When is Tea not Tea?
All true teas come from the Camellia sinensis plant, but there are dozens of other tea-like beverages around the world. Often called herbal teas, these drinks range from Chai to Mate and are often considered tea because of their similarities to true tea.
They're not just similar in preparation either: these drinks often have some of the same medical or nutritional benefits as tea. Culturally, the similarities are even more striking: everywhere they're drank, beverages made from steeped plants hold a special place in their culture.
These tea-like drinks are sometimes made from a single plant, like Mate or Rooibos, but they're often blends of several types of plants.
Fruity Friends ;)
Along with all kinds of herbal teas, fruit teas are becoming more and more popular around the world. These drinks usually use black or oolong tea as their main ingredient, with added fruits for additional layers of flavor and complexity.
Because they're blends, there's an infinite number of fruit teas out there. Every imaginable fruit can be used, and for every fruit, there's a million possible additions of spices, flowers, and herbs to perk up the flavor even more.
Here at Hayes Teas, we recommend drinking cold fruit teas during the hot summer months. But for everyone who likes cold fruit teas, there's one who loves hot fruit teas before bed on a chilly night! Try it both ways and let us know which you prefer!
Mate is the classic South American tea. It's often described as having the health effects of tea, with the kick of coffee. In some South American countries, annual consumption surpasses 10 pounds per person per year!
Like tea, Mate has tons of variations depending on region, season, and personal preference. Some people prefer more sugar than others, and some Mate producers also add fruit juice to create a South American fruit tea. Also like tea, Mate has important cultural and religious rituals surrounding its consumption. For example, it's traditional for each person in a group to drink their small cup of Mate, refill it, and pass it to the next person to repeat the cycle.
Chai is just one example of an ancient spiced tea. For generations, Indians have mixed milk, spices, and sugar with their black tea to create the familiar deliciousness of Chai. Over the past few years, Chai has exploded in popularity in the United States, with some industry experts predicting it will only continue to grow.
Everyone has their own Chai recipe, and each time we think we've found the best, we're amazed to find there's an even more delicious one out there! If you haven't had Chai yet, it's a must-try for any tea lover!
Traditional Chinese Medicinal Teas
In China, various herbal teas have been used for centuries as an integral part of traditional Chinese medicine. While many of these teas may have value, we at Hayes Tea don't supply medicinal teas out of an abundance of caution. Many may be safe, but there is uncertainty about the safety of others in larger quantities, and there are recent cases of individuals becoming ill and even dying after consuming tea purchased from traditional Chinese suppliers.
Also known as Red Tea, rooibos is made from the leaves of a South African bush whose scientific name is Aspalathus linearis. When the Dutch arrived in South Africa, tea had already become fairly popular in Europe, but was expensive and uncommon in South Africa. They found the native rooibos to be a good substitute; the popularity of rooibos has only spread since then.
In the early 1900s, scientists began conducting experiments to try to cultivate rooibos. However it would take a couple decades before they found a successful method. During this time, rooibos would become the most expensive seed in the world, as farmers rushed to satisfy demand for this delicious tea.
Along with being caffeine-free and relatively low in tannins compared to tea and coffee, rooibos is often claimed to cure a plethora of ailments from headaches to asthma and stomach aches. Whether these claims are true or not, it's definitely great for relieving stress and calming you down. Drink this tea before bed to help you get to sleep, or drink it with an afternoon snack to help prevent a sugar rush!