Most herbal tea is a waste of tap water. Chamomile just tastes like weeds. I’ve drank it at night hoping for some of the alleged sleep-inducing properties it’s supposed to contain, but I can’t say it’s done me much good. Celestial Seasonings has done for the tea business what Chef Boyardee did for Italian food. Cheapened it and made it disgusting.
Basically, I want tea that’s going to do something for me physiologically. Camellia sinensis (what regular black or green tea is made from) gives me a low dose of caffeine, as well as a bunch of antioxidents, which is reason enough. Lemon Zinger has hibiscus, which some say also has health benefits due to antioxidents, but it tastes like when I used to eat sumac berries as a kid. I don’t need it as an adult.
There are a couple of exceptions, however. Late at night when I don’t want caffeine I sometimes have Tazo Passion tea, which is OK. It’s like unsweetened Kool-Aid, and it’s at least better than that Celestial Seasonings Red Zinger stuff. But much better and with better health benefits (at least I like to think so) is rooibos, or “red tea.” I think I read in a Boston Herald article years ago that some people claim it has like 50 times the antioxidents of green tea. I don’t believe it (it’s the Herald), but I guess it made some impression on me because I started drinking rooibos and actually found a blend that I like. By itself, rooibos is only barely palatable, but at my favorite tea store, Virtuous Teas in Auburndale (that’s part of Newton) there is something called rooibos melange which is really good. I don’t know how to describe it except it’s like drinking flowers without the bitter aftertaste of real flowers. (Remember, I am a man who ate sumac as a child. I know.) So if it’s got just a couple times the amount of antioxidents of green tea, I’ll go with it just because it’s better than most herbal teas for when I don’t want to stay awake all night.
Additionally, I’d like to quote Wikipedia as to one other benefit of rooibos for those among us who keep frogs:
In 2010, eleven poison dart frogs were raised at WWT Slimbridge by amphibian keepers in pint glasses of water, topped up with shop-bought Rooibos tea. Rooibos was used because it contains antioxidants with anti-fungal properties. This successfully protected the frogs against infection by chytridiomycosis.
So if it’s good enough for frogs and better than sumac, it’s good enough for me.