Organic Herbal Teas

Great love affairs start with Champagne and end with tisane.

― Honoré de Balzac

One of the main things that we have to remember about eczema is that it is not just a “skin condition”, therefore, treating it from the outside will not result in a cure. The condition of your skin is a reflection of what is happening inside your body. If your main organs of elimination (liver, lungs, colon, kidneys, and the skin (through perspiration)) are not working optimally, then toxins will be forced to come out through the secondary sources of elimination – the skin (through rashes, acne, eczema, etc.) or the mucous membranes (in the form of allergic rhinitis or congestion). Therefore, any skin condition must always be treated from the inside out.

Herbal tea is also known under the name of tisane. The word has its origins in Greek from “ptisanē” which literally would translate as “crushed barley”. The Chinese call it “liang cha”, which would translate as “cooling tea” because they use herbal tea to cool down the body’s temperature when someone is feeling ill.

Herbal tea or tisane is in fact a catch-all term used for any non-caffeinated beverages made from the infusion or decoction of herbs, spices, or other plant material. That is why in some countries, mostly in Europe, tisanes or herbal teas are also known as infusions.

Herbal tea have been used for nearly as long as written history extends. There are documents which are dated back as early as Ancient Egypt or Ancient China. Those documents talk about the actual enjoyment in drinking herbal tea, which were and still are regarded as social leant. The documents also show the practical, medicinal use of these beverages.

Herbal teas are not the same with the varieties of tea, green, black, white, oolong or pu’erh. All the tea varieties come from one plant known popularly as the tea plant and for the botanists as Camellia Sinensis. Herbal teas are made of dried flowers, leaves, seeds and any other plant material different from the classic tea plant.

Another important difference is the caffeine composition part. Herbal teas don’t contain at all caffeine, while any variety of tea does because the tea plant itself has caffeine in its composition.

Another difference between teas and herbal teas appears when it comes to preparation. Teas are steeped with hot not boiled water because otherwise they would lose their natural properties and aroma, while for herbal teas, boiled water is generally used.

Though documentation that defines the first appearance of herbal teas is scarce, Chinese legend tells the story of Shennong, the Divine Farmer, who may have lived from 2737 BC to 2697 BC. Shennong was passionate about the use of herbs in pursuit of good health, and he used his own body to test the effects of various combinations. According to the legend, he was about to enjoy a cup of hot water while sitting outdoors, when a nearby tree blew leaves into his drink. Intrigued, he tasted the infusion and discovered a new way to prepare herbs for consumption.

In written form, the earliest surviving record describing herbal teas is a medical text written in the third century AD. Chinese physician and surgeon Hua T’o was a pioneer in the field of medicine, and it is thought that his calling was inspired by his work with the wounded soldiers fighting in the many wars during that period.

T’o is credited with creating one of the first anaesthetics, mafeisan, prepared with wine and hemp. He is known for his skill in preparing herbal treatments, essentially herbal teas, made through decoction of medicinal plants. The tradition continues in China today, with herbal teas holding their place as a primary method for preventing and alleviating a variety of health conditions.

Like the Chinese, ancient Egyptians were masters in the use of medicinal herbs. Egyptians have enjoyed various herbal remedies for thousands of years, and documents from 1550 BC make specific mention of using certain plants to treat particular ailments. For example, dill was named as an effective laxative, and basil was suggested as a treatment for heart issues.

Egyptians administered the herbs to patients through herbal teas, in addition to having them eat the plants whole. However, it wasn’t until 1070 BC that tea became a standard beverage in Egyptian culture. Records show that Egyptians purchased tea in China as early as 1070 BC.

Given that tea is integral to Japanese culture, many believe that the Japanese began using teas and herbal teas during the same period as their Chinese and Egyptian counterparts. However, records indicate that tea wasn’t truly introduced in Japan until the reign of Emperor Shōmu (724 through 749 AD). While some people may have relied on herbal teas for medicinal purposes before this period, Emperor Shōmu’s interest in the beverage precipitated Japan’s production of teas and the creation of the traditional Tea Ceremony.

Teas and herbal teas are a significant part of European culture today, but this wasn’t always so. In fact, it wasn’t until the 16th century that Western Europe started to develop a taste for tea. Merchants from Portugal were some of the first to sample Chinese teas and herbal teas, bringing the beverage with them upon returning home. By the 17th century, tea use was widespread in Europe, making a particular impact in Britain. The British saw an opportunity for profit in the extended kingdom – creating a market in India and selling tea to Indian consumers.

Tea came to the Americas with explorers of the New World, and today, use of herbal teas is gaining popularity as an alternative to expensive pharmaceuticals.