Winter is an ideal time to brew up a warming herbal tea. Not only are herbal teas a great alternative to coffee or caffeinated teas, but they’re infused with healthy properties that can support our health and wellbeing.
Tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world, after water1. However, herbal teas aren’t actually made from tea, which is a specific kind of plant. A more accurate description is the French word ‘tisane’, that describes the herbal infusion of leaves, seeds, roots or bark extracted in hot water.
The tangy citron flavour that comes from lemongrass is often used in cooking, particularly in curries and stir-fries. The active ingredient—citral—is also found in lemon peel and has been found to aid digestion, improve blood circulation and help support liver function. Research also suggests it may help kill certain cancer cells.
Green tea is a potent source of antioxidants which can help protect the body from cell damage caused by ageing. According to research, it may also help to reduce the level of LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol, as well as reduce the risk of heart disease.
Chai tea is a powerful blend of tea, herbs and spices that has been used in India for centuries to maintain health and wellbeing. It contains a range of ingredients such as black tea, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, fennel, clove and black pepper.
The antioxidants and phytochemicals found in chai may support our immune system, fight inflammation, improve digestion and provide antioxidant and antibacterial effects. Remember to stick with traditional blends rather than powder or syrup versions which can be high in sugar.
A study assessing the benefits of peppermint tea found that it contains antimicrobial and antiviral properties, which can help aid digestion as well as soothe irritable bowel syndrome, nausea and other stomach-related ailments by calming the abdominal muscles and improving the flow of bile.
A University of Sydney study has found that ginger may help diabetics manage blood sugar levels as well as reduce pain and inflammation. Traditionally, it has also been used to treat nausea and vomiting.
The small golden buds of chamomile contain an amino acid that acts as a relaxant to help promote sleep. Along with its calming and soothing properties, chamomile may also help to ease symptoms of anxiety.
Do you enjoy herbal teas? What are your favourite blends?
 McKay DL, Blumberg JB. The role of tea in human health: an update. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2002; 21(1): 1-13.