What Is Chinese Herbal Tea (Features and Application)

Chinese herbal tea refers to the tea made by brewing or boiling Chinese herbs (single or compound).

Chinese herbal tea is a traditional dosage form made under the guidance of the principles of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), based on the combination of dialectics and disease diagnose, for the prevention and treatment of diseases, recovering after an illness or health care.

Herbs (or herbal medicine) are made from the flower, leaf, seed, or root of the plants. They are primary medicine in ancient times. At present, there are about 12,000 kinds of medical plants discovered in China. Most of the herbs can be made into tea.

Chrysanthemum tea, honeysuckle tea, ginger tea, barley tea, etc. are the common and simple herbal teas we drink in the daily life. Some advanced herbal teas require more high-level material, such as ginseng, ganoderma, polygonum multiflorum (synonyms Fallopia multiflora and He Shou Wu in Chinese pinyin), etc.

1. History of Chinese herbal tea

Herbal tea is an important part of the treasury of traditional Chinese medicine. It has a very long history of application. It has been recorded in the medicinal books of the past and the earliest record of the herbal tea prescription was during the Three Kingdoms period (220-280 AD). The tea prescription includes how to take it and its effects.

In the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), Sun Simiao, a Chinese physician, recorded 10 herbal tea prescriptions such as bamboo shavings with reed rhizome tea in his medicinal book called <Qian Jin Yao Fang>. And another Chinese physician called Wang Tao wrote a medicinal book <Wai Tai Mi Yao> which recorded in detail the production and drinking method of herbal tea.

In the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD), there is a special introduction of herbal tea in <He Ji Ju Fang> compiled by the imperial physician. Among them, Szechwan lovage rhizome tea can be regarded as an early product of herbal tea.

In the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), a Chinese physician Zou Xuan wrote two herbal tea prescriptions including Salvinia tea and Xanthium tea in his medicinal book which is about health care for the elderly. In addition, Hu Sihui, the imperial physician of the Yuan Dynasty, recorded the production, efficacy and main treatment of various herbal teas in his medicinal book.

In the Ming Dynasty (1518-1593), the famous Chinese herbalist Li Shizhen recorded many herbal tea prescriptions in his famous medicinal book <Compendium of Materia Medica>.

In the Qing Dynasty (1636-1912), herbal tea therapy was popular and the contents, application scope, and production methods of herbal tea were constantly updated and enriched. Herbal tea has become an integral part of royal medicine.

Through the application, exertion, and perfection of medicinal experts in the past dynasties, herbal tea has become a major feature of the prevention, treatment and health care of the Chinese people.

Since modern times, the health care function of herbal tea has been paid more and more attention by people. A large number of antihypertensive tea, slimming tea and afternoon tea have emerged, which has enriched and expanded the types and functions of herbal teas.

2. Features of Chinese herbal tea

Chinese herbal tea has played an important role in medical and health care. It has the following advantages:

Easy to make and take

Herbal tea can be increased or decreased the dosage according to the needs of the disease, and people can choose the appropriate use method according to the efficacy of the herbs.

The procedure of making it is simple and the pertinence of its efficacy is strong. It not only maintains the therapeutic effect of the traditional Chinese medicine decoction, but also overcomes the disadvantages of traditional decoction, such as tedious decocting and inconvenient to carry and store.

Significant curative effect

Herbs are brewed in boiling water or slightly decocted before drinking, which avoids the loss of some components, especially the effective components of aromatic drugs, caused by the processing and long-term decocting of the decoction.

On the other hand, it can quickly degrade and inactivate the enzymes in the decoction, avoiding the decomposition and destruction of the effective components.

It is particularly suitable to make into herbal tea for the herbs that are not resistant to high temperature such as donkey hide gelatin, antler gum and caramel, and the aromatic herbs which contain more volatile oil such as mint, Agastache, elsholtzia, Artemisia annua, honeysuckle and so on.

Mild medicinal property

From the perspective of medicinal property, herbal tea has a gentle and mild property, no risk of stomach injury, and its taste is sweeter or slightly bitter. It has the advantaged of disease treatment and no shortcoming of being too bitter to swallow. It is especially suitable for children.

Suitable for long-term drinking

Because of its mild properties, herbal tea can be taken for a long time, especially for the treatment of chronic diseases and adjustment of body functions.

For many diseases, drinking herbal tea for a long time can make the effective ingredients of the medicine reach the standard in the body, so that the efficacy is more consolidated and the effect is more lasting. For example, patients with urinary calculi can keep the concentration of medicine in urinary tract after drinking herbal tea for many times.

3. Application scope of herbal tea

Prevention and treatment of diseases

Internal diseases

Internal diseases can be divided into exogenous diseases and internal injuries. Exogenous diseases mainly refer to febrile diseases such as typhoid fever, wind-cold, heat, and dampness.

Internal injury can be divided into lung, heart, spleen, stomach, liver, kidney and other diseases. Most of them can be treated by herbal tea. Ancient and modern books contain numerous herbal tea prescriptions for the prevention and treatment of internal diseases.

Surgical diseases

There are many kinds of surgical diseases in traditional Chinese medicine, including sores, skin diseases, anus diseases, and tumor diseases. It can obtain a good curative effect to prevent and treat surgical diseases by drinking herbal tea.

For example, the cancer is treated by surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, if it can be combined with appropriate herbal tea therapy, it can reduce the side effects of the above treatment and improve the curative effect.

Gynecological diseases

For the prevention and treatment of gynecological diseases, there are many folk herbal tea prescriptions. For example, drinking the lalang grass rhizome tea can cure the symptoms of early menstruation and excessive menstruation. Herbal tea made from glutinous rice, Astragalus membranaceus, and Ligusticum wallichii has the function of regulating blood and calming the fetus.

ENT Diseases

Herbal tea has been proved effective in the prevention and treatment of common ENT (eyes, nose, throat) and eye diseases.

Recovering after illness

In the imperial palace of the Qing Dynasty, herbal tea was widely used to regulate the body after illness or in the late stage of the disease. It can nourish the stomach and regulate blood to recover the body function.

Health care

Herbal tea has the function of anti-aging, skincare, detoxifying, promoting digestion, weight loss and so on. It is very popular among all kinds of people.

4. Drinking method of herbal tea

There are three main drinking methods of herbal tea:

  • Brewing: some herbs such as flower herbs, leaf herbs, sliced herbs can be brewed with boiling water.
  • Decocting: the effective ingredients of some herbs can’t come out in boiling water, so they must be decocted.
  • Mixing: some herbs are powder, which can be mixed with a small amount of boiled water and made into paste state.

5. Drinking time of herbal tea

The choice of time for drinking herbal tea should be based on the nature of herbal tea and the condition of the disease.

  • Tonic herbal tea: it should be taken before meals to make it fully absorbed.
  • Laxative herbal tea: take it on an empty stomach in the morning to make it fully absorbed.
  • Herbal tea for calming the nerves: it should be taken before going to bed at night.
  • Herbal tea for treatment of chronic diseases: it should be a certain rule to make it regular and lasting.