There are many types of herbal tea, ranging from fruit extracts to plants and more, yet so many consumers seem to think that they are consuming just one type. We get a lot of questions along the lines of, “Does herbal tea have caffeine in it?” suggesting that a large percentage of the public don’t quite understand just what goes into this product and just how varied it can be.
The retailers and manufacturers are to blame for that as there is a trend for marketing teas as “herbal tea” instead of actually naming them after the extracts or compounds they contain. So, to dispel some of the myths about these teas and to clear up some of the confusion, take a look at this guide to herbal tea.
Does Herbal Tea Have Caffeine?
Most herbal teas do not have caffeine, but this is an umbrella term that is used to define many different teas, so it’s hard to say for certain. The good news for anyone sensitive to this drug is that as soon as you venture away from camellia sinensis—the shrub from which we get black, green and white tea—then caffeine is pretty rare. The bad news is that many herbal teas contain white or green tea as a base, which means they will contain caffeine.
For herbal teas that taste great, are very good for you and are naturally caffeine free, try Rooibos, which is also known as “Red Tea”; Sideritis, which goes by the name Greek Mountain Tea; Linden Tea, which is a rare find but makes for a great tea if you can find it; and hibiscus. You can also simply drink fruit teas. These use dried fruits and herbs to create a drink that tastes great and provides some trace minerals, but don’t really offer a huge number of health benefits.
Herbal Tea and Pregnancy: Is it Safe?
It’s a question we see a lot: is herbal tea safe during pregnancy? The truth is not really that straightforward because there are many different types of herbal tea. There is no definitive answer here and the best we can offer is, “Probably, at least for most of them”. You have to consider that some teas will have caffeine, some will interact with medications you might be taking to help with sickness or other symptoms and some will not have undergone the requested testing.
A lot of the time products that carry, “Not suitable for pregnant women” are untested, as opposed to downright dangerous. When no one can say for sure that it’s not harmful then they have to display warnings like this. And when you consider how fragile a pregnant woman and their unborn child can be, it only makes sense.
To determine whether or not a particular tea is safe to consume when pregnant, just take a look at the ingredients and Google each of them. Unless, of course, the product makes such a declaration itself, in which case you will have the answer that you need.
Herbal Tea Recipes: Make Your Own (Top Tips)
Making your own herbal tea is quite easy. You can turn anything into tea, you just need a little imagination. If you use a base of green, black, white or red tea then you can create a flavored tea of your choosing, and the more of that base you use, the harder it is to get a herbal tea recipe like this wrong.
For something a little more imaginative, try mixing dried fruits and edible flowers. Strong flavors like blueberry, ginger and orange peel all work well and can be mixed with everything from herbs like mint to sprinkles of chili flakes and shavings of dark chocolate in order to bring them to life.
Herbal Tea for Sleep: What Works and What Doesn’t
Let’s be honest: nothing that is side-effect free, available over the counter and often found in herbal teas is going to be as effective as a sleeping tablet. There are teas that can relax you and if you don’t have any major issues with insomnia then they might be able to help you through a difficult period of sleeplessness, but they won’t sedate you quite like the commercials and packaging suggest.
It’s still worth a try though, because if you find a tea that is able to lull you into sleep then you’re onto a winner. Try the following teas and extracts, along or in combination, to aid with a restful sleep:
- Chamomile: The best chamomile is are made from only the flowers of the plant and have not been sitting around in dusty warehouses for years. It should produce a straw-like golden color and a fragrant, slightly sweet taste and it should produce feelings of calm. If you buy cheap teabags you might be getting old chamomile dust, so pay more to get the best.
- Lavender: The oils of the lavender plant are where the magic is. They can promote relaxation and in combination with teas like chamomile may be the perfect tonic for insomnia.
- Rooibos: If you’re hooked on caffeine then swap your evening black/green/white tea for a cup of Rooibos instead. It’ll give you a similar taste, but without any caffeine. You’ll get the taste you crave, but you won’t get the caffeine and if you’re addicted to the stuff then those few hours of deprivation could be enough to make you tired by nighttime.
- Valerian: It tastes terrible, but it works much like chamomile does. It is often consumed in tablet or tincture form, but it can also be consumed as a tea, providing you can stomach it.
Is Herbal Tea a Diuretic?
If it contains licorice, dandelion root, hawthorn, hibiscus and/or horsetail, then there’s a good chance that the herbal tea you’re drinking was created as a natural diuretic. This means that it’s sole purpose is to flush excess water out of your body. These teas are great if you’re feeling bloated after days or weeks of excess, but they are occasionally marketed as weight-loss teas, which is somewhat dubious.
Is Herbal Tea Organic?
Many teas are organic these days, but there are a small percentage that are not. We’ve spoken with many manufacturers in our time and there has definitely been a shift towards organic teas. They are telling us that there is no longer a huge difference in price between organic and non-organic and because consumers are more aware than ever, it’s a no-brainer to opt for the pesticide free versions.
However, there are some cheaper teas for which this might not apply. This is especially true for cheap herbal teas that contain fruit extracts, as produce is not quite as resilient as the plants used to make most tea. But this information is usually clearly listed.
To make sure you’re always buying organic and that you’re always getting a product that is ethically sourced and made with care, just focus on brands like TeaPigs and other emerging stars of this industry. They are growing all of the time, but they still seem to operate like small, independent and morally capable businesses.