiency and yin deficiency.

ConstitutionCharacteristicsSuitable HerbsUnsuitable Herbs
Heat TypeLikes cold foods or drinks, drinks a lot of water but still feels dry mouth, fears heat, bad temper, easily irritable.Cool herbs such as ginseng beard, American ginseng, cassia seed, bitter tea, chrysanthemum, mint, grass jelly, mung beans, coix seed, millet, wheat, carambola, banana, kiwi, strawberry, pear, cherry, green tea.Warm, spicy, stimulating herbs such as ginger, longan, cinnamon.
Cold TypeRarely drinks water and does not feel thirsty, often feels weak and tired, pale complexion, pale lips, fears cold, dislikes wind, cold hands and feet, likes hot drinks and food.Warm herbs such as angelica, ginseng, astragalus, chestnut, hawthorn, walnut, red beans, peanuts, almonds, ginger, fennel, longan, peach, mulberry, black tea, oolong tea.Pear, winter melon, bitter gourd, bitter tea, grass jelly.
Strong TypeActive, loud voice, strong body, muscular, bad temper, easily irritable, insomnia, thick tongue coating, coarse breathing, easily bloated, dislikes heavy clothing.Bitter cold herbs such as coix seed, mung beans, grass jelly, pear, orange.Cinnamon, pine nuts, ginger, longan.
Yang DeficiencySimilar to cold type, insufficient Yang energy, fatigue, fear of cold, cold limbs, pale lips, prefers hot drinks, sleepy and weak.Yang boosting herbs such as cordyceps, ginseng, walnut, ginger, cinnamon, peanuts.Honeysuckle, dandelion, white grass root, plantain herb, bitter tea, winter melon.
Yin DeficiencySimilar to strong type, insufficient Yin energy, often thirsty, dry throat, insomnia, dizziness, irritability, dry skin, thin body, night sweats, sweaty and hot hands and feet.Yin nourishing herbs such as American ginseng, lily, sesame, black beans.Dried ginger, cinnamon, clove, longan, fennel, walnut.

How to Preserve Herbal Teas

After purchasing high-quality herbal teas, it is essential to pay attention to the correct storage methods to maintain the color, aroma, and taste of the teas. Since dried herbal teas are most susceptible to humid environments and direct sunlight, they can become brittle or deteriorate, and the fragrance of the herbs can easily dissipate.

Therefore, special attention must be paid to storage after bringing herbal teas home. Additionally, it is best to consume them quickly to avoid deterioration over time.

The principles of storing herbal teas are low temperature, dryness, insect prevention, and avoiding light exposure. Pay attention to the following points:

The herbal tea materials sold on the market are often packaged in cellophane bags, which usually lack sufficient airtightness. If you want to keep herbal teas for a longer time, they should be transferred to jars for storage. If jars take up too much space, convenient ziplock bags can be used. The key is to place herbal teas in containers that do not have direct contact with outside air. However, since dried herbal teas still contain about 5% to 10% moisture, they should never be stored in plastic bags, as the temperature difference inside and outside the bag can cause condensation and spoilage. Ceramic jars, brown paper bags, corrugated boxes, or glass bottles with cork stoppers can be used.

Ceramic tea jars are the best for maintaining the stable quality of dried herbs. Transparent glass bottles or jars, while convenient for checking for moisture or mold, should be stored in a cabinet to avoid sunlight penetration. Regardless of whether they are placed in bags or sealed jars, they must be well-sealed to prevent oxidation and moisture. When storing herbal teas in sealed jars, check if the jars are clean, dry, and odor-free before placing the teas inside, and include a desiccant.

Herbal teas should also be stored away from strong-smelling items to avoid cross-contamination of flavors. Different types of dried herbs should not be mixed, as this can confuse the original aromas, especially with strong-smelling herbs like lavender and rosemary, which can overpower other herbs stored together. Additionally, herbal teas of the same type but purchased at different times should be stored separately to prevent the fresh aroma from dissipating quickly.

  • Storage Location for Herbal Teas

After sealing the herbal teas, they should be stored in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated place, avoiding direct sunlight. UV light and heat in sunlight can cause chemical changes in the teas, leading to discoloration and deterioration in a short period, with loss of nutritional value.

If the home environment is relatively humid and lacks dehumidification equipment, herbal teas can also be stored in the refrigerator. However, it is crucial to isolate them from other odors in the fridge. Herbal teas placed in the fridge must be well-sealed and kept separate from strong-smelling items to avoid absorbing other food odors, which can alter their flavor.

