Sipping on herbal tea can be more than just a relaxing ritual. This cozy habit may also support various aspects of your health, thanks to the compounds found in the ingredients.
Below, learn what herbal teas are, how they can support your health, and whether there are any risks associated with drinking them.
What Are Herbal Teas?
Herbal teas are not true teas because they are not made from tea leaves. Instead, they are made from an infusion of ingredients like fruit, herbs, roots, bark, seeds, and flowers.1 However, since the beverage is brewed and enjoyed like true tea, it is referred to as herbal tea.
How Are They Different From True Teas?
Herbal teas can be made from various ingredients while true teas are derived from Camellia sinensis plant leaves. The four true teas include green, black, oolong, and white.
Green tea is made by heating the tea leaves shortly after harvesting to prevent oxidation, while black and oolong varieties undergo full or partial oxidation, which makes the leaves darker in color. White tea, a variety that has a more delicate flavor, is harvested before the tea plant’s leaves open fully. Like green tea, the white tea leaves are not oxidized, which allows for a lighter brew.
One major difference between herbal teas and true teas is the caffeine content. Traditionally, herbal teas are caffeine-free, while true teas contain natural caffeine that can be removed during a decaffeination process. True tea contains plant compounds that support various aspects of human health, including heart health and brain health.2
Types of Herbal Teas
There are countless varieties of herbal teas that are enjoyed throughout the world, with some being unique combinations of different ingredients and others being single-ingredient infusions. Among the laundry list of herbal tea options out there, there are some noteworthy selections that may offer unique health benefits.
Known to support sleep quality, chamomile is a popular bedtime drink for good reason. Some data shows that chamomile offers a sedative effect after consumption, thanks to the flavonoid it contains.3
But chamomile isn’t just a ‘sleepytime’ sip that people drink when they want some restful shuteye. The plant that is used to make this tea contains many plant compounds, which can offer anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, anticancer, and anti-hypertensive benefits.3
The gorgeous red drink that results from steeping hibiscus in hot water isn’t just consumed because it looks pretty. This tea may help support healthy blood pressure, according to the results of a small clinical trial.4 Other data suggests that hibiscus may help reduce levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL cholesterol) compared with other teas and placebo.5
Peppermint tea can offer a satisfying zing at each sip. And when it comes to gastrointestinal discomfort, sipping this tea may offer relief for symptoms that include “nausea, bloating, and indigestion,” Dr. Idrees Mughal (@dr_idz), a British doctor with a master’s in nutritional research, told Verywell.
Peppermint oil has been linked to reduced symptoms associated with indigestion in the medical literature.6 And since peppermint tea contains peppermint oil, using this drink as a vessel may be a helpful natural remedy for people who need some relief.
Made from ginger root, this tea can be made easily at home simply by steeping the main ingredient in hot water.
“Ginger tea is very potent cardioprotective properties,” Mughal said, highlighting how this tea may offer some unique benefit for those who are focused on heart health. Ginger may also help people find nausea relief, as data shows that it may be effective for those who are undergoing chemotherapy7 as well as for females who are pregnant.8
Echinacea purpurea is an herb with proposed immune-supporting and anti-inflammatory properties.9 While it is still unclear exactly how this herb works in the body, it is one of the most popular herbal remedies in the world. Echinacea tea can be made using various plant parts from the echinacea plant , like the leaves, root, and flower.
Also known as red tea, rooibos tea is a caffeine-free beverage that is made from leaves of the Aspalathus linearis shrub. The leaves are oftentimes fermented, which results in a rich red color.
This tea contains an antioxidant called quercetin, which has anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular benefits.10 While data is lacking that confirms a direct link between drinking this tea and specific health benefits, data does exist that shows intake of these antioxidants may support aspects of our health.
Lemon balm is an ingredient that is frequently found in anxiety-relieving herbal supplements, as ingestion may help improve anxiety and depressive symptoms among certain populations.11 It is important to note that more strong data is needed before this relationship can be confirmed.
Anecdotally, people claim that drinking this tea helps support achieving quality sleep. Again, more data is needed to confirm this link.
Rose Hips Tea
Rose hips tea is made from the rose plant, and it has a floral flavor and scent that one would expect. Like most other herbal teas, rose hips contain antioxidants, which can help support many aspects of your health.
Vitamin C is one noteworthy nutrient that rosehips contains,12 making this an ideal tea to sip during illness to fuel the body with this important immune-supporting nutrient.13
Passionflower tea can produce a calming effect. While more clinical trials are needed to confirm a definitive link between ingestion of this tea and any health effects, anecdotally, there are reports of better sleep, a calmer mood, and less anxiety when this plant is consumed.14
Yes, you can make tea by steeping cinnamon sticks in hot water. And once you do that, you will be left with a spicy concoction that is perfect to sip on when it is chilly outside.
