Tea, Tisane, Herbal Tea – What’s the difference?
When you look at all the tea choices at the grocery store and especially when you shop for tea online, it’s pretty obvious how popular tea has become. But when you look at the labels of some of those teas you may see the terms herbal tea or tisane. Have you ever wondered what the difference was between tea, herbal tea and tisane?
Authentic tea is drawn from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. Authentic teas include black, oolong, green and white tea. The list may seem more elaborate because there are different forms of these teas and sometimes they are enhanced by adding various plants, spices or oils to them.
Flavored teas include Earl Grey, which is black tea with bergamot, and Jasmine, which is usually green tea with jasmine flowers. Other varieties of teas include Darjeeling and Ceylon, which are black teas and Gunpowder and Sencha, which are green teas. These, of course, are only a few of the different varieties available.
Herbal tea and tisane are one in the same. They are created from dried flowers, leaves or roots that aren’t from the Camellia sinensis shrub. It seems almost any flower or that is steeped in hot water is referred to as tea; although in some countries the label tea is legally restricted to drinks made with the true tea shrub.
Included in the list of common herbal teas is echinacea, peppermint and rooibos. This is just a short list of the readily available herbal teas.
The nice thing is that whether it’s a true tea or a tisane many “teas” seem to have health benefits. True teas, like green and black, have been included in more research studies and seem to provide the biggest health benefit, but herbal teas have proved beneficial as well.
The herbal tea that seems to be showing the most studied benefit seems to be rooibos. It has a high level of antioxidants, somewhat similar to green tea, but because it isn’t made with tea leaves it doesn’t contain the caffeine. In recent studies rooibos, also known as red tea, has shown liver protecting abilities as well.
From my own personal experience I can always count on peppermint tea to comfort a stomach ache. I have a friend who will make a mix of ginger, cinnamon and hibiscus to help her when she isn’t feeling well.
But I love the flavor of true teas, and all the reported health benefits provide a good reason to enjoy more of them. With all the varieties and different qualities available it’s a lot of fun to experiment and try finding your favorites.
Besides the question of tea or tisane you may also ask tea bag or loose leaf? Tea bags are great for convenience and the triangular tea bags are great for convenience with a little better flavor; but to truly enjoy the flavor a quality loose leaf tea is the best. The loose tea allows water to circulate around the leaves better to help draw out the flavor.
Besides its rich history and its health benefits tea is a tasty no-calorie beverage available in a wide range of flavors. It’s easy to understand why tea has become so popular.
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