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Herbal Tea - Tea Time for a Healthy Life?

Aug 17, 2007
Herbal teas have been around for thousands of years already but its rebirth in the Western world only happened in recent times. In Eastern countries however, the perceived powers of herbal tea has never waned and many Asians view drinking herbal tea as part of their regular routines.

What are Herbal Teas?
Also known as ptisans and tisanes, herbal teas are either fresh concoctions or packed tea bags produced from the extracted liquids of certain plants. Flowers and leaves are boiled in water. Roots and seeds can either be processed similarly or allowed to simmer on a stove. Herbal teas can also be sweetened if so desired.

Types of Herbal Teas

Persimmon - This herbal tea is often used as a health drink and a supplement of vitamin C. It is not however a good choice for drinkers who are intending to diet as well.

Raspberry - This is a popular flavor for teas and its commercialized version is sold in various establishments. Raspberry herbal tea is said to help in alleviating diarrhea.

Birch - There are several varieties of this particular herb, although all can be consumed safely. Birch herbal tea is usually drunk hot and may aid people suffering from headaches and rheumatic problems. It may also help in treating fever and reduce the painful symptoms of kidney problems. Lastly, birch herbal tea can be used for oral hygiene.

Blueberry - A popular ingredient in cakes, this herb can also be used for brewing tea although it possesses a slightly bitter taste. It's said to help people with kidney problems as well.

Sassafras - Drink this only for enjoyment. Although many people claim that it has blood-thinning properties and can help cure bronchitis, consult a doctor first before consuming it for medicinal purposes.

Tips on How to Brew Your Own Herbal Tea

Using Flowers and Leaves - Place the flowers or leaves inside a heated tea pot or jar then slowly pour boiling water. Replace the lid of the pot or jar to keep the mixture from evaporating and leave it untouched for fifteen minutes. Afterwards, uncover the container then strain. Each cup of water would require either 3 tsp. of freshly brewed herbs or 1 tsp. of dried herbs.

Using Seeds, Roots, or Stems - Cut roots and stems into tiny pieces and then grain them into powdery bits. Take 1 ounce of the concoction and pour it into a pot of water (approximately containing a pint) before boiling. Allow ten to twenty minutes to pass before straining once more. Add sugar if necessary.

Possible Concerns about Herbal Tea
Taking any herbal tea produced by any unlicensed manufacturer can lead to various complications. The following are possible dangers you might suffer from when consuming herbal tea that hasn't been declared safe by appropriate regulating bodies.

Containing Harmful Ingredients - There are several herbs that will increase rather than reduce the risks to your health. Comfrey, for instance, when consumed excessively can cause liver problems. Lobelia can be as addictive as smoking, while pineapple weed (and occasionally disguised as chamomile), may cause extreme reactions from individuals with certain allergies.

Misidentification of Herbs - In the above situation, there could be a deliberate attempt to mislead consumers about the efficacy and benefits of the company's herbal tea products. For homemade herbal tea however, an unintentional misidentification is when a problem arises. The comfrey, for instance, no matter how dangerous, is still comparatively safer than the foxglove, which is similar in appearance but infinitely more dangerous.

If you intend to brew your own herbal tea, make sure that you're using the right herbs and following instructions to the letter. Research about the properties of each ingredient to ensure that there's no possible harmful side effects.

Side Effects - Herbal tea can also have dangerous side effects when taken together with certain medications, vitamins, and food supplements. Thus, it's very important that you consult a doctor first before taking any herbal tea if you're already under medication.

Herbal tea may an ancient and long-standing custom for many, but this doesn't mean you can't partake of its benefits as well. Of course, research well and make sure that you're drinking a herbal tea product which has the seal of approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. If it does, however, then all we've to say is "kanpai" to your health!
About the Author
Lee Dobbins writes for http://tea.topicgiant.com where you can learn more about different kinds of tea including herbal tea.
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