Cinnamon is a source of polyphenol antioxidants, and some data suggests that drinking this tea consistently may help manage post-meal blood sugar among people without diabetes.15
Turmeric has been an important part of the diets of many cultures for thousands of years, mostly because of the active compound it contains called curcumin. This compound has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-arthritis, and anti-asthmatic properties.16
It is important to note that while turmeric ingestion is linked to a slew of health benefits, turmeric tea’s effects have not been studied as closely. Since turmeric/curcumin is poorly used by the body when ingested alone, experts recommend taking it with a compound that helps enhance it’s bioavailability, like piperine (substance found in black pepper).17
Benefits of Herbal Teas for Stress and Anxiety
One of the most notable potential benefits of herbal teas is stress and anxiety relief.
“Herbal teas are a common remedy for people who are looking for a natural way to reduce their stress or manage their anxiety,” Melissa Azzaro, RDN, LD, a New Hampshire-based registered dietitian, told Verywell. “There is data that suggests that some herbal teas, like lemon balm, chamomile, holy basil, and lavender, may help people feel a sense of calm.”
Specifically, one study showed that the consumption of lavender herbal tea can reduce depression and anxiety scores among an elderly sample.18 And other data showed that blood cortisol levels were reduced when a herbal tea was ingested, suggesting a possible reduction in stress.19
“These positive effects on stress may be due to the calming ritual of sipping on a cup of tea vs. the actual tea reducing stress,” Azzaro noted. She also advised that the available data are based on small sample sizes, and the researchers did not evaluate diverse populations.
How to Brew Herbal Tea for Maximum Benefits
Herbal tea is brewed by steeping ingredients in boiling water for a specific time frame before enjoying it. The time needed to steep herbal tea can range from 5 minutes to up to 15 minutes.
Herbal tea can be made from dried ingredients that are prepared and pre-portioned and are available in retail. Alternatively, tea can be made by steeping fresh ingredients like ginger root, turmeric root, or lemon balm until the desired potency is achieved.
Tea can also be steeped in cold water. This process will result in a more aromatic tea, but it will take a longer time to brew (sometimes up to 12 or more hours).
There are studies that show ideal times that true teas should be brewed to maximize the antioxidant content in the brews,20
but the same information is not available for herbal options.
Despite the popularity of herbal teas, the number of studies exploring the safety of these beverages is small.21 Because of this, these teas should not be consumed in large volumes.
Herbal teas may interact with certain medications. For example, you may experience negative effects if you drink peppermint tea while taking an anticoagulant.22
Certain herbal teas may trigger unexpected allergic reactions. In the case of a ragweed allergy, there have been reports of people experiencing an allergic reaction when ingesting chamomile, a ragweed relative.23
Ultimately, even though herbal teas are natural, if you have any concerns, you should discuss whether drinking them is right for you with your healthcare provider.
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The nutrition source: Tea.
- Khan N, Mukhtar H. Tea polyphenols in promotion of human health. Nutrients. 2018;11(1):39. doi:10.3390/nu11010039
- Sah A, Naseef PP, Kuruniyan MS, Jain GK, Zakir F, Aggarwal G. A comprehensive study of therapeutic applications of chamomile. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2022;15(10):1284. doi:10.3390/ph15101284
- Jalalyazdi M, Ramezani J, Izadi-Moud A, Madani-Sani F, Shahlaei S, Ghiasi SS. Effect of hibiscus sabdariffa on blood pressure in patients with stage 1 hypertension, J Adv Pharm Technol Res. 2019;10(3):107-111. doi:10.4103/japtr.JAPTR_402_18
- Ellis LR, Zulfiqar S, Holmes M, Marshall L, Dye L, Boesch C. A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effects of Hibiscus sabdariffa on blood pressure and cardiometabolic markers. Nutr Rev. 2022 9;80(6):1723-1737. doi:10.1093/nutrit/nuab104
