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Fine Herbal Blends Loose Leaf Tea

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By David Stewart

Technically, 'tea' comes from the Camillia sinensis plant and is either white, green, oolong, or black. However, the popular name has come to mean any infusion of plant leaves chosen for flavor, aroma, and health benefits. Many herbal blends loose leaf tea products are commercially available today, and, of course, you can make your own right out of the garden.

One reason for using true teas is for the caffeine, which millions of people crave in their morning coffee. Only the black or fermented teas have a significant amount of this stimulant, but there are many herbal blends for morning wake-up or afternoon refreshment. In the evening, instead of having decaffeinated coffee, you might try a cup of chamomile or lemon balm tea. There are other calming herbs, so find your favorite flavor.

Herbal 'teas' are also called 'tisanes'. As with the Camillia teas, the leaves of herbs are steeped in hot water to extract their valuable properties. In addition, roots and blossoms of beneficial, flavorful, and aromatic plants are used in various combinations. For example, ginger or licorice root may be combined with spices, mint, or fruit to create unique brews.

The true teas can be blended with herbs, fruits, spices, and other plant material to take advantage of the healthful properties of each of them. A great morning cup can be made with black tea, orange, and cinnamon. A energizing afternoon pick-me-up could use black tea, gotu kola leaves, and lemon. The stimulants will help keep you alert and active. If you are slimming, substitute green tea for the black.

At night, when many need to avoid caffeine, a combination of soothing herbs can be just the thing. Passion flower, lemon balm, chamomile, hops, and kava kava are all calming. You could add ginger, which enhances digestion and is especially valuable after dinner. Ginger is also warming on a cold winter night.

Are you accustomed to buying your herbs in tea bags? Many tea lovers prefer the loose leaves. They say that loose leaf blends are fresher, are made of larger pieces of leaf, root, and blossom to retain more of the valuable nutrients, and are more aromatic and full of taste. More of the essential oils are retained, while the antioxidants and polyphenols that boost our health retain their potency.

Boxes or tins of loose leaf teas are often a better bargain than teabags, too. Compare the weights of a box of bags and a container of leaves and you will see. Some also say that if you brew a cup of leaves (or a blend of various plant parts) and drain off the water, you can re-infuse the dregs with boiling water later for another delicious cup. Since a conventional teabag may inhibit the flow of water to its contents, trying to re-use a teabag will not be as successful.

The science of tea is fascinating. Centuries of users have developed a real mystique in almost every culture. Go online to see what skilled teamasters have created for your enjoyment.

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