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  • Writer's pictureTea Para Ti

Green Tea Vs Herbal Tea: What's the Difference?

Green tea vs herbal tea banner for page label on green tea and herbal tea mugs

For regular tea drinkers or those looking to incorporate tea into their daily routine, you might be wondering what the biggest differences are between green tea vs herbal tea. The thing is, both of these tea types offer a lot of different benefits and experiences for the drinker, but they are each unique in their characteristics.

And, depending on what you're looking to get out of your brew, you may find that green tea is more up your alley, or rather, a nice herbal tea is just what you need. The choice "boils" down to a few factors.

So, let's find out what really distinguishes green tea and herbal teas, so you can choose what's best for you!

10 Differences Between Green Tea and Herbal Tea

Green tea and herbal teas are some of the most well-known teas out there. Whether you've tried both yourself, have incorporated them into your regular tea regimen, or you're just curious about how these two beverages differ, here is a list of all the ways we know.

(Note that these are not in any particular order!)

1. The Origins of Green Tea Vs Herbal tea

Three ceramic cups, two filled with green tea, one with herbal tea, on a table next to two small silver spoons

Let's start with the basics — origin.

Green tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant, which is the same plant that black tea and white tea come from. Unlike black tea, though, green leaves undergo minimal oxidation, preserving its many natural antioxidants and nutrients, which translate to a number of different health benefits.

Although green tea is grown in many different countries, the largest producer is China, which also happens to be the largest consumer of green tea as well.

Compared to green tea, herbal tea doesn't trace its origins to the Camellia sinensis plant, and can instead be found in different variations all over the world. That's because herbal teas generally consist of various plant parts—leaves, flowers, seeds, and roots—that are dried out and brewed in hot water to give the drinker (you!) a diverse range of flavors and also health benefits.

Some well-known herbal teas are hibiscus, roobios, ginger, and sage tea, and if you're a big tea drinker, chances are you've tried at least a few of these already.

2. Green Tea Vs Herbal Tea in Culture

A traditional tea ceremony

Certain teas carry significant cultural importance, and green tea is a prime illustration of this. In countries like China and Japan, green tea has been an integral part of traditional ceremonies and communal events for centuries, practices that continue to hold deep meaning and relevance in contemporary times.

Of course, you'll still see green tea ceremonies and loads of green tea appreciation in these countries today. Though, it may not always be consumed in the traditional way, and you'll find green tea has evolved to be adapted to many delicious drinks, desserts, and other dishes.

Herbal tea, however, is more diverse than green tea in the sense that each part of the world may have their own brews and blends that are traditionally consumed. For instance, yerba maté is consumed widely throughout Latin America, accompanying all different occasions. And, a cup of chamomile tea in the United States may be the go-to for people who are experiencing a stressful event and need to relax, while in India, the spiced warmth of chai tea isn't just a beverage; it's a hallmark of cultural identity and a gesture of hospitality that spans generations.

3. What's in Green Tea Vs Herbal Tea?

A wall of different herbs in glass canisters

And, now...the good stuff. What is actually in green tea versus what'sin herbal tea. What compounds make up these powerful tonic that set them apart? Take a look, below:

Green Tea:

  • Catechins: Green tea is abundant in catechins, particularly EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), a powerful antioxidant with numerous health benefits.

  • L-Theanine: This amino acid is unique to tea, promoting relaxation and a sense of calm alongside the caffeine-induced alertness.

  • Polyphenols: Besides catechins, green tea boasts other polyphenols with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

  • Vitamins and minerals: Green tea is a source of vitamins (such as vitamin C) and minerals (like potassium and magnesium), contributing to its overall nutritional value.

  • Caffeine: Green tea contains moderate levels of caffeine, providing a gentle energy boost without the jitters often associated with higher caffeine sources. More on this in a bit!

Herbal Tea:

  • Plant compounds: Herbal teas encompass a diverse range of plant-derived compounds, each offering distinct health benefits.

  • Specific constituents: To elaborate on the above, each herbal tea carries unique active constituents; for instance, chamomile contains apigenin for relaxation, while ginger boasts gingerol for potential anti-inflammatory effects.

  • Flavonoids: Different herbal teas contain various flavonoids, which contribute to their color, flavor, and antioxidant properties.

