Tea vs Herbal Tea: A Fine Distinction

In tea vs herbal tea, I show the distinction between the two and the rise of herb tea, or tisanes, to popularity. Though you might already know theres a difference between herbal teas and true tea.

The "true" tea plant is Camellia sinensis that makes the traditional oxidized green, black, white, and oolong tea. Outside the Camellia plant family numerous herb parts like flowers, leaves, stems, petals, and roots produce herbal teas.

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But why should you drink herbal tea if its not the true tea?

Starting in ancient China, herbs were used to flavor the bitter, crudely-produced tea of the time period. The added herbs, such as ginger and peppermint, were said to improve the flavor of tea and it's health-giving properties. People across many cultures and centuries drank infused herbs for their flavor and health benefits. To the ancients there was little tea vs herbal tea debate, they simply combined the two for the imparted flavor on their rough tea drink.

As we fast forward to more modern times, the tradition of herb flavorings and herbal remedies are seen in the varieties adorning market shelves. There are many more qualities to herbal teas than there are true tea. But how does herbal tea compare to true tea? Below are the benefits of herb tea, or tisane, over green tea:

Herb Tea

  • Several beneficial phyto-chemicals ranging from flavonoids to indoles
  • Flavors of fruity, flowery, minty, spicy, sweet, and smooth
  • Aroma present in the many varieties
  • Blends well with other herbs and true tea
  • Prepared by infusing in hot or cold water, frozen, or room temperature
  • Herbs easily processed and prepared for tea

Green Tea

  • Contains beneficial flavonoids and catechins
  • Flavor is vegetal with hints of savory and sweet
  • Aroma is grassy with a hint of mellow sweetness
  • Prepared in cold or hot water
  • Requires long processing method and preparation

Tea vs Herbal Tea?

Indeed, there are many more flavors found in tisanes than the true tea. Everything from the flowery taste of hibiscus to the spicy savor of ginger and cinnamon. A tea blend of hibiscus is amplified with a lemony taste, the herbs and spices of lemon peel and lemongrass, to the spicy licorice with cinnamon and orange peel added. Even the fruits plum, raspberry, and black currant are added to green tea to liven up the taste.

Don't simply settle on green tea when theres a world of herbal teas awaiting your experimentation. Though you can find great green tea blends that give the best of both worlds.

The health benefits of herb tea are even more impressive than true tea. Modern research shows that herbs contain over a hundred phyto-chemicals from phenols to antiviral properties. In nature, these compounds act like a natural defense for the plant and lend their defenses to humans.

Then theres always the wonderful aroma of a cup of hot herb tea. The sweetness of plum and the flower scent of jasmine. True tea doesn't impart nearly as much scents as herbs do.

Herbal tea fulfills the need for flavor, health benefits, and aroma. It meets those needs in more ways than true tea ever does.

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Herbal Tea History: Rising Cultures and Social Rebellion