When we talk about tea, we always talk about the specific type of tea plant called Camellia sinensis. There are, however, many other herbs that are drank in the form of tea. The proper name for them is infusions. China has a lot to offer to individuals seeking to include herbs into their drinking rituals for health. Many herbal infusions can be found in China, some of which are completely unknown in western world. In this article, we will continue using the word tea, even though it is not the most appropriate term in English. In Chinese language the word Cha (tea) is used for herbal tea as well as for real tea.
The Importance of Traditional Chinese Medicine
Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM, called Zhongyi in China is the foundation of western medicine. While you may already know this, you might be unaware that it still plays a very important role in the lives of Chinese people. It seems that with more and more health problems connected with the modern way of living, even many foreigners are interested in exploring the benefits of Zhongyi.
Kuding tea is one of the most well-known herbal teas from China. Its name translates to bitter tea, because of its extremely bitter taste. Kuding tea is said to have numerous health benefits, but it became popular due to weight loss claims. It is said that kuding tea may reduce cholesterol levels and body fat. It may reduce inflammatory processes, improve memory and concentration and beautify the skin. This tea is not a good choice for everyone, but if you can tolerate bitterness, give it a try.
Unlike Kuding tea, Jiaogulan has a sweet taste. It also has a great importance in Zhongyi, considered to be the herb of immortality. This tea is an adaptogene, which means it has a great influence in reducing stress. Just like many other herbs, it has antioxidant properties and it is considered to reduce cholesterol, improve energy levels and sleep, and improve the overall health. In China it can be found for a really low price, while in the West it is still considered unusual and rare.
Chrysanthemum is an extremely popular flower for making tea in China. It literary can be found everywhere. Chrysanthemum tea has a specific taste and might not be liked by everyone. It usually comes in a dry pressed form and there are different types to be found. It is considered to have a cooling effect on the body, making it a good choice for fighting fever.
Globe Amaranth flower is a beautiful flower whose name translates to thousand days red, implying that this flower has a long blooming period. It is mainly used for treating sore throat and cough. It has a very distinctive flowery scent, which may or may not be liked by some people. This tea has one of the most beautiful liquor color, which matches the color of flowers. It is also used in Chinese medicine.
Osmanthus flower or gui hua is one of the most popular Chinese flowers used in cooking. If you ever get the chance to try it, do not hesitate. Intense peach flavor and scent are perfect both for desserts and tea. Osmanthus flower is small and bright yellow, and is often used for scenting green and oolong teas. This intense flowery tea will find many admirers among herbal tea drinkers.
Although there are many other herbs that are drank as tea in China, teas presented above are probably the least known outside China. Lavender, honeysuckle, ginkgo, marigold, goji, chamomile, ginseng, jasmine, all are popular herbs and flowers for making tea in China, but they are very well-known outside China as well.
Please be aware that drinking any herbal tea (or real tea) may have negative influence on your health. It is always important to follow recommendations and to consult an expert when choosing to drink tea for health benefits. Even the regular camellia sinensis tea should not be drank in uncontrollable amounts, and the basic principle you should always follow when drinking tea on your own is – choose balance.