  • Shelf Life of Herbal Teas

The shelf life of herbal teas is generally 1 to 2 years, but the color and aroma of the teas will degrade over time. Ideally, consume herbal teas within 3 months after opening to enjoy their fresh fragrance and flavor.

Usually, herbal teas made from flowers, leaves, and other above-ground parts can be stored for one year, while those from roots and stems can be stored for about two years. It is recommended to label the sealed jars with the product name and expiration date to avoid consuming expired herbal teas.

Additionally, do not worry about small bugs during storage. Since most herbal teas use fewer pesticides, small bugs may hatch from eggs attached to the herbs as temperatures rise. These bugs are harmless for consumption; in fact, the presence of bugs indicates no pesticide or chemical fertilizer usage, making the teas safer to drink.

TipsSource
Chamomile tea can reduce menstrual pain and muscle spasms, improve sleep and relaxation, and reduce stress.Penn Medicine (www.pennmedicine.org)
Rooibos tea helps lower blood pressure and promote blood circulation, increase good cholesterol, and lower bad cholesterol.Journal Of Nutrition (journalofnutrition.org)
Peppermint tea helps relieve indigestion and stomach spasms.The Botanical Institute (botanicalinstitute.org)
Lavender tea has calming effects, helping to improve anxiety and promote sleep.Phys.org (phys.org)
Ginger tea has anti-inflammatory properties, helping to relieve joint pain and muscle pain.NutritionFacts.org (nutritionfacts.org)
Elderflower tea has antiviral properties and can boost the immune system.Healthy Focus (healthyfocus.org)
Rose tea is rich in vitamin C, helping to promote skin health.Cleveland Clinic (health.clevelandclinic.org)
Verbena tea helps reduce oxidative stress and promotes post-exercise recovery.Healthy Focus (healthyfocus.org)
Chicory tea helps improve digestive health and acts as a laxative.Mount Sinai (mountsinai.org)
Hibiscus tea is rich in antioxidants and helps lower blood pressure.NutritionFacts.org (nutritionfacts.org)

Brewing and Tasting Herbal Tea

Brewing herbal tea is not complicated, but there are certain considerations regarding the amount of herbs, the tea-to-water ratio, and the brewing time. Only by doing so can you brew a pot of herbal tea that is both visually pleasing and delicious.

Some herbal teas use the stems or roots of plants, which need to be boiled to release their flavor; others use the flowers or leaves, which can be brewed with hot water. It is important to note that each type of herbal tea has different health benefits, so if you are unsure of the medicinal properties of each herb, it is best to drink them individually to avoid any adverse effects from random mixing.

  • Teaware

Herbal tea is half for tasting and half for visual enjoyment. Watching the flowers slowly unfurl in the water, showing their vibrant beauty, is an essential part of the experience. Therefore, transparent vessels should be used for brewing herbal tea. Of course, using ceramic teaware decorated with floral or pastoral patterns can also highlight the elegant and fresh atmosphere of herbal tea.

Porcelain and glass teaware are the best choices for brewing herbal tea. For medicinal teas with strong therapeutic value, pottery teaware can be used. Here are some teaware and accessories for brewing herbal tea.

  • Teapot

Herbal tea pots are generally wide-bodied and almost spherical to facilitate the convection of boiling water, which helps release the color, aroma, and flavor of the herbs. It is best to use a transparent glass pot with a filter to appreciate the color of the tea and the beauty of the herbs.

Ceramic teapots are exquisitely shaped, often decorated with beautiful floral, bird, and insect patterns, which match well with the natural flavor of herbal tea. Additionally, due to their fine texture, they do not easily undergo chemical changes and can retain heat, thus preserving the color, aroma, and flavor of the herbal tea. In cold seasons, a teapot with a thermal cover can better maintain the tea's temperature. However, when using ceramic teapots, you cannot appreciate the color of the tea or the beauty of the herbs.

Transparent glass pots are the most common tools for brewing herbal tea. They are lighter and easier to handle than ceramic ones and allow you to admire the floating and sinking herbs and the bright yellow or light green tea color, which is very pleasing. The downside is that glass pots do not retain heat well, and the tea aroma dissipates easily. Some glass pots come with a filter, which functions to filter the tea when pouring.