  • Essential oils: Herbs used in herbal teas often contain essential oils, responsible for their aromatic and therapeutic qualities.

  • Caffeine-free: When it comes to herbal tea vs green tea, herbal teasdiffere are naturally caffeine-free, making them an excellent choice for those seeking a soothing beverage without caffeine's stimulant effects.

4. The Caffeine Content of Green Tea Vs Herbal Tea

A white ceramic tea kettle and mug on saucer on a small brown table outdoors

Essentially, green tea has caffeine in it while herbal tea does not. But, let's dig a little deeper.

A lot of people may choose green tea over coffee because of the lower caffeine levels. Additionally, because it's got that calming amino acid L-theanine, you get a little boost of energy if you need it but also some relaxation effects, too — which, may sound strange, but try swapping green tea for coffee on a Sunday morning and you'll see what we mean!

If you'd rather avoid caffeine altogether, though, herbal tea is a great alternative. Get all the perks of a nice, warm beverage that'll truly settle you down.

5. The Types of Antioxidants in Green Tea Vs Herbal Tea

A white mug with brewed herbal tea and two ceramic cups with herbs, displayed on a white table with green leaves

Antioxidants are no doubt a big selling point for both green tea and herbal tea. However, while they both boast a number of antioxidants, there are differences especially in terms of what those antioxidants do for your body.

To start, green tea stands out with its notable reservoir of EGCG, which me mentioned a little earlier. EGCG's prowess in neutralizing free radicals has drawn attention for its potential in mitigating oxidative stress and promoting cellular health, making green tea a popular choice.

On the other hand, herbal teas showcase a diverse collection of antioxidants originating from a range of botanical sources. Hibiscus tea', for example, owes its vibrant hue to its anthocyanin content, which also contributes to potential cardiovascular advantages.

In both cases, these antioxidants work to improve your overall wellness, but your personal health goals and preferences may dictate whether you should go for herbal tea or green tea. Of course, the beautiful thing about tea is you can switch back and forth depending on your needs at the moment.

6. How Green Tea Vs Herbal Tea Tastes

A blurry image of a woman pouring tea from a copper kettle into a mug, surrounded by many tea mugs at a table

If you like green tea, then it probably has something to do with how good it taste, right?

But, how would you actually describe it? We'll try out best.

Green tea is known to have "grassy" or "earthy" quality, to subtly sweet, vegetal undertones. Often, it carries a brisk and invigorating flavor, sometimes accompanied by hints of umami that add depth to its taste. Of course, the intensity of the flavor will depend on the strength of the brew.

Herbal teas, however, encompass a diverse range of flavors because there are so many types of herbal teas. This is nice because it allows you to also choose the herbal teas that you like more based on taste. If you like something refreshing, you can go for mint tea, but if you want something more sweet, you can go for a roobios tea.

For many people, that's the beauty of herbal tea, because you can mix it up depending on what you're in the mood for!

7. Variations of Green Tea Vs Herbal Tea

Green tea leaves in a burlap spice bag, with a sign that reads "green leaf - tea Kashmiri"

As we mentioned above, green tea is a lot more direct in its flavors as compared to herbal tea. But, depending on which variation of green tea you take, your palate will pick up different notes. This, again, may also have to do with how long you brew it for.

To start, some of the green tea variations that rare more well known might be Sencha tea, or green tea with brown rice. And, we all know and love matcha!

Herbal teas are a bit different in the variations come more from different brands and blends. The beautiful thing about herbal teas is there are ways to make your own, or find interesting blends in tea shops that you may not have otherwise imagined.

All this considered, there are also some great green tea and herbal blends (which, would solve any indecisiveness). We'll cover some of those later on!

8. The Health Benefits of Green Tea Vs Herbal Tea

A white mug with herbal tea with a slice of lemon, on a marble table with lemon slices, tea bags, and gold spoons

One of the main reasons tea drinkers might want to know the difference between herbal tea and green tea is because of the distinct health and wellness benefits. While both of these tea types have a lot to offer, there are some distinctions:

Green Tea:

  • Heart health: EGCG's antioxidant properties potentially aid in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels and supporting optimal blood vessel function.

