Tea or infusion? what am I actually drinking?

Hot beverages had had an extreme makeover in the last couple of years, going from a simple beverage from mom´s and granny´s kitchen, to a whole world of very sophisticated blends, infusions, and tisanes from very diverse places on earth. To what extend do these trendy beverages are worth to be called tea?

Going back to its origins, according to some history, tea was born in China when an emperor accidentally boiled some leaves. This leaves belonged to a plant of the Theaceae family, the Camellia Sinensis. The green leaves from this plant were further processed in many different ways to obtain black, green, white, oolong, yellow and Pu-erh teas.

Yet, the consumption of “boiled water with herbs” has been a widely spread practice in many corners of the planet. And similar to their Asian peers, chamomile, peppermint, lemongrass and other herbs have been attributed many health benefits. Is it legitimate to say that “peppermint leaves boiled in water” produce a peppermint tea?

Photo by: Jhoanna Rosales, 2017. All rights reserved

Photo by: Jhoanna Rosales, 2017. All rights reserved


Probably not, because technically tea can only be produces as the result of boiling leaves of the plant Camelia Sinensis, which is the original tea plant. If that is the case, shockingly most of us haven´t been drinking tea at all during the past years. Then what is my chamomile and lemongrass hot beverage?

An easy way to resolve the denomination issue can be reffereeing as TEA to all the beverages made of leaves of the Camelia Sinensis, while beverages made of chamomile, borage, calendula, dandelion, cloves, and their blends can be referred as HERBAL INFUSIONS.