Q: I drink herbal tea every morning and in the evening before bed. Am I getting all of the antioxidant and heart health benefits that I’ve heard so much about? — Tea Lover
A: Hi Tea Lover! That’s an excellent question. Unfortunately, herbal tea does not contain the antioxidants and heart health benefits that you find in green, black, white, and oolong teas (you can read about those in my earlier post Warm up at Teatime). Herbal tea, also known as tisane, is not actually tea at all. It is an infusion made with herbs, flowers, roots, and seeds — basically any part of a plant other than real tea leaves.
To add to the confusion, flavored teas are real tea. They are prepared by adding other plants to black, green, oolong, or white tea. For example, the popular Earl Grey tea is black tea with bergamot (a citrus fruit) added for flavor.
Before you start thinking your tea drinking is a waste, let me tell you about the benefits of herbal tea. While it may not give you an antioxidant boost, herbal teas have been found to help in other areas, such as:
Plus, don’t forget that unsweetened herbal tea (hot or cold) is a great calorie-free bevarage and is caffeine-free! So keep on drinking your tea, and if you want add in a cup or two of the real stuff once in a while!
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