  • Metabolic boost: Green tea has been studied for its potential to boost metabolism, aiding in weight management and energy expenditure.

  • Antioxidant defense: The robust antioxidant content, particularly EGCG, helps combat free radicals and oxidative stress, contributing to overall well-being.

  • Calm focus: Green tea promotes a state of calm focus through its caffeine-L-theanine partnership, offering heightened concentration without restlessness.

  • Cognitive enhancement: The presence of EGCG in green tea is associated with improved memory, sharper attention, and enhanced mental clarity.

Herbal Tea:

  • Digestive comfort: Peppermint tea's natural compounds can soothe gastrointestinal discomfort, alleviating bloating and indigestion.

  • Immune support: Herbal teas like echinacea and elderberry are renowned for their potential to bolster the immune system and promote resilience.

  • Liver health: Certain herbal teas, like milk thistle and licorice root, are believed to support liver function, which plays a central role in detoxifying the body by filtering out toxins and waste products.

  • Better sleep: Chamomile and valerian root teas contribute to improved sleep quality, potentially alleviating insomnia.

  • Personalized well-being: Herbal teas offer tailored benefits, ranging from lavender's soothing qualities to the invigorating warmth of ginger.

Both green tea and herbal teas can work as detox drinks, that work to cleanse the body. They also can do wonders for your skin and your overall physical well being. (Did you know some people take green tea baths, and that it's believed green tea can help with hangovers?!)

And, it's important to remember that individual reactions can vary. Green tea might work for stress relief one day but not as effectively another, prompting a switch to herbal tea. Keeping both varieties at hand allows you to find what aligns best with your wellness goals and personal preferences.

Health Considerations for Green Tea & Herbal Tea

A woman in a kitchen holding a mug of tea close to her chest

Despite their myriad benefits, both green tea and herbal tea come with certain health considerations that are important to keep in mind:

Green Tea:

  • Caffeine sensitivity: Green tea's caffeine content—while milder than coffee—can still affect individuals sensitive to caffeine. Moderation is advised for those prone to palpitations, restlessness, or anxiety induced by caffeine.

  • Interference with nutrient absorption: Tannins in green tea may hinder the absorption of non-heme iron from plant-based foods, potentially affecting individuals at risk of iron deficiency or relying on plant-based iron sources.

  • Gastrointestinal distress: The tannins in green tea can be harsh on sensitive stomachs, leading to digestive discomfort or acid reflux in susceptible individuals.

Herbal Tea:

  • Allergic reactions: Allergic reactions to certain botanicals can occur with herbal teas. Being aware of allergies or sensitivities is crucial before introducing new herbal teas.

  • Potential herb-drug interactions: Some herbal teas may interact with prescription medications, impacting their effectiveness or causing adverse reactions. Consult a healthcare professional before incorporating new herbal teas if you're on medication regimens.

Note: For those who are pregnant, keep in mind that both green tea — due to the caffeine — and certain herbal teas — like chamomile and licorice root — due to their belief to cause fetal effects—are cautioned against during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Whether pregnant, nursing, or not, if you have any health concerns at all, please meet with a certified health professional to give you the appropriate guidance on incorporating these teas into your routine.

9. How Green Tea Vs Herbal Tea is Brewed

A kettle of green tea on a table, next to a white mug and take-out coffee cup

Another big difference between green tea and herbal tea is how they are brewed. To start, the main difference is that green tea should not be steeped in boiling water, while herbal tea must be steeped in boiling water. Aside from this, the way you brew green tea vs herbal tea depends on what "version" of that tea you're brewing (i.e., a tea bag, loose leaves, etc.):

Green Tea:

Green tea can be brewed in different ways, ranging from steeping loose leaves to preparing powdered matcha. While loose leaves grant you the freedom to control the infusion time, water temperature, and tea-to-water ratio (which can impact the flavor you're aiming for), matcha generally involved whisking powdered tea with hot water to create a velvety concoction that's as much about the process as the result.

Of course, you can always buy green tea bags if you want green tea quickly. Just keep in mind the quality of the experience might be a little less impressive.

Herbal Tea:

Unlike green tea, herbal tea can actually be a bit more involved, as different herbs call for specific steeping times and water temperatures. The upside of this, though, is that the versatile nature of herbal tea allows for brewing unique blends. Of course, like green tea, you can always shop for herbal tea bags if you don't have a ton of time on your hands.

