What is tea?
Well, if you browse the tea aisle of a grocery store, you’ll find peppermint tea, ginger tea, green tea, black tea, “herbal tea,” and all kinds of blends. But despite its global popularity and its incredibly diverse (and mouth-watering) varieties, there many important distinctions when it comes to tea.
Tea is made by steeping leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant to produce a super healthy and delicious drink. These leaves are then processed or dried to varying degrees to create the four main categories of tea — green, black, white, and oolong.
But if it doesn’t come from the Camellia sinensis plant, guess what?
It’s not tea.
Herbal “teas” — which are actually called “blends” or “tisanes” — are any beverage that steeps boiled water over herbs including leaves, flowers, roots, barks, or even sticks. (Many of these, in fact, have been used as medicine for generations.)
Today, we’ll break down the key differences to help you become a tea expert in no time!
The Advantages of Camellia Sinensis
Drinking tea is a fantastic way to help your mind and body relax after a stressful day AND it’s also a terrific way to improve health — and green, black, oolong, and white teas all have their unique benefits.
Black tea, for example, has antioxidants (known as polyphenols) that can be incredibly helpful. It might also lower your risk of Parkinson’s disease, kidney stones, and even high blood pressure.
Green tea also has tremendous antioxidant properties and has been associated with reducing the risk of several cancers. (For the definitive list of all the scientifically suggested health benefits of green tea, check out this article.)
White tea offers other benefits as well. For example, there is evidence to suggest it could help prevent tooth decay. And, if you are into skincare, you might want to add white tea to your daily routine as it is believed to help maintain healthy, youthful-looking skin.
Finally, oolong tea has become a popular tea because of its subtle, rich flavor. Like white tea, oolong tea offers skincare perks like helping with rashes. It also has a reputation for helping with weight loss and is called the “Taiwanese woman’s secret to weight loss.”
Herbal Teas Are Also Beneficial
When it comes to “healthy” and “good-for-you” drinks, don’t forget about tisanes! Herbs like peppermint, ginger, chamomile, and nettles have long histories of aiding the human body with digestion, low energy, or relaxation.
Honeybush and Rooibos are two herbal blends that are derived from African plants and offer many health benefits. Better still, if you have trouble with caffeine, then you’ll be happy to know that they’re both caffeine-free (which makes it a perfect drink before bedtime).
Rooibos has no additives, colorants, flavorants, or preservatives. It also boasts an amazing 50 times the amount of antioxidants of green tea and is a natural source of vitamins and minerals including vitamin C and zinc. These properties help make Rooibos tea an excellent alternative to orange juice when battling a cold.
Like a real tea, Honeybush has antioxidant properties, too. It can help control stomach distress and supports energy levels. Also, Honeybush — which get its name from its natural sweet honey taste — can be enjoyed without sugar and can be served iced for a refreshing treat.
Whether your drink of choice is a true tea (from the Camellia sinensis plant) or a tisane (derived from steeping herbs, flowers, twigs, or bark), drinking a delicious cup will help you feel incredible.
Your body, mind, and soul will thank you.