Within the world of tea, especially herbal tea, there are endless options to choose from. With seemingly unlimited plants and herbs in each category, this can become quite confusing.
In this article, we will discuss whether green tea is considered a herbal tea, and explore the differences between tea and herbal tea.
Is Green Tea Herbal?
No, green tea is not considered a herbal tea. This is because green tea comes from the tea plant, Camellia Sinensis, whereas herbal teas do not.
What is Herbal Tea?
Also referred to as a “tisane” (pronounced tea-zahn), herbal teas are an infusion made from a blend of plant matter. A herbal tea can be made from almost any type of plant, leaf, spice, berry, or flower.
What is Green Tea?
Green tea is one of the six “true tea” categories, made from Chinese, Assamese, or Cambodian Camellia Sinensis plants.
Green tea is typically grown in Asia, although other types of tea can be grown across Asia, Africa, South America, and around the Black and Caspian Seas.
Caffeine levels in green tea and herbal tea
Another main difference between green tea and herbal tea is that herbal tea is typically caffeine-free. As such, herbal tea can be a great alternative to green tea when consumed before bed.
There are many more differences between herbal tea and green tea, starting with their respective origins.
Origin of Herbal Tea
Herbal teas have a long history where they were initially consumed for their medicinal purposes.
For example, dried peppermint leaves have been found in Egyptian pyramids, which upon carbon dating were discovered to date back to 1,000 B.C. The Egyptians used these leaves to help aid memory problems, digestive issues, and stress.
Another popular herbal tea, Yerba maté, dates back to 3,000 B.C. in Argentina. Yerba maté is made from a native bushy shrub which is dried over a fire and steeped. It is one of the only caffeinated herbal teas.
Each herbal tea comes with its own origin, and every single country in the world has its own history surrounding this type of drink.
Origin of Green Tea
Unlike herbal tea, green tea only has one origin – and it begins in China in 2,737 B.C. The discovery of green tea is said to have occurred by accident, when the Chinese emperor Shen Nong stopped for a rest after a long walk with his army.
There, a servant began boiling water for the emperor, but in doing so, allowed a dead leaf from a wild tea bush to fall into the water. It was unnoticed and served to the emperor… who loved it!
From there, tea has grown in such popularity that it is now consumed in every corner of the world.
What Are the Most Popular Types of Herbal Tea?
There are many types of herbal teas – in fact, a herbal tea can be made from any edible plant on the planet! Some of the most popular types of herbal tea are:
- Leaf-based herbal tea: Leaf-based herbal teas such as lemongrass, mint, and echinacea are popular around the world. When preparing this type of herbal tea, you should pour the water at just below its boiling point, ideally around 200°F, to avoid scorching the more delicate leaves.
- Fruit/ berry-based herbal tea: These are caffeine-free blends of fruit, spices, and herbs, where no fruit is off the table! Natural flavorings such as cocoa and vanilla can bring balance to a fruit- or berry-based herbal tea.
- Spice-based herbal tea: Spices such as fennel, cardamom, and caraway are often considered to come with multiple health benefits, which many African and Latin American cultures have been utilizing for hundreds of years.
- Root-based herbal tea: Root-based herbal tea using ingredients such as ginger, turmeric root, and chicory pair exceptionally well with spice-based herbal teas. These are a great type of herbal tea for when you’re feeling under the weather or just fancy a pick-me-up, and again can usually be prepared with boiling water.
- Flower-based herbal tea: The most common ingredients found in flower-based herbal teas are rose, hibiscus, chamomile, and lavender. Similar to leaf-based herbal teas, you should steep the flowers in water just below boiling point.
- Toasted whole grain herbal tea: This type of herbal tea is popular across Latin America, with the most notable being agua de cebada. Their natural oils will be brought out in the toasting process, and they will then usually be sweetened with sugar or have lemon or lime juice added to taste.
What Are the Types of True Tea?
There is even more variation in “true tea” types in comparison to herbal tea types: but they all fit within six categories.
The six types of true tea are:
- Green tea
- White tea
- Yellow tea
- Oolong tea
- Black tea
- Dark tea/ pu’erh
Green tea is best when prepared with hot water around 160°F, whereas white, yellow, oolong, black, and dark teas can be prepared with anything between 135°F and 212°F.
Is Kombucha a Herbal Tea?
Whilst kombucha is often referred to as a herbal tea, it’s technically a SCOBY: a symbiotic colony of yeast and bacteria.
How to Make Herbal Tea
The majority of herbal tea is prepared as an infusion, where hot water is poured over the plant matter. The brewing times and proportions for this method vary widely: brewing time can be as short as one minute or as long as 20 minutes, and the amount used can be as little as a pinch per cup.
A general recipe for herbal tea is as follows:
- Rinse 10g of fresh plant matter
- Add to a saucepan, teapot, or French press
- Pour in boiling or almost-boiling water
- Let the blend steep for several minutes, depending on taste
Make sure to avoid preparing herbal tea in an aluminum pot as it’s a reactive metal which could react with the herb, potentially resulting in unhealthy toxins.
Along with that, ensure you always use the freshest ingredients possible to get the best antioxidants, essential oils, and general health benefits out of the brew.
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.