Do you know the difference between herbal teas and teas? Can you also know which is the better between the two? If the answer is “no”, you are in the right place! Here we will explain what differentiates the two types of infusions and what each is used for. Both being great helpers to good health, discover the secrets and benefits of each.
To introduce this subject a little, it is necessary to point out that what we call “tea”, in fact, is not “tea”. That’s right! This is because we call “tea” the technique of transferring nutrients, properties and organoleptic characteristics (such as flavor and smell) on a daily basis, but this technique is called “infusion”, and not tea.
As such, “chamomile tea” is – technically and correctly speaking – an “infusion of chamomile herb”. The same happens with the “cider tea”, “ boldo tea ”, “santo grass tea” and so on. But then what is tea? Calm! We will explain below.
However, don’t blame yourself for the mistake of calling tea what is not tea. This confusion exists due to some factors and historical situations that end up giving meaning to the dissemination of this small misunderstanding. Understand:
Herbal tea or tea: discover the difference
Historically, the tradition of making “infusion” of herbs, fruits and roots comes from Asian countries, mainly China, which earns the title of country of origin of teas. It is estimated that this technique has existed for at least 3 millennia.
Unlike common infusions that have immense variety, tea is a specific production. Briefly, tea is a drink made with the herb called Camellia sinensis , and only when brewed with this herb are we talking about real tea.
This herb is native to East Asia and, due to the large number of types of infusions made with it, it ended up being a very popular drink. Due to where the plant was grown, how the leaves were treated, the size and freshness of the leaves and the mixture with other herbs ended up bringing success to the teas.
Therefore, any infusion that does not contain Camellia sinensis or caffeine (we’ll explain this later) is actually a herbal tea. Infusions are infusions made with herbs, fruits and roots that do not have the tea herb in their composition. For example, when we drink chamomile tea, we are drinking “chamomile herbal tea”.
So if we go back in history, it’s more likely that the first infusions were herbal teas, not teas. Despite this, the world is already familiar with the practice of infusion as “tea”, in various languages and cultures. That’s because when real tea (with Camellia sinensis ) was disseminated, its consumption became so common that the practice of infusion became known as tea.
It (tea) was disseminated in this way thanks to the variety of types it offers. The Camellia sinensis is basic ingredient for some of the most famous teas such as green tea, black tea, white tea and oolongs.
It is possible to produce numerous variations of teas, depending on how Camellia sinensis leaves are treated and what they are mixed with. Therefore, the infusion made with Camellia sinensis , even if mixed with another herb, is still a tea.
Which one is the best? Herbal tea or tea?
In fact, herbal teas and teas do not compete with each other. While teas have health benefits, flavors and textures specific to Camellia sinensis , herbal teas are the gateway to varieties of all other types of infusions, also with different nutritional benefits and characteristics.
The Camellia sinensis can be mixed with other herbs, fruits and roots, but in Brazil we do not have such easy access to this herb. In Portugal, we give priority to the common plants on Brazilian soil, as the grass holy, lemon balm , mint, etc. That’s why we consume herbal teas and not teas, officially speaking.
Speaking specifically about tea, Camellia sinensis has several beneficial capabilities and effects for the human body. Check out the list:
- Helps control diarrhea
- Reduces cavities
- helps to lose weight
- Natural remedy for colds and flu
These benefits are due to the rich variety of nutrients present in the composition of the herb. Among the main ones are compounds such as catechins, flavonoids and tannins (combination of various chemical substances of plant origin (polyphenols), responsible for texture and flavor). They make tea an antioxidant.
It is also rich in minerals such as magnesium and potassium. It also has folic acid and vitamins such as C, K, B1 and B2.
The relationship between herbal teas and coffee
To be considered real tea, the infusion cannot contain caffeine. Infusion specialists claim that caffeine is able to neutralize several benefits of the herbs in infusion, which ends up spoiling the drink.
Herbs, on the other hand, can be prepared even with the use of leaves and coffee beans. They don’t have this restriction. The yerba mate , for example, can only produce herbal teas, as there is caffeine in its composition.
Main teas consumed in Brazil
Of the (true) most consumed teas in Brazil, the main one is green tea . Its preparation base is Camellia sinensis , which may or may not be mixed with other herbs, roots and fruits, such as lemon and ginger.
However, to get all the benefits of Camellia sinensis , the ideal is to consume natural tea, not preferring industrialized versions of green tea.
Black tea is also a “true” tea. It’s made with tea herb, in a production style that focuses on the oxidation of Camellia sinensis leaves – hence the dark color of the tea.
Main herbal teas consumed in Brazil
As already mentioned, “ chamomile tea ” is actually a “chamomile herbal tea”. It is widely consumed thanks to its therapeutic use, capable of providing relief from anxiety and stress.
In addition to these benefits, it is a herbal tea with diuretic and digestive potential . It has analgesic potential and helps in the quality of sleep and breathing.
As with chamomile, we consume boldo herbal tea , not tea. It is one of the most consumed herbal teas due to its ability to relieve and treat stomach pain and intestinal problems. It also serves to reduce nausea , nausea and malaise.