Actual Tea VS Herbal Tea (yes, there’s a difference)

Imagine you're sipping the perfect cup of chamomile brew. Question: Are you sipping “tea?”

Technically, the answer is NO!! Why is that?

Well, to call a drink ”tea” it should come from the plant camellia sinensis. In the case of the chamomile, it's not actual tea leaves, but made from herbs, added to hot water.

What is actual tea?

Green, black and Oolong tea are actual teas or true teas. Although they differ in their appearance, they come from the same tea plant. They differ in the way they're processed, which gives them their distinctive characteristics.

”Herbal tea” is a misnomer. ”Herbal infusion” may be the better term to use. This is because herbal teas do not actually have tea leaves from the tea plant.

Tisane, is the proper name for herbal drinks.

Tisane is a beverage made from the infusion of plant material in hot water. These are from flowers, spices, fruits and herbs that are free of caffeine. Examples include chamomile, basil, ginger teas.

Actual Tea VS Herbal Tea

Here are 3 Key Things that separate the two.

1. Caffeine content

Actual teas contain caffeine. While most herbal teas don't have caffeine. You always want to check your labels to be sure.

Check out how much caffeine an 8 oz. cup of these actual teas has:

Brewed black tea gives 14 – 70 mg

Green tea gives 24 – 45 mg

Black tea, decaffeinated 0 – 12 mg (yes, even decaf has some caffeine)

2. Antioxidant content

Actual teas are a consistent source of antioxidants. Tea leaves are rich in polyphenolic compounds that are powerful antioxidants.

Thearubigins, epicatechins, and catechins are just a few of the important antioxidants in tea leaves.

The antioxidant content of herbal teas vary with the choice of ingredients. It also depends on the amount of herb used when making the drink.

For example, a cup of ginseng tea may supply fewer antioxidants when compared to actual tea. Yet, the preparation process of herbal tea helps to extract the nutrients of ginseng. This offers therapeutic benefits as well.

3. Variety

Actual teas is available only in 4 varieties: Black, Green, Oolong and White.

Herbal teas offer many varieties to suit your needs. Whether you need to please your taste buds or drink for medicinal reasons, the is no shortage of choices!

Is chai tea actual tea or herbal?

Chai tea is an Indian specialty tea that is from original tea leaves. This tea is flavored with spices like cardamom, cloves etc. Sometimes fresh ginger, and fruits are also added to bring out an unique flavor.

Chai tea will still contain caffeine, so if you want to avoid caffeine, avoid chai tea. There are some packaged chai teas that come without the actual tea leaves in its ingredients. Be sure to read the ingredient list before you buy it.

Tea is soothing and one of my favorite ways to relax is with a cup of tea. If you've been avoiding teas because of the caffeine content, tisane (herbal teas) are right for you.

Have fun experimenting with the many creative ways to brew a perfect cup of herbal tea!

Yours in Health,


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