There are a lot of teas out on the market. You see them in grocery stores, at farmer's market, and just about everywhere. The question is, are these just tasty drinks or it there value to some of the health claims on tea boxes.
Ok. So first let's talk about tea versus tisane. Tea is what most of us call that warm, or cold, cup of liquid that comes as a result of seeping dried leaves in hot water. Tea is also what we call the liquid that comes from steeping herbs that we expect to recieve some type of healing benefit from. So is it all really tea?
Tisanes are really more the prepackaged "tea" you buy from grocery stores. Now this doesn't mean they have no value. It really means they have a low ratio of plant material to water. This may not really affect much if you are drinking the beverage for the flavor, but if you are drinking an herbal tea to gain some type of system support stated on the box you will need to adjust a few things. One, at least double up on the bags per cup. Medicinal teas are usually about a 1:4 ratio. (The one represents the plant matter while the four represents the liquid.) Second, let the beverage seep for a minimum of 20 minutes. Anything less will give you the flavor, but you will miss out on whatever medicinal support the herb may have to offer. Also, consider how long the herbal tea may have been sitting on the grocery shelf. Dried herbs last for quite some time, but they do lose potentency as time passes.
Medicinal teas are good for long term use, some chronic conditions, and for overall preventative health care. They differ from tisanes in many ways. One, they are typically purchased from a source in bulk at a fresher stage than store bought options. They are used in higher concentration (1:4) that typical tisanes. This makes that one cup of tea a powerful delivery system in which your body will get the most benefit from the herb's water soluable consituents. Medicinal teas can be steeped for as long as overnight depending on the herb being used. Some tend to get bitter and less tasty past the twenty minute mark, while others need an overnight soaking to really release their medicine in to the water. Daily consumption of medicinal teas is the best way to get long term results. You certainly want to consult with a local herbalist to determine how much, how often, and how long you should drink your newly found medicinal tea.