Herbal Tea

The nine herbs in the Eight Treasures blend, unpacked and separated out.
The nine herbs in the Eight Treasures blend, unpacked and separated out.

History of Herbal Tea

Human beings and been experimenting and practicing with herbals for centuries. Herbal tea, comes from the Latin “herba” meaning “plant”. The Chinese call herbals “yao chao cha” or “hua chao cha” which means “herbal and flower tea”.  In historical records, the Sumerians were the first group to use herbs dating back to 5,000 years ago. 1,000 years later, records mention China and India using herbals as well. About 2,000 years ago, a famous Chinese herbal book, “Shen long Ben Chao Jing” has records of 365 different herbals the Chinese used for daily life. One of the herbals mentioned was tea, but the more modern idea of herbals are those without tea’s unique qualities. Most herbals contain no caffeine, and do not have tea’s special antioxidants EGCG or the amino acid tea theanine. Humans have been using herbals for centuries, finding many that are are useful and gentle to consume, slowly changing from eating them to drink them like tea. Popular herbals include chrysanthemum, jasmine, mint, goji berries, osmanthus, rose, lavender, bitter melon, licorice, and “qian ri hong” which is a Chinese herbal that is and ingredient in one of our display teas. Herbs can be used in many different ways, baths, salves, oils, cooking, etcetera. It is this reason that herbals are very popular all over the world.

Harvesting and making herbal tea

A young woman plucking chrysanthemum buds by hand from the plants in the garden, carrying a large bowl full of plucked flowerheads.
A harvester plucking chrysanthemum flowers in the garden.

Herbal tea can be made from leaves, a branch, flower, or roots depending on which part of the plant has the most concentrated effect on the body. Different herbs grow and are harvested in different seasons. It is often a seasonal practice, drinking certain herbs for certain times of year. It is also based upon the individual’s needs and body condition that will make someone choose one herbal over another. The picking standard for herbal teas differ from herb to herb.

Rose buds are used more often than rose petals, and must be picked when the buds are the perfect size. Osmanthus flowers only have a 9 day life from bud to when the flower falls on the ground, the best picking time is the middle three days for the best aroma. If you pick at the right time, the medical function of the herbal is stronger. There are different qualities of herbals from region to region. For example, there are 30 kinds of chrysanthemum flowers, but only 4 kinds have been chosen as tribute herbal teas out of all the regions in China.

Herbalists use to source herbals from the wild, but now there are fields just for growing popular herbals and flowers. Once the herbal is picked, they must quickly be transported back to the factory to gently dry them as soon as possible. Normally herbs will be picked before noon, so they have enough time during the same day to dry it.The temperature must be highly controlled to keep the original aroma and color. Many herbals would be dried under the sunshine or above charcoal, but now most are dried in ovens. Our white teas are processed as herbals, naturally dried by sun and wind for 80% of the process, to keep most of the original material from the plants.

Health benefits of herbal tea

Just like choosing different types of tea, we suggest you choose and herbal with a nice taste and aroma that you like. You also choose based upon what your body needs. According to Chinese medicine, all herbals including those you drink or eat, are separated in to two categories: cooling and warming. Some herbals have stronger cooling properties, helping cut down on fire in the body and move out inflammation. Warming properties help you cultivate more yang energy inside to help the blood and qi circulation. Herbal tea has become very popular because it is almost always caffeine free, and with gentle and mild flavors there are many choices.

How to brew herbal tea

Tai Ju baby chrysanthemum flowers brewing in a cup.
Tai Ju baby chrysanthemum flowers brewing in a cup.

Here we offer some of the most popular teas in China. Most herbal teas for purchase are already dried. For fresh herbs, you just need to use twice as much than dried flowers. Each herbal requires a different quantity, so just follow the directions on each herbal tea page or bag. Use good quality filtered or spring water and use boiling or close to boiling water. Infusion time is normally longer than regular tea, usually about 5 minutes for the first infusion.

Like regular loose leaf tea, you can reuse the same serving over and over until the flavor is gone. You can drink herbal tea by itself, or add it to your tea to give it a different flavor and increase the medical function. All our herbal teas are caffeine free and can be consumed anytime of day. Organic herbal teas, especially flowers have a lot of proteins and amino acids that attract bugs, so make sure you seal your herbals well to keep it fresh.

Note: This information is for educational purposes only. Medicinal statements about these herbs are not endorsed by the FDA.