  • Herbal Tea Cups

Herbal tea cups should ideally be plain-colored or transparent. Ceramic cups retain heat well, and their interior should preferably be white to better appreciate the tea color. Since the color of herbal tea is usually light and elegant, pouring it into a transparent glass cup makes it especially bright and inviting, complementing the rising wisps of aroma, which is particularly enchanting. Handle-less glass cups can burn your hands, so you can add a handle holder. Lidded cups are best for individual drinking and usually come with a tea filter.

  • Herbal Tea Warmer

Since glass pots do not retain heat, a warmer is a suitable accessory. It consists of a glass dish, a pot stand, and a candle holder. When drinking tea, place the glass pot on the stand on the dish, and the candle flame underneath keeps the tea warm. The stand ensures even heating of the pot, and the candlelight through the glass dish adds a touch of warmth to the atmosphere.

  • Herbal Tea Hourglass and Timer

Each type of herbal tea has an optimal brewing time, which can be accurately measured using these timing tools. Using an hourglass has a traditional charm, but for herbal teas that require a longer steeping time, a timer is more suitable, as it can be set to the required time and will alert you when the tea is ready.

  • Honey Jar, Sugar Jar

Although herbal tea has a natural sweet taste, many people are not used to its mild flavor, so honey or sugar can be added to enhance the taste according to personal preference. Even when drinking it plain, honey and sugar jars can serve as table decorations.

  • Herbal Tea Strainer Spoon

Most ceramic teapots do not have a built-in filter or strainer. When pouring herbal tea with small pieces of herbs, a strainer spoon is needed to filter and hold the tea dregs. To brew a delicious herbal tea, choosing high-quality ingredients is essential: water quality and temperature are crucial; the tea-to-water ratio and seasoning should not be overlooked. Let's see how to brew a good pot of herbal tea.

  • Quality and Quantity of Ingredients

First, ensure the quality of the ingredients; only good herbs can make good herbal tea. As for the quantity of ingredients, it should be considered based on the characteristics of each herb. Generally, aromatic herbs can be used in smaller amounts, and if fresh herbs are used, their quantity should be 2-3 times that of dried herbs.

  • Tea-to-Water Ratio

Herbal tea can be brewed with single or mixed ingredients. Generally, the water ratio for single herbal tea is between 1:50 to 1:100. For aromatic herbal teas, the amount should be appropriately reduced; for compound herbal teas, take 2-3 grams of each herb and brew according to the above ratio to make a pot of colorful herbal tea. However, do not use too many varieties in one brewing; generally, three or four types are enough. Using too many will affect the aesthetics and taste.

  • Water Quality

Sweet spring water is the best choice for brewing tea, as it produces clear tea with fewer impurities and the best taste. If unavailable, use water with few impurities, such as mineral water, purified water, or filtered water.

  • Temperature

The temperature for brewing herbal tea should not be too high, around 90°C is sufficient. Some active ingredients in herbs, such as polyphenols and flavonoids, will decompose at high temperatures, reducing their effectiveness. If fresh herbs are used, the water temperature should be around 60°C to prevent wilting.

Generally, the higher the brewing temperature, the more bitter the tea will be. A little orange juice or honey can be added to balance the bitterness. If you prefer a stronger flavor, you can boil the tea. Once the water boils, do not continue to boil on high heat; transfer it to a glass warmer and maintain the temperature with a small candle. This way, the tea will be sweet and rich in oxygen.

  • Flavoring and Tea Snacks

Drinking herbal tea plain best allows you to appreciate its natural color, aroma, and flavor. If you are not used to the unique taste of herbal tea, you can add honey, sugar, fresh milk, lemon, fruit pieces, or calorie-free stevia according to your preference, but do not add too much to avoid overshadowing the natural flavor.

The ideal ratio of herbal tea to flavoring is 3:2. The timing of adding flavoring is also important; it should be soaked for 2-3 minutes and stirred well with a spoon for the best taste.

Tea snacks to accompany herbal tea should be light and refreshing, such as sandwiches, puff pastries, herbal tea jelly, cookies made with herbs, green tea cookies, rose cakes, and cheesecake.

