Herbal tea, tea and infusion: what is the difference?

Herbal tea, tea and infusion are very popular for a relaxing moment and differ in some respects. Known for their mineral content and subtle flavours, these products can accompany your breakfast or a break in the afternoon or evening. An overview of their compositions, preparations and benefits will help you to better understand their differences.

Tea and herbal tea, two products not to be confused

Tea and herbal tea, two products not to be confused
First of all, it is important to know the difference between tea and herbal tea. Both drinks are based on plants, sometimes in the form of a mixture, to take advantage of deep aromas offering a beneficial effect. In the case of tea, the beverage will necessarily contain theine, a substance derived from the leaves of the tea plant, a shrub belonging to the Camellia family originating in the Far East. In the case of herbal tea, the resulting drink is made from natural plants but does not contain theine.

Several varieties of tea are available to help you prepare the most palatable drinks. Contrary to popular belief, white, green, black and yellow teas all come from the same plant, but find their own characteristics through the method of harvesting used and the choice of manufacturing process.

A tea can be prepared using a single plant or several plants to form tasty blends. The principle remains the same, namely to pour boiling water over leaves or flowers. Some of the most commonly used herbs for this purpose are thyme, rosemary, chamomile, lemon balm, linden and verbena.

Herbal tea and infusion, different preparations

Unlike the previous case, herbal tea and infusion are not drinks whose composition changes completely. What is the difference between herbal tea and infusion? The difference lies in the preparation technique itself. Tea and herbal tea are different products, whereas infusion is a preparation method used for different beverages (including herbal tea).

In concrete terms, infusion consists of bringing water to the boil and then pouring it over leaves, stems or flowers to extract all the aromas. Depending on the plants used, the infusion time may vary. It is usually between 5 and 10 minutes, to allow the water to cool down. An infusion is made with water around 80 to 90°C, so it is important to always allow for this waiting time before consuming your drink.

An herbal tea can be prepared in various ways, by infusion, but also by maceration or decoction. Less used, these last two methods are more complex. The first requires soaking the plants in water at room temperature for several hours. The second is similar to infusion, except that the water is first poured in cold and then the mixture is gradually brought to the boil.

Tea, herbal tea and infusion are different, but they all have virtues that should not be neglected for the body. Rich in flavonoids, tea is a powerful antioxidant that helps reduce cell ageing. Depending on the plants chosen, the herbal tea can have calming, invigorating or diuretic effects. An infusion taken before going to sleep can also facilitate sleep.

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