- Masuy I, Van Oudenhove L, Tack J. Review article: Treatment options for functional dyspepsia. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2019;49(9):1134-1172. doi:10.1111/apt.15191
- Gala D, Wright HH, Zigori B, Marshall S, Crichton M. Dietary strategies for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting: A systematic review, Clin Nutr. 2022;41(10):2147-2155. doi:10.1016/j.clnu.2022.08.003
- Crichton M, Davidson AR, Innerarity C, et al. Orally consumed ginger and human health: An umbrella review. Am J Clin Nutr. 2022;115(6):1511-1527. doi:10.1093/ajcn/nqac035
- Manayi A, Vazirian M, Saeidnia S. Echinacea purpurea: Pharmacology, phytochemistry and analysis methods. Pharmacogn Rev. 2015;9(17):63-72. doi:10.4103/0973-7847.156353
- Salehi B, Machin L, Monzote L, Sharifi-Rad J, Ezzat SM, Salem MA, Merghany RM, El Mahdy NM, Kılıç CS, Sytar O, Sharifi-Rad M, Sharopov F, Martins N, Martorell M, Cho WC. Therapeutic Potential of Quercetin: New Insights and Perspectives for Human Health. ACS Omega. 2020 May 14;5(20):11849-11872. doi:10.1021/acsomega.0c01818
Salehi B, Machin L, Monzote L, et al. Therapeutic potential of quercetin: New insights and perspectives for human health. ACS Omega. 2020;5(20):11849-11872. doi:10.1021%2Facsomega.0c01818
- Ghazizadeh J, Sadigh‐Eteghad S, Marx W, et al. The effects of lemon balm (Melissa officinalis l.) on depression and anxiety in clinical trials: A systematic review and meta‐analysis. Phytother Res. 2021;35(12):6690-6705. doi:10.1002/ptr.7252
- Tumbas VT, Canadanović-Brunet JM, Cetojević-Simin DD, Cetković GS, Ethilas SM, Gille L. Effect of rosehip (Rosa canina L.) phytochemicals on stable free radicals and human cancer cells. J Sci Food Agric. 2012;92(6):1273-1281. doi:10.1002/jsfa.4695
- Carr AC, Maggini S. Vitamin C and immune function. Nutrients. 2017;9(11):1211. doi:10.3390/nu9111211
- Miroddi M, Calapai G, Navarra M, Minciullo PL, Gangemi S. Passiflora incarnata L.: Ethnopharmacology, clinical application, safety and evaluation of clinical trials. J Ethnopharmacol. 2013;150(3):791-804. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2013.09.047
- Bernardo MA, Silva ML, Santos E, et al. Effect of cinnamon tea on postprandial glucose concentration. J Diabetes Res. 2015;2015:1-6. doi:10.1155/2015/913651
- Sharifi-Rad J, Rayess YE, Rizk AA, et al. Turmeric and its major compound curcumin on health: Bioactive effects and safety profiles for food, pharmaceutical, biotechnological and medicinal applications. Front Pharmacol. 2020;11:01021. doi:10.3389/fphar.2020.01021
- Kunnumakkara AB, Harsha C, Banik K, et al. Is curcumin bioavailability a problem in humans: Lessons from clinical trials. Expert Opinion on Drug Metabolism & Toxicology. 2019;15(9):705-733. doi:10.1080/17425255.2019.1650914
- Bazrafshan MR, Jokar M, Shokrpour N, Delam H. The effect of lavender herbal tea on the anxiety and depression of the elderly: A randomized clinical trial. Complement Ther Med. 2020;50:102393. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2020.102393
- Chbili C, Maoua M, Zaouali M, et al. Evaluation of daily Laurus nobilis tea consumption on anxiety and stress biomarkers in healthy volunteers. Arch Ital Biol. 2022;160(3-4):136-146. doi:10.12871/000398292022343
- Hajiaghaalipour F, Sanusi J, Kanthimathi MS. Temperature and time of steeping affect the antioxidant properties of white, green, and black tea infusions: Tea infusion and antioxidant properties. J Food Sci. 2016;81(1):H246-H254. doi:0.1111/1750-3841.13149
- Poswal FS, Russell G, Mackonochie M, MacLennan E, Adukwu EC, Rolfe V. Herbal teas and their health benefits: a scoping review. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2019 Sep;74(3):266-276. doi:10.1007/s11130-019-00750-w
- Aliasghar Moeinipour; Mohamad Abbassi Teshnizi; Babak Manafi; Hadi Yavari; Yasamin Moeinipour; Hamid Hoseinikhah. Possible interaction of warfarin with peppermint herbal tea: a case report. Reviews in Clinical Medicine, 4, 2, 2017, 83-86. doi:10.22038/rcm.2016.7899
Subiza J, Subiza JL, Hinojosa M, Garcia R, Jerez M, Valdivieso R, Subiza E. Anaphylactic reaction after the ingestion of chamomile tea: a study of cross-reactivity with other composite pollens. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1989 Sep;84(3):353-8. doi:10.1016/0091-6749(89)90420-x
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