10 Herbal Teas That Offer Remarkable Health Benefits

November 7, 2023

By Anna Varriano

With the cooler weather upon us, I find myself looking for soothing warm beverages, and since I’m not a coffee drinker, for me, this means enjoying a variety of herbal teas.

Herbal teas have been cherished for centuries for their various health benefits, soothing aromas, and delightful flavors. They are a natural and comforting way to promote well-being. Depending on your preference, they can be enjoyed hot or cold. In this blog, I share my 10 favourite herbal teas, in no particular order, as well as their main health boosting benefits, and finally, some important words of caution that you should be aware of.

#1 – Peppermint Tea

The main compounds in peppermint tea have antispasmodic effects. The term antispasmodic refers to a substance that relieves spasms of involuntary muscles, such as the ones that are found in our digestive tract. This is why peppermint tea is commonly used to calm digestive issues/irritations and to reduce bloating. Drinking a cup or two of peppermint tea, especially after meals, may help with digestion; however, for some people, peppermint tea may aggravate digestion, including causing heartburn. If you grow mint in your garden, here’s how you can reap its benefits, whether it’s fresh or dried.

#2 – Chamomile Tea

I have been drinking chamomile tea since I was a child. My parents are from Italy, and they always said that “camomilla guarisce migliaia”, which loosely translated means chamomile heals thousands of ailments. In our family, it was used to ‘calm everything down’, whether that was indigestion, nausea, PMS symptoms, or even anxiety and stress. We used it so much, my parents always had it growing in multiple areas of our flower and veggie gardens and would dry enough every fall to last us through to the next season. A couple of cups of chamomile in the evening is great for relaxation … unless drinking fluids in the evening makes you get up to urinate at night! One important caution regarding chamomile tea is that it should be avoided if you have ragweed allergies, which is something you may or may not know unless you’ve had a reaction to ragweed.

#3 – Ginger Tea

Ginger tea is one of my favourite teas to drink for no other reason than I love its taste and smell. Ginger tea has been used for thousands of years to calm nausea and indigestion. Ginger is also a great anti-inflammatory, immune system booster, and a general tonic for the female body. You can easily make ginger tea from fresh gingerroot. You’ll need about a one-inch piece of gingerroot that is about the thickness of your thumb per cup of water to make tea. Wash and/or peel it, slice it as thin as you can, put it in a pot with the water, bring to a boil, reduce to a gentle simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. The longer you simmer it, the stronger it will taste. Strain and serve. One common caution that I have often heard or read related to ginger tea is to avoid excessive consumption, especially when pregnant, as it may trigger contractions.

#4 – Turmeric Tea

Turmeric is best known for its powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. It is most commonly used to support joint health and boost the immune system. Many sources claim that drinking 1 to 2 cups a day is all you need to reap this tea’s anti-inflammatory benefits. A word of caution regarding turmeric tea (and turmeric in general), is that for some individuals, it may cause stomach discomfort, so start slow if you’ve never tried it before.

#5 – Passionflower Tea

Passionflower tea is commonly associated with easing insomnia, improving sleep quality, and promoting relaxation. Some studies suggest that it works by increasing a substance called GABA in the brain. GABA is a naturally occurring substance that calms down the nervous system. For sleep support, it is recommended to sip on a cup of passionflower tea right before bed.

#6 – Echinacea Tea

Echinacea has long been used to enhance immune system function. It has been associated with reducing the risk of catching the common cold or flu as well as reducing their severity and duration. It is often recommended to drink 2 to 3 cups daily if you have a cold or flu; however, echinacea in any form, should not be consumed for extended periods as it may weaken the immune response. Many sources say that it is most effective to start taking echinacea as soon as cold/flu symptoms start, then continuing with it for 7 to 10 days.

#7 – Hibiscus Tea

Hibiscus tea is commonly linked to lowering blood pressure and is used as a common remedy for mild cases of high blood pressure in many countries. A cup or two a day is plenty.  If you have blood pressure issues, it is important to monitor your blood pressure should you start to drink hibiscus tea. It should be avoided if you have low blood pressure or are pregnant.

#8 – Dandelion Root Tea

Dandelions (flowers, leaves, and roots) were another common part of my childhood. Dandelion tea is commonly associated with supporting liver health, which in turn, supports detoxification. Dandelion root tea also acts as a natural diuretic. A diuretic is any substance that makes your body ‘lose’ water, usually by increasing urination. For this reason, a cup or two a day is plenty, and if you have any potassium, fluid, or blood imbalances, use caution with this tea.

#9 – Lemon Balm Tea

This is another one of my favourite teas. It smells amazing! It has been studied for its positive effects on virtually every health condition you can think of. It is most commonly associated with having a ‘calming’ effect. A common recommended dose is 2 to 3 cups per day. Note that lemon balm tea may cause drowsiness, so it should not be consumed before any activities that require alertness.

#10 – Rooibos Tea

Another one of my favourites, as it seems that no matter how long you steep it, it never tastes bitter. Rooibos’ claim to fame is that it is rich in antioxidants, as is green tea; however, it is naturally caffeine-free and has lower tannin levels than regular black or green tea. Tannins are natural compounds that interfere with the absorption of certain nutrients, including iron. Rooibos tea has been studied for its cardiovascular benefits and has been linked to potential cancer prevention. Many sources state that to reap this tea’s maximum benefits, 2 to 4 cups should be consumed daily. It is generally considered safe, but many sources suggest consulting a healthcare professional if pregnant or breastfeeding.

Do You Take Your Tea With One Lump or Two … of Plastic?

A 2019 study from McGill University found that certain tea bags release microplastic and nanoplastic particles into the water they are steeped in. That means that you may be consuming billions of these tiny plastic particles while sipping on your soothing cup of tea! The tea bags identified were mostly the fancy ‘silken’ pyramid-shaped tea bags, but there are other culprits. The researchers then looked at the effects these tiny plastic particles had on water fleas, and while the little creatures survived, they started to show some anatomical and behavioural abnormalities. Could these tiny plastic particles also affect us humans? I’ll error on the side of caution and avoid ‘plastic’ tea bags, for my own health, and for the health of the environment. Look for plastic-free tea bags (here’s a list of 25 … although I’m sure there’s more) or use loose tea leaves.

Last Drops …

There are numerous herbal teas that provide a great array of health benefits, and like everything else related to nutrition, variety and moderation is key. In terms of moderation, many sources state that 2 to 4 cups a day of most types of herbal tea is safe; however, it’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional, especially if you have any underlying medical conditions, are pregnant, or are routinely drinking considerable amounts of particular herbal teas. With the right choices and caution, herbal teas can become a delightful addition to your daily routine, promoting overall health and well-being.

Always follow the instructions on the package to maximize the benefits and flavour of your tea. For instance, the ideal water temperature, steeping time, whether you should cover your cup/mug when steeping, etc.

Enjoy!

Images from Pixabay

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