The Many Kinds of Herbal Teas
As opposed to black tea, oolong tea, white tea, yellow tea, and green tea, herbal tea is not made from the leaves of the tea bush (Camellia sinensis). Instead, herbal tea in an infusion of flowers, roots, seeds, or leaves other than those from the tea plant.
Herbal tea comes in many varieties, including:
Tea from Flowers: Chrysanthemum tea which is often served with Dim sum, lotus flower tea, and lime blossom tea which is made from the dried flowers of the lime tree.
Tea from Roots: Ginger root tea, South Pacific Kava root tea that is thought to make one relaxed and talkative, and licorice root tea.
Tea from Seeds: Anise tea (made from seeds of leaves).
Tea from Grains: Roasted barley tea, known in Korea as bori cha and in Japan as mugicha, the taste is similar to coffee and is usually served cold; roasted wheat tea also has a taste reminiscent of coffee; roasted corn tea, known as oksusu cha in Korea; and toasted rice tea, known as sungnyung in Korea.
Tea from Fruit: Citrus peel teas include lemon, orange, and bergamot peel teas.
Tea from Other Plants: Bissap, catnip and chamomile tea used to calm, echinacea used to alleviate and help prevent cold and flu symptoms, Essiac tea used to treat cancer, fennel, hibiscus used for longevity, honeybush, gentian, horehound, labrador, lapacho made from the inner bark of the Lapacho tree, lemongrass, coca tea made from coca leaves, mint teas, European mistletoe, nettle leaf, raspberry leaf, rooibos tea AKA red tea touted for its antioxidants, rose hip, sage, sassafras, skullcap, thyme, tulsi, vetiver, wong logat, woodruff, yarrow, yerba mate, and yuen kut lam kam wo tea.
While most other teas contain caffiene and act as stimulants, herbal teas generally do not contain any (unless blended with other teas like they sometimes are), though some still stimulate while others act as sedatives. Herbal teas are often drunk for their effects or medicinal properties.
Most herbal teas are safe, but some cause allergic reactions and a few are even toxic. The teas of most concern are comfrey, which can cause liver damage; lobelia, which contains nicotine-like toxins; pineapple weed and chamomile tea, which cause violent allergic reactions in some and can lead to death. Because of the dangers associated with some plants, it is highly recommended that an inexperienced user not make tea with wild plants.