There’s nothing quite like a cup of hot tea. After living in the UK for 6 years, I can tell you I’ve certainly had my share of cups of the brew, and I’m sure I’ll still be drinking it years from now. Apart from the regular tea associated with most of the British world, there is a wave of new tea types hitting the market. I’m speaking of herbal tea blends, or infusions. People are streaming towards herb tea and beginning to stay away from coffee or black tea. It’s interesting to note that although we don’t think of coffee or black tea as herbal drinks, they are both botanical, and have medicinal properties that have been recognized for hundreds of years. Some may be surprised to know that the attraction to herbal teas is also nothing new. In fact most ancient cultures have been practicing the art of blending herbs to make teas or infusions since the dawn of time. History claims the first tea bag was actually a homemade herbal poultice, quickly stitched together by a warrior looking to disinfect a fresh wound. Not quite the same sensation as sipping mandarin spice from your best china cup, I might add. However, the use of the teabag has certainly evolved since.
What’s the difference between herbal tea and infusions? Though the word ‘tea’ refers strictly to the actual tea species ‘Camellia sinensis’, we use ‘tea’ to describe other hot beverages. An infusion is simply a hot beverage whose ingredients have been allowed to steep longer than the average time. An infusion of medicinal herbs will usually have a higher potency factor than a typical cup of herb tea.
Visit the hot beverage aisle in any supermarket and you will see that the herb tea section appears to be taking over. Chamomile, mint, licorice, cinnamon and a vast array of other flavours are displayed in bright coloured boxes, arranged in such a way that the curious eye will not pass by without a glance. Additional newcomers to the tea aisles are rooibos (pronounced roy-bis), and honey bush, both hailing from South Africa. These two wonders from the plant kingdom pack a powerful health punch, and are filled with antioxidants, minerals and vitamins. Beyond these, are even more wonderful productions like Japanese matcha, white teas and South American maté. These teas will be covered in far more detail with articles for Planet Botanic, coming in the near future.
One of the reasons for this ongoing resurgence in herbal tea popularity is that consumers are becoming more and more health conscious by the day. More than ever, the public is carefully watching what foods and beverages they consume. Herbal tea blends can offer an amazing variety of flavour, more often than not with health benefits to match! There are herb teas that can be used as excellent detoxifiers, nervous system tonics, digestive tonics… the list goes on.
At Planet Botanic, we love to spread the herbal ‘gospel’, so we are of course happy to see people moving more towards using herbs in their daily life, including the drinking of herb teas. This continuing trend in using herbs for tea has prompted us to come up with some interesting, exotic and tasty tea blends. As much as we love chamomile, we thought it would be fun to put a bit of zip into our chamomile tea, so we added mint along with a couple of other tasty herbs. One of our aims in spreading the herbal gospel is to show how herbs don’t have to be boring and flavourless! To that end, we know your taste buds will do a little dance after sampling Planet Botanic’s Chocolate Tea! And, there are many more exciting flavours that Planet Botanic intends on bringing to your attention, so have no fear you herb lovers. The herbal truth is out there!
Now, don’t get the idea that we are only behind ‘herbal’ teas. Black tea, green tea and white tea all have their health benefits as well as being available in a wide variety of tempting flavours. On the note of black, green and white teas, people often ask what the difference is. White tea is the youngest bud or leaf, with green coming in a bit older, and black tea being fermented and roasted. The latter also has the most caffeine content, and white has the least. White tea is also purported to have the highest level of antioxidants.