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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 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 potentially enrich their 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 support 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

Important note: Below we’ve provided a list of herbs that we’ve used in the past. However, in addition to consulting with a trusted professional, you must do thorough research before attempting to use any of them yourself. We are not medical professionals and are not qualified to say how they may or may not affect your health. We are not offering this information in an attempt to give medical advice. While we enjoy opening people up to the world of herbs, and we do our best to provide valuable information, our information may be subject to error.

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. Many herbalists claim that hawthorn berries are thought to be one of the most powerful allies for heart support in the natural world, although we can’t say for certain. This alone makes it easy to see why Hawthorn is one of the most popular additions to herbal tea blends. 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 thought to be incredibly rich in vitamin C. If any of the above interests you, be sure to consult with a professional that you trust before trying.

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, although you should always be sure to consult an herbalist about any potential contradictions between herbs.

  • 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. Many Native American Tribes were also well aware of the supposed health benefits that came from making a decoction out of the roots. Dandelion roots are thought by herbalists to be supportive of digestive health and of liver health, although we can’t say for sure if it’s true.

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, although you should always be sure to consult an herbalist about any potential contradictions between herbs.

  • Earthy
  • Nutty
  • Sweet
  • Cooling

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Sarsaparilla Root

Many people are familiar with sarsaparilla as one of the key ingredients in “old fashioned” 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 is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties, although we don’t know for certain. It is also said to be a potential ally for those that suffer from skin issues, like flaking, but you should never attempt to use it for any condition without first checking with a professional to determine if it’s okay for you to do so.

The Flavor Profile of Sarsaparilla

Sarsaparilla is an herb that is worth adding to tea blends for flavor alone. It has a delightfully sweet taste that has hints of caramel, licorice, and vanilla. It would make an excellent addition to any dessert tea blend and works well when added to chai tea to balance out the spice, although you should always be sure to consult an herbalist about any potential contradictions between herbs.

  • Sweet
  • Warming
  • Soothing

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Holy Basil

Holy Basil is an herb that has been used for thousands of years in India. It’s a popular plant in the ayurvedic system of medicine. 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. Herbalists believe that holy basil may have adaptogenic properties. It has been reported to reduce stress, improve the ability to focus, and to reduce “brain fog”. If any of the above interests you, be sure to consult with a professional that you trust before trying.

*Holy Basil Can Effect Blood Sugar*

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 many herbs, although you should always be sure to consult an herbalist about any potential contradictions between herbs.

  • Crisp
  • Refreshing
  • Invigorating
  • Bright

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Skullcap

Skullcap is a calming, soothing herb often found in blends meant 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 is believed by herbalists to slow down racing thoughts and relieve tension throughout the body. Skullcap is also thought to potentially nourish the nervous system. People that suffer from migraines have also sometimes reported finding relief from the consumption of Skullcap. If any of the above interests you, be sure to consult with a professional that you trust before trying.

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, but you always speak with an herbalist before blending herbs to check for contradictions.

  • Earthy
  • Mild
  • Cool
  • Smooth

Bilberry

Bilberry is closely related to the blueberry plant. It boasts a number of supposed benefits, particularly regarding supporting the eyes. Some research indicates that people who regularly consume Bilberry may notice improvements to their vision, although more research is needed to determine the validity of this.  Bilberry is also reportedly rich in antioxidants. If any of the above interests you, be sure to consult with a professional that you trust before trying.

*Bilberry may affect blood sugar*

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. However, it is impossible to know for sure how each individual will respond to them. It is imperative to speak with a professional you trust before trying new herbs. If you are on medications or other supplements, it is crucial to research potential interactions before experimenting. Never attempt to go off of medications without help from a doctor.

Once you have made sure to take note of possible interactions, and have the go-ahead from your doctor, you can begin to experiment with the various flavor profiles of these potentially 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. Evie Carter says

    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?

    • Rhoot says

      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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