Brewing Herbal Tea: How to Squeeze Benefits from Every Drop
Herbal teas — also known as tisanes — have been known to us for thousands of years for their medicinal, healing, and nurturing benefits. Who loves drinking herbal teas more than expecting or new moms? Not only do they omit caffeine (which doctors recommend we limit during pregnancy and nursing), but they can also help with many issues. They can calm pregnancy-induced indigestion, naturally increase your milk supply, and more.
Many unsweetened herbal teas are great for kids and babies, too! Kids love the novelty of drinking “flavored” water, and you’ll love that it’s a refreshing change from juices and soft drinks! Children also reap the benefits of herbal teas. For example, peppermint can be very soothing for constipated children, while lemon and ginger tea is wonderful for helping keep immune systems strong in the middle of winter!
In addition, you can reap the benefits of herbal teas no matter how you drink them — piping hot on a cold winter morning, or poured over ice in a refreshing iced tea. To help you get the most out of each drop of herbal tea, here are some important pointers to follow when brewing your perfect cup. We’ll cover the best methods of tea brewing for different types of tea, as well as highlight some of the best herbs and blends to use during pregnancy and new motherhood.
The Basics: Different Types of Herbal Teas
Pure herbal teas generally fall into one of these four categories:
- Root, bark and seed-based teas: such as dandelion root (chicory), ginger, cinnamon, and barley tea
- Plant and leaf-based teas: such as raspberry leaf, peppermint, and lemon verbena
- Flower-based teas: such as rosehip, jasmine, hibiscus, and chamomile
- Fruit teas: such as lemon, strawberry, and blueberry tea
Herbal teas can then be created from these via any of the following methods —
- “Bruising”: using fresh flowers, fruit, leaves, seeds, or roots, where the ingredients are gently pressed with a mortar and pestle or the back of a spoon before being brewed
- Drying: where the tea components are dried whole and packaged — this is the most common form of tea, also known as “loose leaf,” as it is not ground
- Grinding: all the ingredients are ground up slightly to produce a more uniform, blended tea — common in tea bags
Getting Started: Utensils
There aren’t many utensils needed to brew herbal tea — all you need is:
- a generous amount of fresh, filtered water
- a metal ball or mesh strainer (if you are brewing fresh or loose leaf tea)
- and a favorite cup!
If brewed correctly, many teas have a delicate flavor. That said, if you like your tea slightly sweet, we recommend adding just a touch of honey or other natural sweetener such as xylitol or stevia for best results.
For the perfect cup of herbal tea with as many health benefits as possible, it’s highly recommended to stick to 1 teabag, or roughly 1 heaped tablespoon of fresh or loose leaf tea, per person (about 6-8 ounces of water).
Now Let’s Get Brewing!
Brewing Hot Herbal Tea
Bring a deep saucepan filled with filtered water to a rolling boil (or the cheat’s way — boil it quickly in the kettle). Just be sure you’re using fresh water every time you make a new cup!
*Note: if preparing fresh green or white tea, there’s no need to bring the water to a boil, just to heat it well. These two types of tea release their benefits much better when steeped in hot water instead of boiling water.
Once the water has come to a boil, remove it from the heat source. You then have three brewing options to release your herbal tea’s benefits —
- Place your loose leaf tea into your metal ball strainer (or similar), put it in your cup, and pour water over it
- Place your tea bag into your cup and pour water over it
- Place your tea of choice directly in the saucepan — either in tea bag or loose leaf form — and swirl gently*
*With this last method, remember you will need to strain your tea using a metal kitchen strainer before drinking.
After you put your tea in, make sure you cover your cup or pan with a lid or plate while your tea is brewing. This ensures that your tea’s essential oils don’t escape along with the steam — plus it keeps it warm while you wait!
Perfect brewing times for different types of herbal tea
As a general rule, the more delicate the ingredient, the faster it brews — and in fact, leaving some faster-brewing teas in hot water for too long can result in flavors that are too strong or leave a slightly bitter aftertaste.
Most ground herbal teas and tea bags need 2-5 minutes of steeping to best release their health benefits. Loose leaf teas also need around 3-5 minutes of steeping time. Root and seed-based teas need the most time, around 6-8 minutes of steeping for best results.
Brewing cold or iced tea
To make cold or iced herbal tea, follow any one of the three methods above. Once the tea has cooled, you can add some more cool, filtered water at this point to dilute the flavor if it is very strong. Sweeten if necessary and pour the tea over ice cubes.
That’s all there is to it! If you follow these guidelines, you’re bound to have an excellent cup of tea that’s packed to the brim with health benefits!
In this next section, we’ll show you some of the most common types and blends of tea that are great for different stages of motherhood — and their various health benefits!
Herbal Teas for Pregnant, Nursing, and Busy Moms
During pregnancy —
Ginger tea: wonderful to help relieve the symptoms of morning sickness. Recommended to sip slowly whenever you feel nauseous or dizzy. Ginger is also very energizing and increases blood circulation, so it’s wonderful both during your first and third trimesters.
Raspberry leaf tea: many pregnant women drink raspberry leaf tea from around 24 weeks onwards (not during the first trimester), as it purportedly helps tone uterine muscles for an easier, smoother labor.
Peppermint tea: the cooling and soothing properties of peppermint tea help ease heartburn and indigestion that can be brought on by pregnancy. While not a laxative, peppermint can also help encourage natural movements during pregnancy.
*Important: There are some herbs that are not recommended during pregnancy – such as sage and wormwood. If you are unsure about using any herbs, ask your physician or health practitioner first.
For Postpartum/New Moms —
Fenugreek tea: this tea is well-known for as it can help new mothers increase their milk supply. It is also a blood tonic and gently helps to purify and detox your body.
Chamomile: an excellent herbal tea that helps you to unwind, relax your muscles, and sleep more soundly at night. Can also help relieve headaches.
Nettle and Raspberry leaf tea: also great for naturally encouraging a healthy milk supply, raspberry leaf tea also helps ease postpartum afterpains and help your uterus return to its normal size.
Fennel tea: can be consumed in small amounts to help you (and your new baby!) with gas and bloating.
For Busy Moms (and their kids too!) —
Lemon tea: made from fresh or dried lemons (and drunk either hot or cold), this is a hit with kids and their busy ecocentric moms alike! Lemon is a natural anti-bacterial agent, so it’s a great tea for encouraging healthy immune systems all year long.
Mint tea: milder than peppermint, mint tea is excellent for calming sore stomachs, as well as after meals to aid digestion. And, as noted before, if anyone in the family is constipated… this tea can help get things moving naturally.
Hibiscus tea: it is a wonderful source of vitamin C and can also help increase metabolism.
Dandelion (Chicory) root tea: a great substitute for coffee, dandelion or chicory root tea tastes just like coffee when brewed — only without the caffeine. If you’re tired and feeling like you crave caffeine, try this instead — it will do the trick without you suffering from a caffeine crash later on.
What is your favorite tea? We want to hear!
A freelance copywriter and content strategist, Eden is also a crunchy, eco-mom to 4 healthy kids (under the age of 6!). When not busy writing, she loves getting her hands dirty by making her own yogurt, mixing homemade laundry detergent, or chasing her kids in the garden with a Super Soaker.