Teas and herbal teas are very present all over the world. In winter, they are appreciated for their warming and comforting qualities. In summer, they are drunk cold to quench our thirst.
Tea is the second most drunk drink in the world after water ! Its worldwide consumption is around 1,200 billion cups drunk each year, which is 36,000 cups per second.
The origin of tea
The origin of tea is not defined, but according to some sources, tea is said to have appeared about 5,000 years ago in China.
Legend has it that the first tea was created when the leaves were detached from a shrub and landed in the hot water of the Chinese emperor Shen Nong while he was asleep. When he woke up, the sovereign enjoyed the taste of this drink so much that he decided to make it his favourite drink. He also encouraged his people to do the same, and tea became the favourite drink of the Chinese.
After China, tea consumption first developed in the rest of Asia before reaching Europe. In 1606, a Dutch ship brought the first crates of black tea to our continent. Tea then spread throughout Europe and soon became a social fashion, the British-inspired afternoon tea.
What are the differences between tea, herbal tea and infusion?
Tea, herbal tea, infusion, decoction.... Quite often, confusion arises when one gets into the subject of these very popular hot drinks. Indeed, it is complicated to know what each of these appellations correspond to. So what are their differences?
The tea and its tree
When looking for the definition of tea here is what can be found: "Tea is an aromatic drink prepared by infusing dried tea leaves". The tea plant is an evergreen shrub from the foothills of the Himalayas. Contrary to popular belief, there is therefore only one tea tree, the Camellia sinensis, from which green tea, black tea and white, yellow or red tea is produced. It is the way in which the leaves of the Camellia are prepared that changes the colour and taste of the tea.
Of course, another great peculiarity of tea is that it contains theine (similar to caffeine). It is therefore a drink that plays the same role as coffee, but to a lesser extent, it wakes up without exciting the body.
Tea is usually brewed for 3-4 minutes in almost boiling water.
Herbal tea and its therapeutic virtues
Herbal teas are preparations that can be made from a wide variety of different plants. The part of the plant used can vary between leaves, flowers, fruits or roots as well. Due to the use of certain plants that have natural active ingredients, the therapeutic properties of these are also found in herbal teas. For example, rosemary herbal tea promotes digestion and linden tea has a calming and sedative effect.
What about the infusion?
The term "infusion" refers to a technique used to prepare teas and herbal teas. It consists of mixing plants in very hot water and allowing the aromas of the plants to blend into the water.
The benefits of tea
Tea and herbal tea, not being the same drinks, do not necessarily have the same virtues. While the benefits of herbal tea vary depending on the plant used, tea always offers the same benefits to the drinker.
Why drink tea?
Green tea contains antioxidants that fight the development of cardiovascular disease.
The theine present in tea is energising but does not prevent the drinker from falling asleep at the end of the day unlike coffee. It improves wakefulness and thus the mood of the drinker.
Tea has a fat-burning effect. It promotes the burning of fat cells in the abdominal area thanks to theine. However, it cannot be said that it alone makes you lose weight.
The antioxidants present in tea protect against free radicals responsible for cell ageing.
Tea is diuretic and has a draining action.
Which herbal tea to choose?
The therapeutic virtues of herbal teas vary according to the chosen plant.
Ginger against nausea
Lemon balm against anxiety
Peppermint against irritable bowels
Valerian to improve sleep
The lime tree to calm down
Chamomile to relieve inflammatory pain
Nettle for arthritis, rheumatism and sciatica
There are many other herbal teas with various properties. But herbal teas can also be chosen for their taste rather than for their benefits.