And, what will you need to brew green tea and herbal tea?

For green tea, essentials include a teapot, infuser, or gaiwan for loose leaves, and a bamboo whisk or frother for matcha. On the herbal front, a kettle with temperature control and a fine mesh strainer prove valuable assets for achieving the right steep time.

10. Alternative Ways to Consume Green Tea Vs Herbal Tea

A person pouring milk into a glass cup with matcha to make a matcha latte

There are a couple of variations in terms of how green tea and herbal tea can be consumed, which may lead you to prefer one more often than the other. This isn't a hard and fast rule, but typically, green tea is usually consumed hot or cold, in the form of pure green tea or matcha.

A matcha latte, for example, will usually be taken with milk, which can customize the drink in different ways. These days, green tea is also consumed in everything from Green Tea KitKats to green tea ice cream. So, take your pick!

Herbal tea, however, can also be taken hot or cold/iced and with or without milk, but sometimes, drinkers may add honey or lemon, cinnamon or ginger—or an array of other ingredients—to enhance their experience and the benefits they're trying to get. If you have a cold, for example, you may add eucalyptus honey to your tea. Herbal tea cocktails are becoming more popular as well.

Green Tea Vs Herbal Tea: Which to Choose

An amber-colored table laden with herbal tea decoration

So, what would we choose—green tea or herbal tea? After all, that's a lot of information above to "digest"! We hope this will help you make your choice a little bit easier. (But, keep in mind that there are a lot of overlaps between what green tea and herbal tea offer, and everyone may have their own preferences):

Choose green tea for...

Weight management:

If you're looking to get help with weight management, choose green tean. Those antioxidants and compounds are associated with boosting metabolism and aiding in fat oxidation.

An alternative to coffee

:If you want a gentle caffeine boost in the morning, then green tea is a great option. The combination of moderate caffeine content and L-theanine in green tea promotes both alertness and relaxation, providing a well-rounded experience while supporting your weight goals. This means that green tea can even help you settle in and relax before bedtime, promoting a good night's sleep.

Focus and clarity

If you're striving to enhance your cognitive function and mental clarity - maybe you have a test coming up, or you need to focus on something important right now - green tea can help a lot. This is again due to the light caffeine and L-theanine, as well as the antioxidants green tea possess which are believed to play a role in brain health.

Skin care

Packed with antioxidants, green tea helps combat inflammation, fight signs of aging, and improve skin elasticity. It can even offer a certain level of UV protection and assist in reducing acne and skin sensitivity. So, whether you're sipping a cup or incorporating it into your skincare products, green tea is a natural way to nurture your skin's health and radiance.

Choose herbal tea for...

Stress relief

For those seeking a natural remedy to alleviate stress and promote relaxation, herbal tea is your go-to option. Opt for herbal infusions like chamomile or lavender. These botanical treasures are known for their calming properties, making them ideal companions for winding down after a long day. Their caffeine-free nature ensures that you can enjoy their benefits without any interference with your sleep patterns.

A digestive aid

For individuals seeking a caffeine-free alternative that aids digestion and alleviates stomach discomfort, look no further than herbal tea. Varieties like peppermint and ginger possess natural properties that soothe digestive woes, making them a comforting choice after a hearty meal. Their gentle yet effective approach to promoting digestion aligns well with the relaxation that herbal teas bring.

Keeping your immune system strong

Herbal tea blends like those featuring echinacea or elderberry. These teas are celebrated for their potential immune-boosting effects, offering a natural defense mechanism against common ailments. Their vibrant flavors and protective properties make them an enticing choice for enhancing your well-being.

Green Tea & Herbal Tea Blends

Green tea vs. herbal tea blend bag in a glass, see-through mug in front of a green background

Can't decide? Overwhelmed by all the health and wellness benefits green tea and herbal tea offer, and not sure what's best for you? Why not go for a green tea and herbal tea blend? You can usually find blends at tea shops or online, or try to make your own combination. We're eager to hear what you come up with!

