Herbal Teas - Common Ingredients and Their Benefits

Posted by Thea Williams on

For centuries, herbal teas have been used for medicinal purposes as well as providing a warm and loving hug to the drinker.

You may have wondered why your favourite tea blend provides a sense of calm, or happiness when you take a sip, and it's all thanks to a non-dietary amino acid called L-theanine that is found within black and green tea leaves.

L-theanine encourages dopamine levels within the body. This helps to relieve stress and affects the brain-wave patterns to raise alpha-frequency waves that  cultivate a calm state. 

Before creating or purchasing a new tea blend, you should always research the ingredients. Check for any interactions they might have with medications you are taking or allergies you may have.

We have collated some common components of herbal teas and their benefits below.

Chamomile

Most are introduced to this herb in a form of tea, commonly passed down through ancestral lines to help with calmness and sleep. Chamomile comes from the Asteraceae family with Roman chamomile (Chamarmelum nobile) and German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) being the most popular variations used.

Chamomile tea is often used for anti-anxiety, its sedative effect and the promotion of relaxation in general. It is very important to note that pregnant women should not consume chamomile, as it can trigger uterine contractions.

Ginger

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a popular spice, often added to herbal teas in South and East Asia. It’s roots and leaves can be used in tea and is often praised in ancient Chinese medicines and Ayurveda. Ginger is an excellent antioxidant and contains antibacterial properties which can assist when you are feeling unwell, have an upset stomach and aids digestion. 


Lavender

If you have ever wanted a herb associated with serenity, relaxation and calm - lavender is it! Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is great for addressing everyday stresses. Not only is this herb an excellent addition to any garden, the herb is quite versatile. Try adding a pinch of lavender to your tea, or add it to a dried herbal blend and store it in an airtight container away from sunlight.

Lemon Balm

If you love a flavour that is delicate and lemony, then Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) is for you. Lemon Balm has relaxing properties that help to soothe headaches, calm anxiety and treat insomnia. An added benefit is that it also has anti-viral properties, which is great when you are feeling unwell.


Lemon Verbena

Not to be confused with Lemon Balm, Lemon Verbena (Aloysia citriodora, or Lippia citriodora) is a fresh and lemony flavour that when added to herbal teas helps to promote a restful sleep, works as an anti-inflammatory, improves digestion and can ease stress. 


Mint

Mint (Mentha) is another versatile herb that can be easily grown in your garden. Whilst there are many types of mint, Peppermint and Spearmint are the most well known and a popular herb added to teas.  By adding mint to your herbal tea it can help with digestive issues, stimulate the appetite and reduce flatulence. 


Passion Flower

Passion Flower (Passiflora spp.) has a mild yet fresh taste to it. It's a great addition to herbal teas as it provides analgesic properties that help to calm nerve pain. It also combats anxiety, panic, insomnia and depression. Unfortunately pregnant women should avoid this herb as it can stimulate uterine contractions.


Vervain

Yes, that herb from The Vampire Diaries actually exists. Vervain (Verbena officinalis) is quite bitter tasting, but packs a punch. It possesses anti-anxiety and relaxant effects on the body, whilst it's also a strong antioxidant. Try this one mixed with some lemon and honey (or a vegan substitute) to sweeten the taste.


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Image by Marco Secchi ~ www.marcosecchi.com

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