Herbal teas have been used for thousands of years. Infusing hot water with whole plants and extracts has long been seen as an effective way to harness the beneficial properties of plants.
However, they have become much than the sum of their ingredients. With herbal tea you get the perfect combination of herbal infusion with age-old ritual and routine. The simple and almost instinctive acts of preparing, making and sharing tea are often as beneficial as the tea itself.
Here we will introduce you to some of the best herbal tea ingredients. Some times these can be found as individual teas and sometimes they are included in blends. We will look at what makes them great and why you should get some right now.
What is so great about herbal tea?
Herbal tea is warm, relaxing and equally suited to sharing with a friend or serving at a dinner party. With the range of teas now readily available, whatever the situation there is probably a tea to suit it. They are also incredibly versatile and with a little creativity can be included in recipes, drunk cold over ice or even used to spice up a cocktail.
On top of this, the variety readily available has rapidly increased. Not only are there peppermint teas, green teas and chamomile teas, now there are new flavours and blends specially selected to give you a specific effect. There are revitalising teas, relaxing teas and even teas to help you focus.
The best herbal teas available in the UK
With so many options, herbal teas give you the luxury of matching different teas to different needs, situations or times of the day. We have divided our list into some of their main characteristics to make it easier for you to choose your own personal favourites.
Generally, all herbal teas are caffeine-free but we have chosen teas here that may work as a good caffeine-free alternative to a traditional tea.
Rooibos, or red bush tea, is a delicious caffeine-free herbal tea that will give you much of what people look for in a tea. Well-loved throughout the world it is low in tannins and is a good source of antioxidants. It has been linked to a reduction in the symptoms of type 2 diabetes, blood pressure and the risk of cancer.
A good alternative to your standard cuppa must work well as a morning revitalising drink as well as a source of comfort and evening relaxation. Chamomile delivers this in spades.
It can be drunk with sugar, milk or plant based alternatives, but tastes equally great on its own or with a dash of lemon juice. Made from dried chamomile flowers it has been linked to reduced menstrual cramp pain, reducing inflammation and improved sleep and relaxation.
Best tasting herbal teas
Herbal teas are often criticised for flavours that don’t match the beautiful intense aromas. While this can be true, if you get good quality herbal blends you can get some incredibly clear and intense flavour. However, here we have chosen teas that have simple, intense and classic flavours. Their taste also lends them to be used to add subtle flavours to cooking and baking.
A classic herbal tea and one of the most well-known, peppermint tea has a clean flavour that tastes exactly as you’d expect. While you can get much more adventurously flavoured teas this is hard to beat when you want to relax with a great tasting tea. It can also ease your digestion, reduce nausea and relax you ready for sleep.
If peppermint is a little too middle of the road for you, there are several similar flavours available such as spearmint and buttermint. Buttermint is a refreshing minty tea reminiscent of Werther’s Originals.
A fantastic tea that highlights the fruity and peppery notes of ginger. This one can be bought ready to go or made at home by infusing ginger root slices into hot water. Great for settling your stomach or just for when you need something zingy. It may have antibiotic properties and is great mixed with honey or lemon to soothe a sore throat.
Buy three ginger, organic herbal tea from Pukka
Best looking herbal teas
A side of herbal teas that some may not be aware of is just how beautiful they can be. When made with whole ingredients in a glass cup they can be made to look incredibly attractive. When whole ingredients are used, the presentation is often matched by the flavour.
A beautifully fragrant yet simple tea made from dried whole rosebuds. Best served in a glass cup so that you can see the rosebuds in the water. Often used as a cleansing tea it has been linked to reduced menstrual cramps and is used by some to fight depression. From its flavour and stunning appearance this an incredible feelgood tea that is great when you need a quick pick me up or want to impress your friends.
Blooming flower teas
These are teas that are specifically designed to look as incredible as they taste. Beautifully prepared flower and leaf teas that open and bloom as you add the water. A range of flavours and ingredients are available and they all look equally as stunning.
Buy a flowering tea sample kit with 10 different blooming teas from the Exotic Teapot
Ocean tea bags
Another incredible innovation, these lovingly crafted teabags are made in Japan and contain high-quality tea. The bags are designed to resemble sea creatures and animals. As you add the water they move gently, giving the impression that they are alive.
The attention to detail is beyond belief, they are carefully folded to make them completely 3D and the tea inside is chosen to complement the design. For example, the squid contains black tea to give the impression of squid ink.
These are guaranteed to have you staring into your cup and refusing to drink it until the very last minute. Sold in japan they can be shipped to the UK but will incur shipping costs. They may just be worth it though.
Herbal teas with the most benefits
Lemon balm tea
This is a sweet lemon-scented tea which is great when you want a milder citrus flavour. It’s thought to have potential benefits for Alzheimer’s patients and may improve memory and recall. It is also used for relaxation and to soothe the digestive system.
An incredibly useful tea, echinacea has been linked to a huge range of benefits. It is used to reduce the duration of flu symptoms, control blood sugar levels, act as an antioxidant and it may even have potential in reducing the risk of breast cancer.
Herbal teas are an incredible source of health, entertainment and immense satisfaction. Whenever you are in need of a health boost there may well be a blend for you. Caffeine-free, low in calories, tasting great and even looking stunning, what’s not to love.