Whether it's enhancing relaxation, boosting digestion, or diversifying antioxidant intake, these blends offer a tapestry of tastes and potential well-being advantages without the decision fatigue (because tea should be easy!):

Options and Benefits:

  1. Green Tea with mint: This combination retains the soothing aspects of green tea while adding a cooling twist that aids digestion and provides a refreshing boost.

  2. Jasmine green tea: Jasmine's calming properties complement green tea's L-theanine content, promoting relaxation and reducing stress.

  3. Chamomile green tea: This blend's potential relaxation benefits are twofold, making it a calming choice for winding down.

  4. Hibiscus green tea: Blending green tea with hibiscus lends a vibrant color and tangy flavor. Hibiscus brings its antioxidants to the mix, enhancing the potential health benefits of the blend.

Keep in mind that if you blend green tea with herbal tea, you will have some of that caffeine content in your cup.

How to Brew Herbal Tea Vs Green Tea

A glass tea kettle brewing herbal tea vs green tea in a glass

How to Brew Green Tea:

  • Step 1: Select quality leaves: Choose high-quality green tea leaves for the best flavor. Loose leaves are preferred over tea bags for better infusion.

  • Step 2: Heat water: Heat water to just below boiling point, around 160-180°F (71-82°C). This temperature range preserves the delicate flavors of green tea without causing bitterness.

  • Step 3: Preheat your teapot: Pour a little hot water into your teapot or tea infuser to preheat it. This step helps maintain the optimal brewing temperature.

  • Step 4: Measure and add tea leaves: For a standard cup of tea, use about 1 teaspoon of green tea leaves. Adjust the amount according to your taste preference.

  • Step 5: Steeping time selection: The steeping time depends on your desired strength. For a light taste, steep for 1-3 minutes. If you prefer a stronger brew, extend the steeping time to 4-5 minutes. Keep a close eye; you don't want to oversteep!

  • Step 6: Strain and enjoy: Once the desired steeping time is reached, strain the tea leaves and pour the infused tea into your cup.

Tea Para Tip: Feel free to experiment with different steeping times and leaf quantities to find the perfect balance that suits your palate


How to Brew Herbal Tea

  • Step 1: Choose your herbal tea: Select an herbal tea that suits your taste preferences and desired effects.

  • Step 2: Boil the water: Bring water to a full boil. Boiling water helps extract the essential oils and flavors from the herbal blend.

  • Step 3: Preheat your teapot: Similar to brewing green tea, preheat your teapot or tea infuser with a little hot water to maintain the ideal brewing temperature.

  • Step 4: Add herbal blend: Place 1-2 teaspoons of your chosen herbal blend into the teapot or infuser.

  • Step 5: Steeping time customization: Steeping time for herbal tea ranges from 5-10 minutes. Adjust the steeping time based on your desired strength. Longer steeping times result in a stronger flavor.

  • Step 6: Cover during steeping: Cover the teapot or infuser with a lid or plate while steeping. This helps trap the volatile oils and flavors, enhancing the overall taste of the herbal tea.

  • Step 7: Strain and enjoy: Same as above! After you steep the appropriate time, strain into your cup and drink up!

Brewing Tips and Final Thoughts:

  • The quality of water and tea leaves significantly affects the final taste of your tea, so use fresh, filtered water and high-quality tea for the best results.

  • Keep in mind that personal taste preferences vary, so don't hesitate to adjust steeping times and quantities to create your ideal cup of tea.

  • Remember that brewing tea is a journey of discovery. Don't be afraid to try new blends, techniques, and variations as you go

What's Our Favorite? Green Tea or Herbal Tea?

Cartoon green tea vs. herbal tea in small mugs on a wood table

It doesn't have to be a competition; green tea and herbal tea both have amazing qualities that sometimes lead us to choose one over the other. Green tea is our go-to for weekend mornings, where we can relax and ensure we don't have too much caffeine in case we go back to have a nap.

Herbal teas are usually reserved when one of us feeling sick, has a stomachache, or wants a mug of tea before bed, and green tea is usually not a contender in that despite its benefits, too.

At the end of the day (no pun intended!) the differences between green tea and herbal tea really comes down to personal preference, which can change depending on what you hope to get out of your tea drinking experience. We hope this information will serve as an easy reference whenever you need it! Enjoy!

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