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6 Herbs to add to Tea

6 herbs to add to tea

The word tea has come to mean many things to many people. There are “true” teas, which are those derived from the camellia sinensis plant, and blended teas which are made from various herbs and plants for both flavor and health purposes. Many blends on the market include camellia sinensis alongside other plants, while some mixes do not have any camellia sinensis in them at all, and are strictly comprised of medicinal and flavorful herbs. Herbal tea blends are an excellent choice for people who are looking for a way to customize the flavor and effect that they get with each cup. In this article, we will be discussing 6 herbs to add to tea for those that are looking to freshen up their cups with new flavors and to enrich their health and wellbeing.

The History of Tea

Tea drinking has an incredibly interesting history that is rich with folklore, myth, and tradition. It is believed in Chinese culture that the first cup of tea was consumed in 2737 B.C.E. Legend has it that the emperor of the time, Shen Nong, was boiling water when a leaf from a nearby tree came floating down from above and landed in the pot. He felt compelled to drink the infused water, and when he did, he enjoyed it so much that he decided to do more research about the mysterious leaf that had made the refreshing beverage.

Indian myth gives credit to a prince that lived in the year 520 AD. The prince’s name was Bodhidharma, and he was the founder of Zen Buddhism. Legend has it that Bodhidharma left India and traveled to China to preach about his new religion. It is said that when he arrived there, he vowed to spend nine years without sleep, meditating instead to prove a point about the powers of meditation. Toward the end of the nine-year period Bodhidharma ended up drifting into sleep, and upon waking up, he became so distraught over not making it the full nine years that he cut off his eyelids to repent. According to myth, the first tea tree grew in the spot that Bodhidharma’s eyelids landed as a result of the sacrifice.

Despite the numerous legends and tales surrounding the discovery of tea, it is impossible to know for sure where the first cups were consumed. However, anthropologists agree that the consumption of authentic tea derived from the Camellia Sinensis plant did indeed originate in the regions surrounding China, Tibet, and India.

Herbal Blends are Another Story

Herbs were used to make infusions in water for health and flavor in just about every culture across the globe since ancient times. Each country had its own unique relationship with herbs, and which ones used mainly depended on what grew in the local climate of each culture. For this reason, the history of herbal tea could be an article (or book) in and of itself. There are hundreds of herbs that have been blended and steeped to make infusions over the years, each with its own backstory, lore, and purpose. Luckily, in modern times we have access to just about every herb imaginable thanks to the internet. This convenience allows tea drinkers to explore which herbs best suit their needs and fit their flavor preferences.

6 Herbs to add to Tea

Hawthorn Berries

Hawthorn trees grow all over the world. People often plant them for ornamental purposes, but the bright red berries that these trees produce do much more than look pretty. The berries produced by the Hawthorn tree are one of the most powerful plant allies for heart health ever to have been discovered in the natural world. This alone makes it easy to see why Hawthorn is one of the best 6 herbs to add to tea. Hawthorn has been used for centuries to support cardiovascular function. The berries have been proven to reduce high cholesterol, improve the circulation of blood flow throughout the body, and to steady irregular heartbeats. Many people also claim that Hawthorn berries can soothe emotional pain and grief that is related to matters of heartache and emotional distress. The berries from the Hawthorn tree are also incredibly rich in vitamin C, which makes them great for the immune system and an excellent choice for tea during cold and flu season.

Flavor Profile of Hawthorn

Hawthorn berries pack a sweet and tart punch that gives a refreshing flavor to tea blends. They blend very well with teas and herbs that are otherwise neutral in flavor. They also pair well with citrus and would taste great with something like lemon balm.

  • Astringent
  • Tangy
  • Sweet
  • Refreshing

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Dandelion Root

In recent times people have begun to reacquaint themselves with the power that lays nestled within the roots of the dandelion plant. The first written record of the use of dandelion root was way back in the year 659 B.C.E. The indigenous people in the United States were also well aware of the health benefits that came from making a decoction out of the roots of the dandelion plant. If you notice this plant growing in your yard, you may want to start harvesting them instead of spraying them. Dandelion roots are excellent for digestive health as well as for liver health. Dandelion roots help to regulate appetite, calm gastrointestinal upset and improve liver function – which in turn assists the body with processing out toxins. In traditional Chinese medicine, dandelion is used to reduce irritation and calm people suffering from agitation.

Flavor Profile of Dandelion Root

When Dandelion root is roasted, it takes on a wonderful flavor that is incredibly similar to coffee. The taste is so similar that people often use roasted dandelion root to make herbal “lattes.” Dandelion root blends well with otherwise pungent herbs and brings balance to the flavor profile.

  • Earthy
  • Nutty
  • Sweet
  • Cooling

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Sarsaparilla Root

Many people are familiar with sarsaparilla as one of the key ingredients in root beer. However, root beer does not do sarsaparilla the same justice as an adequately prepared tea blend made with the root of the plant. When consumed in tea, Sarsaparilla root acts as a potent anti-inflammatory. It is an excellent choice for those that suffer from chronic pain caused by conditions such as arthritis. In addition to being useful for pain, it is also a powerful ally for those that suffer from inflammatory skin conditions such as psoriasis. This is thanks to a compound called sarsaponin, which is hypothesized to be responsible for reducing the occurrence and severity of lesions caused by the condition.

