This post on tea herbs is written by Kiran, a member of our team and sponsored by Traditional Medicinals.
I attended a conference a few years ago where I saw a presentation on herbs, their meanings, and incorporation into teas. Since I had very little knowledge of herbs, I was intrigued – I’m always up for learning something new. Along with me were seven other women and two “herb nerds,” as they called themselves, experts from the Traditional Medicinals team who know all about the plants and their associations. I quickly realized that my knowledge was the least of the group. But I also realized I’d had experience with some of the herbs without realizing it – which I’ll expand on below. One of the reasons we like working with Traditional Medicinals is not only their vast knowledge of tea herbs, but their commitment to quality in their organic offerings.
If you’re new to herbs, or wanting to know some of the basics, I’m hopeful that the info below can help. You may find you already know and use some of these powerful herbs!
Common Tea Herbs and Their Uses
Ginger is most associated with nausea, or to relieve stomach issues. Truth be told, I was no stranger to drinking ginger ale or even (gasp!) diet ginger ale when stomach issues loomed. But I was also no stranger to the herb in foods. Often used in Indian and Middle Eastern foods, it provides a distinct taste that I was very accustomed to eating while growing up, and one that I still enjoy today.
Ginger’s use with Chinese Medicine dates back 2000 years and is used to aid in digestion, help with nausea and stomach cramping* – so perhaps the makers of ginger ale were actually onto something! Though nowadays I prefer to skip the soda and include ginger in my homemade juices, in soups and stews, or in tea, by steeping a hot cup of water over a slice of organic ginger or with a purchased tea, such as Ginger Aid.
Peppermint is another flavor I’m very fond of. But I didn’t realize its roots (pardon the pun) relating to herbs. Otherwise referred to as Mentha x piperita, peppermint is cool, uplifting, and a flavor that many of us encounter on a daily basis – think toothpaste, breath mints, and chewing gum. But high quality, medicinal grade peppermint can also be used for digestive discomfort*.
A perennial plant, peppermint can be easily grown, and dried leaves enjoyed in foods or teas. One of the main constituents in peppermint, menthol, creates a soothing effect and can create comfort when applied topically to sore muscles.* It’s also quite uplifting and motivating. I personally enjoy a cup of peppermint tea either in the morning when I am looking for a “clean” boost, or after a meal.
I mentioned I’m still pretty low on the learning curve when it comes to herb knowledge, but in looking back, I was definitely exposed in my childhood in many different ways. I remember during the fall, the time when wellness is especially important heading into cold weather season, my mom would break out the echinacea either in tincture or capsule format.
Boosting the immune system is the most common goal of those who use echinacea, but it is a helpful herb for many issues*. The common name for this plant is purple cone flower because of it’s radiant purple flowers and sturdy structure – a powerful plant both in it’s stature and in usage. Beyond the herb benefits, there is something so comforting about a warm cup of tea heading into cold weather season.
You may be most familiar with fennel from seeing it at the grocery store. It reminds me of a large celery root and is used in many different forms in cooking. The bulb is often found in salads or sometimes sautéed or grilled; the tender leaves can be used as garnishes in salads, on cooked fish, and more. In my visits to India, I remember being offered roasted fennel seeds as an after-meal digestive and breath freshener. Imagine having a natural breath freshener that also soothes your stomach?!* I’m often amazed at the knowledge that has been passed on for centuries in using plants in their purest form.
Fennel’s taste resembles that of licorice, and most people enjoy the benefits associated with digestion. To give this unique flavor a try, you can steep fennel seeds in hot water or give this tea a try.
There are so many different tea herbs out there and so many different ways to use them. Which ones are some of your favorites, and why?