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Last Updated on July 28, 2022 by Scott
I often get asked questions about what “true” or “regular” tea is, and if herbal tea actually qualifies for this category. In this article we’ll explore some answers to that question.
The main difference, and easiest way to differentiate between herbal tea and regular tea, is by the plant that it comes from. Regular tea comes from what is known as the tea plant, or more scientifically, the Camellia Sinensis. Whereas herbal teas, of which there are a huge variety, come from all different types of plants.
There are only a few actual teas that can be classified as regular, or ‘real’ teas. These are black, white, green, yellow and oolong tea. There are many different varieties of herbal teas, of which you can read about in the article below and learn more about how is herbal tea different from regular tea.
What is the Difference Between Herbal Tea Different and “Real” Tea?
As mentioned earlier, “real” tea (also sometimes referred to as non herbal tea) comes from one specific plant, the Camellia Sinensis plant. There are just two main varieties of this plant that are used in tea making and it is the leaves and leaf buds that can be used. It’s very popular in China, but can be found in other parts of Asia.
“Real” tea also contains caffeine, whereas herbal teas generally do not. The amount of caffeine differs between the teas. Caffeine content however, is more dependent on factors such as what part of the plant was used, rather than the actual type of tea. The process used in making the tea will also affect the caffeine levels in the tea.
Herbal teas can be made from a wide variety of plants and also from different parts of the plant. And, you can get really creative, depending on the taste of tea you prefer. You could make herbal tea from dried fruits, mushrooms, roots and even herbs and spices. Some herbal tea blends might actually contain real tea. Herbal tea can be made by pouring boiling water over the part of the plant you wish to use, letting it sit for a while, and then straining. One example of this is Dandelion Tea. And another consideration are the differences between herbal teas and green teas.
What Is Herbal Tea? The History And Origins
Herbal tea can also be known as herbal infusions, or tisanes, although the latter is not very common. Herbal teas have been around for a very long time. People have been very interested in the medicinal properties of plants and there are documented cases of herbal teas being used in ancient Egypt and China.
Regular tea can be dated back to ancient China, about 5,000 years. Some folklore say that tea was accidentally discovered by an Emperor who had a cup of hot water, into which some tea leaves accidentally fell. Using plants and herbs for medicinal purposes can also be dated back to over 5,000 years.
Peppermint tea can also be dated back thousands of years. The people of ancient Rome, Egypt and Greece would use it in their ceremonies. Today tea is consumed all over the world and is one of the most popular drinks – being beaten only by water. Black tea is probably the most popular of all the teas.
What Different Types Of Herbal Tea Are There?
There are literally thousands of different types of herbal teas. Some of the more popular and well-known ones include chamomile, peppermint, ginger, jasmine, and rooibos. Some of the lesser known, and some may strange, types of herbal teas include olive leaf tea, pine needle tea, guava tea and lapacho bark tea.
The term ‘tisane’ is often used interchangeably with herbal tea. However a herbal tea may contain actual ‘real’ tea leaves, but it is mixed with herbs, or other parts of the plant. A ‘tisane’ on the other hand will never use ‘real’ tea leaves. It utilizes flowers, fruit, roots, and herbs from other plants, but never the Camellia Sinensis plant.
When you’re purchasing herbal tea you can buy it in two main forms. There is the more processed type inside a bag, or the less processed version where the flower, fruit, root etc. is kept more in its whole form. This second type will often have to be steeped in water for longer. You can enjoy herbal tea hot, cold or iced.
What Is The Caffeine Content Of Herbal Tea?
When asking the question of how is herbal tea different from regular tea, a good place to start is to look at the caffeine content. And the reason people often prefer herbal teas over regular tea is that it doesn’t contain caffeine. That is unless your herbal tea is actually a mixture of real tea leaves and then herbs, or other parts of the plant added to it.
Now there is one exception to what was just discussed above. And that is the herbal tea known as yerba mate. It is popular in South America and does contain caffeine. On average, a cup of yerba mate tea will contain about 70 – 85mg of caffeine.
You can buy decaffeinated tea, which uses real tea leaves, but it has had the caffeine removed. Green tea is one that is often sold as a decaffeinated version.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Herbal Tea?
The list of health benefits from herbal teas is as long as the actual list of teas themselves. From helping with sleep problems to cures for stomach ailments, it’s no wonder people often reach for a cup of herbal tea. If looking at how is herbal tea different from regular tea it would be fair to say that regular tea is generally not consumed for its health benefits (although, exceptions to this assumption could include matcha and other green teas, as well as Puerh and other regular teas which do have health benefits).
In general, many herbal teas are a great source of antioxidants, and may have cancer fighting properties. They can also help improve your immunity, lower cholesterol levels, help with heart disease and can have anti-inflammatory properties. Some people who are on weight-loss programs like to include herbal teas as part of their diet.
One of the most popular herbal teas, chamomile, is consumed by people for its relaxation properties. Chamomile can have a mild sedative effect which helps you to feel calm and relaxed. Peppermint tea, another popular herbal tea, is great if you have an upset stomach. It can also help with headaches and improving energy levels.
Scott is the founder of TeaMinded. He enjoys tasting and discovering teas from across the globe, with green teas and ceremonial matcha from Japan being among his favorites. He’s grateful to be immersed in the tea community, always learning and sharing along the journey.