Brewing

Each type of herbal tea has its optimal brewing time, which varies depending on the characteristics and parts of the herbs used. Mastering the correct brewing time ensures the perfect presentation of the herb's essence, including color, aroma, taste, and pharmacological effects. Generally, flowers and leaves, which release their flavors easily, should be steeped for 5 to 10 minutes. Harder parts like fruits, bark, and roots need to be steeped for over 15 minutes. Steeping for too long can cause the aroma to evaporate. Additionally, some herbs contain tannins, which can cause a bitter taste and unclear tea color if brewed for too long. Therefore, when purchasing, be sure to ask for the recommended brewing time. For the first brew, steep a bit longer; for subsequent brews, slightly shorten the time.

Warming the teapot: Warm the teapot and teacups with boiling water. A cold teapot cannot bring out the original flavor of the herbal tea, so it's essential to warm the teapot and teacups.

Common brewing methods include the following:

  1. Place the herbal tea directly in the teapot or a tea strainer and pour boiling water over it. The herbal tea will quickly expand and release its aroma, but the downside is that it can easily break apart and produce tea dregs.
  2. Fill the teapot halfway with hot water, then add the herbal tea, and finally fill the teapot with more hot water. This method results in a cleaner tea infusion, but the herbs expand more slowly than in the previous method, so the tea color will be lighter.
  3. Fill the teapot with hot water, then add the herbal tea to steep. This method preserves the herbs' shape, allows for a longer steeping time, and results in a milder tea aroma.

For tea bags, add hot water first, then place the tea bag in the water. Using water at around 90-95°C will extract the herbal tea's aroma and flavor.

If the ingredients are harder parts like fruits, bark, roots, or stems, using the boiling method can better extract their essence, especially for medicinal purposes. First, boil the water in a small pot, add the herbal tea, reduce the heat and simmer for about one minute, then pour the herbal tea into a teapot and steep until the tea color darkens before drinking. This method releases the strongest tea aroma but is more complex and time-consuming.

Cover the pot: During the brewing and simmering process, always cover the pot or teapot tightly to prevent the essential oils in the herbal tea from evaporating with the steam. The brewing and simmering time should be about 3-5 minutes, and for tea bags, about 1 minute.

Resting time: Regardless of the brewing method, let the entire pot of herbal tea rest for 2-3 minutes after brewing to release its components and aroma.

Pour out all the brewed herbal tea to avoid an overly strong taste. Generally, herbal tea can be brewed twice.

It’s important to note that the pot used for brewing should not be made of iron or aluminum, as it may cause chemical reactions that affect the tea's flavor and nutrition. Use stainless steel, glass, ceramic, or enamel pots. Clay pots are excellent for brewing tea as they maintain the original flavor.

  • Iced tea method

Drinking hot herbal tea can warm the body, promote blood circulation, and improve absorption. However, some herbal teas are more refreshing and tasty when iced in the summer, such as peppermint tea and chamomile tea. The iced tea method is similar to the teapot brewing method but with 1/3 to 1/2 less water, making the tea stronger so that it won't be diluted by ice. If the herbal flavor is strong, remove the herbs before chilling to avoid a bitter taste.

  • Other considerations for herbal tea

It's best to brew only the amount of herbal tea you plan to drink. If there's leftover tea, refrigerate it. While the color, aroma, and flavor won’t be as perfect as freshly brewed, it can be kept for 1-2 days. Beyond 3 days, it should not be kept.

  • Tasting

The world of herbal tea offers a colorful and delightful experience. Refreshing peppermint tea in the morning, light afternoon tea, digestive lemon verbena after meals, sleep-inducing orange blossom before bed, chamomile to calm agitation, and a pot of beautifying rose tea for a pale complexion—herbs gently unfurl in water, evoking endless imagination.

Herbal tea can be enjoyed plain or with added flavors to enhance or mellow its taste. Besides water, herbal tea can also be brewed with milk or alcohol.

When enjoying the natural flavor of herbal tea, choose a spot with gentle sunlight, sit quietly, pair it with light snacks, read a book, listen to New Age music, or chat with friends to enjoy a leisurely time and a relaxed mind.

Pairing snacks with herbal tea requires some thought. For sour herbal teas like hibiscus or rosehip, sweet treats like honey cake are suitable. Chamomile tea with apple notes pairs well with apple-based cakes. Mildly aromatic herbs like rose, linden, and calendula go well with spicy snacks like gingerbread.

Chocolate desserts can be paired with peppermint tea to balance the sweetness and refresh the palate. For creamy desserts, pair with lemongrass, lemon verbena, or mint blends to have a soothing effect on the stomach and aid digestion.

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