It’s nearly summertime, and soon everything will be in bloom. Many healthy herbs, fruits, and other foliage are picked and used for cooking — but what about using these organic materials for making beverages? Keep reading to learn more about popular botanical beverages and if they offer significant nutritional benefits.
A botanical beverage is any drink that is made with with all-natural ingredients such as herbs, spices, flowers, and plants.
Popular botanical beverages include tea, kombucha, non-alcoholic alternatives, and botanical sodas.
Most of these products have less sugar than other beverages and have trace amounts of vitamins. They can be a healthier option, but their overall health impact is minimal to none.
Botanical beverage is an umbrella term for all drinks that are flavored with natural ingredients such as spices, herbs, plants, and flowers. Many of these ingredients have health benefits, and drinking them may also be beneficial, although more research is required to support health claims associated with these products.
Reasons to choose a botanical beverage
There are a few reasons why someone would opt for a botanical beverage over another option.
A botanical beverage may appeal to people who want to stay hydrated but don’t enjoy drinking plain water. These options are flavored with natural ingredients and may be lower in refined sugar compared to sodas and bottled juices, which would make them a healthier alternative.
Reduce intake of sugary beverages
Finding ways to decrease your intake of sugar-sweetened beverages is important for your long-term health. One research has shown that people who regularly drink soda are more likely to consume excess calories, resulting in unwanted weight gain, and an increased risk of developing diabetes.
Save a few dollars
You can buy premade botanical beverages or easily make your own at home by steeping herbs, spices, and other organic materials. This is an inexpensive way to create a delicious drink that fully satisfies your taste preferences. In the winter months, you can drink these beverages hot, or in the summer, you can add ice for a chilled version.
Popular botanical beverages
You have probably already encountered most of these botanical beverages at your local grocery store. If these products sound new to you, try to find them the next time you go to the store. New flavors are regularly being released and can be a great way to quench your thirst during the upcoming summer months.
Tea is one of the most popular botanical beverages consumed around the world. There are thousands of different flavors and varieties served around the world. Common tea types include black, green, and white teas.
To make this botanical beverage, you should steep the dried leaves and flowers in boiling hot water. Follow the directions and steep for the right amount of time. Sample your tea before adding any milk or sweetening agents — try to pick out the different flavors from the botanical elements.
Most teas contain varying levels of polyphenols, which are known antioxidants. These health-promoting compounds can reduce the chance of chronic disease and different types of cancers.
Kombucha is a fermented tea beverage that has been consumed for thousands of years. A byproduct of fermentation is the development of bacteria colonies called probiotics. These microorganisms help to nourish your gut and keep your digestive system healthy. Kombucha beverages offer small amounts of bacteria, and for best gut health results, you should also follow a balanced diet rich in fiber and whole foods.
Many kombucha products are flavored with natural botanical ingredients, such as rose, orange, mango, chlorophyll, and mint. Some of these ingredients may add trace amounts of antioxidants to the beverage, such as vitamin C, but the overall health impact of kombucha is not significant.
Non-alcoholic botanical substitutions
Many types of alcohol are distilled from plant-based products. For example, juniper berries are used to make gin, and different flowers, such as hibiscus, can be used to infuse flavor into vodka.
Although alcohol is a staple around the world, excessive drinking is not recommended for your health. It is a known carcinogen and can severely damage your liver. Non-alcoholic botanical substitutions are a great alternative to boozy beverages. They pack intense flavors without carrying any alcohol.
You can create a botanical mocktail (an alcohol-free cocktail) at home. Create a citrusy infusion by mixing lemon zest, lemon juice, grapefruit zest, grapefruit juice, dried juniper berries, and a cut stalk of lemongrass in a sealed container overnight. The next day strain your infusion and serve in a chilled cocktail glass; pour sparkling water on top and enjoy. This option is very high in vitamin C and low in sugar, which are both liver-friendly choices.
Sparkling flavor-forward botanical sodas contain significantly less added sugar than their regular counterparts. Popular flavors include elderflower and vanilla, strawberry and chamomile, and cucumber rosemary.
There is very little nutritional value to these products. They are a healthier alternative to regular sodas, but they won’t deliver a significant health impact.
Are botanical beverages healthy?
There are some healthy qualities associated with most botanical beverages. They tend to be lower in sugar than sodas and juices and carry trace amounts of probiotic bacteria and vitamins. Tea is the most popularly researched botanical beverage, and good evidence shows it can support health and longevity. However, more research is needed to determine the health impact of the other botanical beverages mentioned in this article.
For most people, these products are safe to consume and fun to try. A high-quality diet emphasizes nutrition and enjoyment in your eating. Adding botanical beverages to your menu is a great way to increase the variety and ensure you stay hydrated. Challenge yourself this summer to try as many new flavor combinations as possible and enjoy mother nature's bounty.
- CDC. Alcohol Use and Your Health.
- Current Pharmaceutical Design. Tea and Health: Studies in Humans.
- Annals of Epidemiology. Kombucha: A systematic review the empirical evidence of human health benefits.