Questions about herbal teas!

1) Can you “oversteep” an herbal tea (i.e. bitterness)

2) How many times have you successfully resteeped herbal tea?

3) Let’s say I want to add my own fruit flavor; do I just add small slices of the fruit into the tea before steeping?

4) A lot of herbs and teas have different health benefits (Chamomile and Jasmine as sedatives, St. John’s Root as an anti-depressant, etc.) How effective/true is this? Like does green tea really help fight colds, and does spearmint really subdue headaches?


4 Replies
gmathis said

Here’s my (highly subjective) take:

1) Herbal teas have longer steeping times in general. You’ll just have to experiment to see what works and doesn’t work for you, taste-wise. I tend to keep “bag in” when I’m drinking chamomile or rooibos.

4) I’m a huge fan of tulsi as a relaxant and peppermint as a cure for nearly anything—from colds to tummy trouble. Again, I think it’s a matter of experimentation to see what has a positive medicinal effect on you. (I see lots of posts about chamomile and valerian putting folks to sleep and they don’t do a thing for me.)

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cteresa said

1) No, not really, though some herbs will be more bitter than others. Some herbs at same different stages will be more bitter than at other stages.

2) No, not really. A small rant if you will excuse me: I don´t get the obsession with resteeping! Resteeping only works for some teas (camellia s. that is) and when it has been treated specially. I don´t believe how so many american tea sellers say that you can resteep ALL teas – no, it will hardly ever be worth it. And for herbal teas, you can try, but do not expect much.

3) Again, you can try but it won´t work for all teas. Say putting banana ou kiwi in boiling water will probably not transfer a lot of flavour. For other fruits it might work better – maybe berries, or citrus zest. You can use freeze dried fruits as well.

4) Do you believe in placebos? if so, yes it will help. if not, then it´s a take what you can. I think ginger and pepper (and wasabi) are truly helpful at making sinus feel clearer when I have a cold, mint and ginger can be digestive and soothing. Rooibos and chamomile and linden blossom are mellow-inducing destressting drinks to me, so sleep inducing. Hibiscus (and a few others) are very diuretic. But fighting colds, or being anti-depressants or fighting headaches, no, regular herbal teas are not that powerful usually. (though arguably there are a few exotic plants which can be dangerous on strong concentrations though I think almost none are taken for flavour – arthemisia, foxglove, pennyroyal, a few more).

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Lala said

I agree with cteresa above.

1. No you can’t really over steep but some components in the blend may get very strong and therefore bitter, ie. hibiscus.

2. I rarely resteep anything. But I am sure you could resteeped a herbal. You will just have to try and see which ones make for a good resteep.

3. I often add little extras to tea like a cinnamon stick or vanilla pods which transfer flavour. Some fruits may transfer flavour. You are better off to use a dried fruit vs a fresh one. Adding fruit juice would work better, ie adding orange juice. You can also try adding something like strawberry jam for strawberry flavour with sweetness.

4. Honestly it depends and there is no good scientific studies to really prove which components, when steeped in hot water, provide enough of a vitamin or anti viral, etc property to help you. But if you try it and it works for you, great. I have a lot of herbal teas that advertise they are high in vitamin c. But I don’t know acutally how much vitamin c I am getting, if any, after the tea is steeped.

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1. I have some that get overpowered when left to sit for a long time, but those tend to have some sort of spice such as cloves or cinnamon in them.

2. It’s pretty much trial and error to find out, but I try to resteep most things one time after that they just don’t have the flavor I want. My fruit herbals I don’t even bother resteeping because the initial steep time is 10 minutes and there just isn’t any flavor left. Same goes for most of my rose herbals by the second steep you just don’t get any of the rose.

3. I occasionally use dried fruit and add it when I’m steeping, but again this is another thing you’ll need to play with because it largely boils down to taste preference. Some fruits turn the tea bitter when left in for a long time. Sometimes it is a subtle bitterness, but I hate bitter teas so I’m rather picky about this. I use fresh fruit with my iced tea, but I tend to add those last once I’m ready to put it in the refrigerator to cool.

4. Ginger and peppermint are great for upset stomachs, I’ve used that as a remedy for as long as I can remember. Actually, peppermint is great for a lot of things.

When my son was a baby I made an tisane with fennel, ginger, peppermint, chamomile and sugar water to stop his hiccups. Worked like a charm every single time. In the US they sell something similar called gripe water, but it’s really expensive so I just made it myself.

For coughs I make up fruit blends from dried fruit that have sour cherries or lemon in it and steep for a long time. The acid helps to break everything up temporarily when you’re congested and tends to make it hurt less when you’re coughing. My son is sick right now and he’s been drinking my sour cherry blend like it’s going out of style.

Valerian knocks me on my butt, although it just interacts with my seizure medicine. My neurologist actually recommends for his epilepsy patients who have trouble sleeping since sleep depravation is a major trigger for seizures.

If you’re taking any meds you really want to do some research on what herbs are safe/unsafe for use with them. With mine the list is extensive and the side effects can be severe. I always like to mention this because a lot of people assume incorrectly that just because it is herbal it is automatically safe. St. John’s and ginseng are the first ones to come to mind that interact poorly with a lot of medications.

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