Despite the name, herbal teas are not technically tea. The only real teas are brewed from white, green, black, or oolong tea plants. Herbal teas are better classified as infusions or tisanes—herbs, spices, flowers, or fruit steeped in water to release oils and compounds like polyphenols.
Whatever you call them, herbal teas are delicious. You can use any combination of plants you want to create custom tea blends perfect for your unique palate. Herbal teas may also have therapeutic properties depending on what you add to the infusion. (Of course, modern medicine doesn’t put much research funding into plant medicine, so we’re often relying on folk wisdom here.)
Herbal teas do not contain caffeine, so they’re an ideal hot beverage option for people who are trying to cut back. They’re also a great excuse to start an herb and flower garden at home. Once you find some blends you like, use a corner of your outdoor garden space—or just a few containers on a sunny windowsill—to plant a “tea garden.” Alternatively, the ingredients below are readily available in stores, at farmer’s markets, and online.
Below are three of our favorite do-it-yourself herbal tea recipes. It’s important to select plants that have not been sprayed with pesticides or other chemicals (another good reason to grow them yourself). Remember to wash all ingredients thoroughly before steeping.
Three Herbal Tea Recipes to Make at Home
Ginger tea recipe with peppermint
Ginger and peppermint are both renowned for their anti-inflammatory properties and their ability to alleviate headaches, nausea, and other digestive upsets. This blend is perfect for when you feel under the weather or you had a little too much fun last night.
2 cups water
2-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and thinly sliced or grated
6 fresh mint leaves (or more to taste)
Honey or other sweetener to taste
Place water and ginger in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat, add mint leaves, cover, and let steep for 10 minutes. Strain, then pour into two mugs. Optionally add lemon juice and honey to taste. If the ginger flavor is too strong, you can dilute it with more hot water.
Instead of mint, try tulsi (holy basil), which can provide immune support and possibly help with anxiety. It might also act as an aphrodisiac, so keep that in mind when sitting down to tea with someone.
Ginger root getting moldy before you can use it all? Peel and slice it into 2-inch portions. Seal them in a bag and toss them in the freezer to use later.
Chamomile tea for sleep and stress relief
This isn’t the tea to drink when you have a busy and productive afternoon ahead of you. This tea is for when you’re ready to calm your racing mind, meditate, settle down with a good book, or crawl into bed. Chamomile is a common ingredient in sleep supplements because it binds with GABA receptors in the brain to make you drowsy. It can also support your immune system. Lavender likewise promotes relaxation and sleep.
If you have the optional ingredients available, they add a lot to this blend! Lemon balm, another herb known to aid sleep and reduce anxiety, is a little harder to find but easy to grow in a container herb garden. And collagen contains glycine, an amino acid involved in your body’s natural healthy sleep cycles.
1 tablespoon dried chamomile flowers or ½ cup fresh flowers
Place chamomile and lavender buds in a teapot. Add lemon balm leaves if using. Bring the water to a boil and pour over the flowers. Cover and steep for 5 minutes. Strain and pour into two mugs. Stir in one scoop of collagen peptides if using, then optionally sweeten to taste.
Dandelion tea has traditionally been used to support liver health. We’re not sure about all that—there are other, probably more impactful, things you can do to support your liver—but dandelion tea is still worth checking out. It’s not the most delicious tea on this list, but some people swear by it for indigestion. Dandelion tea can also act as a diuretic. That’s great if you’re feeling puffy, not so great if you’re already on diuretic meds. (Check with your doctor before consuming dandelion tea if that’s the case.)
You can make tea out of the flowers, leaves, or roots of the dandelion. However, dandelion root tea usually involves extra steps of drying and/or roasting the roots, and the result is a more robust drink that you might enjoy as a coffee substitute. This recipe calls for using the leaves or flowers. The leaves impart a somewhat bitter taste, as does the green base of the flower. For the mildest dandelion tea, use only the flower petals, discarding the base.
1 cup loosely packed dandelion flowers, roughly chopped leaves, or a combination of the two
2 cups water
Honey or other sweetener, to taste (optional)
Place the dandelion in a teapot. Bring the water to a boil and pour over the dandelion. Cover and let steep for 5 to 10 minutes, then strain into two mugs. Optionally sweeten, and enjoy!
What are your favorite herbal tea concoctions? Let us know in the comments!