10 Healing Herbs Used in Teas
Far from just a mundane alternative to caffeinated brews, herbal teas (or tisane), like the popular jasmine or chamomile, each offer unique health benefits. Often made from a blend of various natural ingredients, such as dried leaves, seeds, grasses, barks and flowers, these herbal infusions are steeped in powerful curative properties that range from an ability to aid indigestion to promoting relaxation.
Chamomile is a flower long loved for its soothing, calming and sleep-inducing qualities. The petals of the plant are the active ingredient—and are most often combined with other soothing herbs like valerian and hops to create the blends meant to lull you into relaxation, such as Peach-Chamomile or Celestial Seasonings’ Sleepytime.
The citrusy tang that comes from the lemongrass plant is favored in cooking as well as tea. Lemongrass teas are often served as an after-dinner drink to aid digestion—primarily due to a substance called citral, also the active ingredient in lemon peels. Though typically enjoyed unaccompanied by other herbs, it can also be blended to create lemon-flavored teas like Lemon Zinger.
Jasminum sambac—a species of the genus Jasmine (a shrub or vine in the olive family)—is the flower featured in tea blends. Unlike other herbs, jasmine is most loved for its robust fragrance rather than its health value. Typically, the oils from the petals of the flower are combined with a green tea or roobios tea to create the steaming concoction we enjoy.
Often peppermint tea is either a mixture of black or green tea with peppermint leaves, or a simple peppermint tisane (sometimes referred to as mint tea). It’s believed that the menthol-containing leaves help soothe irritable bowel syndrome, nausea and other stomach-related ailments by calming the abdominal muscles and improving the flow of bile, which aids in digestion. Peppermint is also said to cure minor cases of bad breath.
There is much debate over whether echinacea really prevents or cures the common cold. But it's widely acknowledged as a powerful herb that contains active substances that enhance the activity of the immune system, relieve pain, reduce inflammation and have antioxidant effects. The tea is prepared by infusing with hot water the leaves and flowers of the uppermost part of the plant—the section believed to contain polysaccharides (a substance known to trigger the activity of the immune system).
Rosehips are the seed-filled red-orange pods that form at the base of the rose bloom. When boiled with water, they produce tea with a tangy, tart flavor and pinkish color. Notable for its high concentration of vitamin C, the herb is valued for its immune-strengthening properties (some consider it superior to most vitamin C supplements). Any tea with a berry or fruit flavor typically contains rosehips.
Picked, dried in the sun and infused with boiling water, blackberry leaves are the essence of most berry-flavored teas. Studies suggest that the leaves contain a healthy dose of flavonoids, which are known for their antioxidant activity.
Hibiscus—better known to us as the “zinger” in teas such as Celestial Seasonings’ Red Zinger, Berry Zinger and Lemon Zinger—is an herb favored for its tangy flavor and known health value as a natural diuretic.
The zest of an orange peel is often the basis of orange, clementine, honey and tangerine teas. It may be unpleasant to eat in its natural state, but when dried and infused with boiling water, the peel produces a strong, aromatic flavor and is known for its immune system–boosting properties.
The leaves, flowers and berries of the hawthorn plant are used in a variety of peach- and berry-flavored teas. The plant is believed to contain flavonoid-like complexes that help improve cardiovascular health by helping to relax and dilate blood vessels, which increases blood circulation and lessens stress on the heart. Hawthorn berries are also believed to relieve water retention by draining the body of excess salt