The Flavor Profile of Sarsaparilla

Sarsaparilla is an herb that is worth adding to tea blends for flavor alone, even if the benefits mentioned above do not interest you. It has a delightfully sweet taste that has hints of caramel, licorice, and vanilla. It would make an excellent addition to any desert tea blend and works well when added to chai tea to balance out the spice.

  • Sweet
  • Warming
  • Soothing

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Holy Basil

Holy Basil is an herb that has been used for thousands of years in India. In Ayurvedic medicine, it is thought to be a staple for health and wellbeing. This herb and its benefits are so revered in Hindu culture that people dedicate entire alters to the plant to worship and give thanks. Holy basil is also sometimes referred to as Tulsi. Scientists have found that this herb has adaptogenic properties. Adaptogens work with our bodies to restore balance where we need it the most. There are many adaptogenic herbs out there, all with slightly different effects. Holy basil is one of the best adaptogenic herbs for reducing stress and improving mental wellbeing. It has been known to reduce anxiety, improve the ability to focus, and to reduce brain fog.

The Flavor Profile of Holy Basil

Holy basil has a refreshing taste that makes a great iced drink in the warm months. It is also very soothing when served warm in the fall and winter. It is similar in flavor to common basil, but a bit lighter and brighter tasting. It combines well with floral blends and pairs excellently with rose petals.

  • Crisp
  • Refreshing
  • Invigorating
  • Bright

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Skullcap

Skullcap is a calming, soothing herb that makes an excellent addition to blends that are designed to promote sleep and relaxation. It is a member of the mint family that grows wild across the northeast portion of the United States. It has been widely used to calm the mind and restore balance during times of stress. It slows down racing thoughts and reduces tension throughout the body. Skullcap is a nutritive herb that works well to repair the nervous system as well as the adrenal glands. It is a great choice to add to tea for those that struggle with chronic stress, or for those who need help unwinding before bed. People that suffer from migraines have also reported finding relief from the consumption of Skullcap, and it is widely used by herbalists that are working with people who suffer from them.

The Flavor Profile of Skullcap

Skullcap is a neutral tasting herb that has mild earthy notes. It is light in flavor and easy to drink. Its mellow taste makes it an excellent base for adding other herbs that have more noticeable flavor, such as lemongrass or ginger.

  • Earthy
  • Mild
  • Cool
  • Smooth

Bilberry

Bilberry is closely related to the blueberry plant. It boasts a number of health benefits, but the one that it is most known for is its ability to improve eye health. Studies have shown that people who regularly consume Bilberry noticed improvements with their eyesight and ability to see in low-light conditions. Both the fruit of the plant and the leaf can be used in the preparation of tea. Bilberry is also rich in antioxidants and works wonders when it comes to improving the bodies ability to fight off free radicals. Bilberry has been found to contain phenolic compounds, which are thought to assist with removing heavy metals from the body. Studies have shown that bilberry may also be useful for people who are trying to reduce their blood sugar. It is truly a superfood, and adding it to your tea blend is one of the easiest ways to pack in the benefits.

The Flavor Profile of Bilberry

Dried Bilberries add a fruity, tart taste to the teas that they are blended with. They are very similar to blueberries but tend to pack a little more punch in the flavor department. Bilberry makes an excellent tea on its own, but it also blends beautifully with green tea.

  • Fruity
  • Tangy
  • Sweet
  • Zesty

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These 6 Herbs to Add to Tea are Just the Beginning

The plant kingdom is vast, and there are many herbs worth experimenting with when it comes to blending tea. The 6 herbs to add to tea listed in this article are just the beginning. The herbs mentioned here offer a good starting point when it comes to striking a balance between good flavor and health benefits. While the herbs discussed here taste good, and are useful for promoting wellbeing in a wide variety of ways, it is vital that you are not using them as a replacement for your medication that you may be on without consulting with a healthcare professional. Abruptly stopping medications can be dangerous and even deadly. The herbs listed in this article are gentle, beginner friendly, and unlikely to have adverse interactions, but it is impossible to know for sure how each individual will respond. If you are on medications or other supplements, it is crucial to research potential interactions before experimenting. Once you have made sure to take note of possible interactions, you can begin to experiment with the various flavor profiles and health benefits of these beneficial and tasty herbs!

 

Did you enjoy “6 Herbs to Add to Tea”? Read about Rhoot’s experience with licorice root and passion flower in tea

passion flower

Want to purchase some of the herbs listed in this “6 Herbs to Add to Tea”?

I’ve picked some out on Starwest Botanicals for easy shopping. I have used this bulk herb seller for many years and they provide wonderful products! These are all Starwest Botanical affiliate links. If you want to shop on your own, Mountain Rose Herbs has a wonderful selection and is also one of my favorite retailers. You’ll find many herbs from different sellers on Amazon as well.

Comments

  1. I’ve never tried adding herbs to my tea but I’m definitely thinking about it. I’m curious though as to how would you know which herb/s fit well with which tea. I’ve notice that green, black and even chamomile have different flavors. Do the herbs clash with some of them?

    • Hi Evie! Thank you for your question! I will be elaborating on this in a future post. I will be sure to send it your way. For now, start with a base. If you are drinking black tea regularly, you can simply start with that as a base. Then think of flavors or herbs with benefits you think you might like to play around with. I like orange peel and hibiscus as I tend to like a fruity flavor in my teas. I found a really nice page with more guidance on this for you. https://blendbee.com/make-your-own-tea-blend/ This site has a great explanation and tells you what flavors to expect from many commonly used herbs. Enjoy!

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