Herbal Infusions, fruit based tisanes and floral infusions are not tea. There are only three types of tea, black tea, green tea and Oolong tea. In many countries, notably the USA, these infusions are usurping the health and other benefits of tea falsely. We give below a brief introduction to the most popular herbal infusions. Dilmah offers a selection of three herbal infusions, clearly differentiated from Dilmah black and green teas.
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
Chamomile herbal infusions are derived from the plant Matricaria recutita. It is a one-year plant, which reaches a height of approx. 55.cm. Chamomile contains 0.6% – 2.4% essential oils such as angeloyl, methacryl and flavanoids as the main constituents. The white flower heads are mechanically harvested and dried in chambers to manufacture the commercial product.
Chamomile was known for its health benefits for centuries and the ancient Egyptians dedicated it to their sun god, and used Chamomile in their aromatherapy. This legacy of Chamomile lives on. Studies have that it is beneficial for complaints such as indigestion, nervousness, depression and headaches.
In testing its Chamomile based product Kamillosan, the Chemiewerke Hamburg Pharmacy of West Germany found that it reduces gastric acid and helps prevent ulcers. It also promoted tissue regeneration after patients had operations on their intestinal tract and urinary system. Chamomile decreases histamine, implicated in ulcers and the skin swelling, puffy eyes and headaches brought about on by allergies. It is given to children for digestive and hyperactive problems.
The Greeks named Chamomiles “kamai melon” (ground apple) inspired by its distinct apple like fragrance and the Spanish called it Manzanilla or “little apple”.
Peppermint (Mentha piperita L.)
Peppermint originated from the Mediterranean but is now cultivated globally in the Balkans, Northern Europe and the USA. It is characterized by its strong aroma. It is a perennial herb with a flat root system. It reaches normally a height of approx. 2-ft and is harvested shortly before blooming. Peppermint contains 0.5 – 4 % essential oil that includes Menthol and menthol esters.
Written evidence of old Egypt indicates that Mentha plants were cultivated and exploited for medical use 1,000 years before Christian era. It also shows that Mint plants have represented a valuable object of trade, and was even accepted as tithes to pay taxes due.
Studies have shown that peppermint tea brings about considerable increase in the production of bile due to the presence of flavonoids. Peppermint leaf or extracts prepared from it are included in many (ca. 50) prepared cholagogues and bile-duct remedies, e.g. Cholagogum Nattermann (capsules, drops), etc. gastrointestinal Remedies (ca 50), e.g. Gastricholan Iberogast Ventrodigest, etc.), liver remedies (more than 10), hypnotics/sedatives (more than 10), e.g. Nerventee Stada, Esberi-Nervin drops, etc., and laxatives.
Rosehip & Hibiscus
Usually consists of 30% Hibiscus and 70 % Rosehip. Hibiscus (Hibisci flos) originated in Angola but is now cultivated throughout the tropics. It is an annual herbaceous plant with lobed leaves that grows to a height of 5 m. Flowers with a 5-lobed calyx and divided epicalyx. Hibiscus for infusions is manufactured form the dried calyxes harvested from the fruit of the species.
It is principally taken as a caffeine-free refreshing drink taken in large amounts because of the plant acids. The plant acids which are difficult to absorb act as a mild laxative.
Hibiscus has been extensively used in the African Folk medicine.
The drug is ascribed, among other things, spasmolytic, antibacterial, cholagogic, diuretic and anthelmintic properties. Studies have shown aqueous extracts of hibiscus flowers relaxes the muscles of the uterus and to lower the blood pressure.
Rosehip is derived from the plant Rosae pseudofructus. It is a shrub that grows up to a height of 5 m with thorn branches with flowers close to 5 cm in diameter with five petals. The drug consists of the dried hypanthia from various species of the genus Rosa with the fruit enclosed in them. Rosehip is native to Europe, Western and Central Asia, and North Africa but now it is cultivated in Chile, Bulgaria, Romania, China and Hungary. It was used in folk medicine as a result of its diuretic and laxative action due to the pectin and the plant acid content. Due to its high content of vitamin C Rosehip are used as breakfast teas.