Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Herbal tea an exotic product, but homey concept

Many years ago, when I first heard about herbal tea, it sounded exotic. On some gourmet store shelves in the United States, I found orange pekoe, raspberry, lemon-ginger, and other teas.

Actually, when I think about it, I have been drinking herbal tea since I was a child growing up in India. I remember drinking ginger tea, for instance, as a boy. My mother gave me ginger tea when I had a sore throat. The way my mother made was simple. All you do is grate or grind (on the stone grinder) an inch of fresh ginger root and squeeze it into hot tea liquor. You may add creamer or milk, but just black is better, I guess, for remedial purposes.

Similarly, making lemon/lime tea is simple. In hot tea liquor, just squeeze a few drops of the citrus. For an Indian touch, you may add a pinch of black salt. I make cardamom tea from whole pods dropped in boiling water. How refreshing and aromatic the tea becomes!

These days, even in Indian grocery stores, you find several kinds of herbal teas, including masala chai. I bought the other day a “variety pack” comprising masala, lemongrass-ginger, ginger and cardamom. To alleviate my sore throat, I tasted the ginger tea. It had flavor, but not nearly so strong and fresh as the home-made version.

Dear reader, do you make herbal tea or buy it?


Cinnamon said...

I make ginger tea at home.. but I also like other flavors like mint, fennel, apple which I buy....
Home made or store bought... they taste good!!!

Happy cook said...

I make spicy indian tea at home adding ginger, cloves, cardamom etc.... the rest is shop bought for me

Amitabh said...

Aah! herbal tea :) - so nice. Once I came to America, I have been using ginger religously in my morning (and other times) tea. The size of my tea serving has grown since America seems to have bigger cups. Everything seems to be a little bigger here, in particular, food and drink sizes, and cloth sizes, which is said to be positively correlated to tummy sizes. What surprised me is most non-Indians I served tea to here prefer lots of milk in their tea! I rather prefer but a touch, but maybe that's more british than Indian.

Anonymous said...


I came across your site while foodsurfing. Your question prompted me to think about my own tea drinking habits. I began drinking tea (black) with an English lady in Germany many years ago. Returning to US, I began drinking herbal teas made from bulk. This was in the days Celestial Seasonings brand was sold in food coops in either bulk or boxed in tea packets and Lipton was the only tea to be found in supermarkets.

Travels to China have introduced me to less fermented teas like oolong and pu'er and Chinese and Japanese green tea. Additionally various flower teas and herb teas are made from Chinese medicines.

No doubt, I much prefer my tea the traditional way, without the bag. This way I can see the quality of the flower, herb, leaf which in turn makes a huge difference in taste. Which is only one aspect of making a good cup of tea.

Just a few days ago I was playing around with the flavors I have in my kitchen and discovered lemongrass tea. Fresh ginger is a delicious warming drink in the cooler weather. Combining the two sounds delicious.

Thanks for prompting me to think about how my tea drinking habits developed.


gwf3 said...

Out of long habit I use CelestialSeasonings herbal teas. Having inherited my Grandaddy George Frink's passion for cooking from scratch and having read other responses here, I've put ginger+selected herbs tea on my cook-next list. What about pressed coffee with herbs?
Ginger & cinnamen work well. Others?

Anonymous said...

gwf: I am sure ginger teas would work well with any of the spices or seasonings that work well with it in cooking.

happy cook uses cinnamon, ginger and cardomon. I think cardoman goes well in ANYTHING!

And for garlic fans, how about ginger and garlic tea?!

I have no idea about coffee with herbs....but some coffee is topped with nutmeg. Try making your cup of coffee without the cream and just add the nutmeg.

VegeYum @ A Life (Time) of Cooking said...

Oh how extraordinary that I came across you today! I love herbal tea, and recently wrote about it too. i would love you to have a look. Love your site. Thank you so much for your thought provoking posts.

Angshuman said...

Thanks to all those of you who posted comments. Your posts are smart, too.

BTW, I want to make a correction. Orange pekoe is actually not herbal tea. It's pure tea made from the smallest and youngest leaves of the shoot. The word orange refers to the color when the tea is brewed, not to its flavor.


Tania said...

Well, I love herbal tea, but, if you would like a really innovative taste, your should drink an excellent Italian product called "Fitness Caffè" (with healthy herbs and oriental spices). I brew it like my usual filter coffee machine (10 grams of powdwer for a cup of 200 ml).

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