What is Liquorice Tea?

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Traditional tea results when the naturally caffeinated leaves from the Camellia sinensis plant are steeped in hot water. Similarly, herbal tea is created when various edible plant parts are steeped in hot water. Some of the plant parts used when making herbal teas (or tisanes) include herbs, spices, fresh or dried flowers, seeds, stems, fruit, bark, and roots. 

Liquorice tea is a popular herbal tea. Often relied upon by herbalists for home remedies, it is a unique, rich, and sweet-flavored brew. For this reason, it is sometimes referred to as ‘sweet root tea.’ On top of being used for making herbal tea, liquorice has also been utilized as a flavoring for candy, sweets, and tobacco. 

Plant Basics

Glycyrrhiza glabra, or liquorice, translates to “sweet root.” The plant can grow to be 40 inches tall and its leaves can be anywhere from three to six inches long. The blossoms this plant produces range from purple to pale blue and the roots run horizontally in the ground. While the roots grow down in the ground roughly three feet down, they can stretch and grow over 20 feet in length.

Liquorice is a perennial that flourishes in places with full sun and well-drained soil. Today, it can be found growing in many countries including India, Iran, Italy, Afghanistan, China, Pakistan, Iraq, and Turkey.

The History of Liquorice Root

Aside from flavoring various candies and tobacco products today, the liquorice plant was used in both traditional Chinese and Indian medical practices. There is also evidence that the root of this plant was utilized in ancient Assyrian and Egyptian cultures to treat numerous illnesses including lung, liver, and kidney diseases.

Liquorice Tea Characteristics

Liquorice tea is made from the roots of the Glycyrrhiza glabra, a flowering plant that is native to parts of Asia, Africa, and Europe. When brewed properly, this tisane should be a light amber color. Emitting an aroma similar to that of anise and fennel, liquorice tea is bursting with a deep flavor experience.

Liquorice tea has been described as rich, offering drinkers a complex yet subtle mix of sweet, salty, bitter, and sour flavors. It is said to also give flavorful notes of anise and peppermint. Others have described it as tasting similar to black licorice candy.

Brewing Instructions

This herbal tea is simple to brew and only takes a few steps and a couple of items to get the job done. When brewing a fresh cup of liquorice tea, you will need is a pot or kettle to boil the water, a cup to enjoy the tea out of, and a strainer to catch the steeped roots. For this recipe, it is suggested to use 1 tablespoon of loose tea for every 8 to 10 oz of water.

  1. Bring some water to a rolling boil. For the best tasting results, it is suggested that spring water be used.
  2. When the water is boiling, remove it from the heat and place the measured amount of tea into the water. Allow the tea to steep for 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. When the time is up, strain out the tea leaves and pour the tea into cups to be enjoyed.

At this time, if desired, sweeteners can be added to the tea. Some popular and more natural choices include honey, maple syrup, molasses, and agave. Two popular artificial sweeteners that can be used to enhance your herbal tea experience are stevia and aspartame.

Caffeine & Nutritional Values

Liquorice tea is caffeine-free, making it a great alternative for those with sensitivities or those looking for alternative drinks that can be consumed in the evening hours. One serving of this tisane, which is 100 ml, contains less than 5 calories. Considered low in nutritional value, one serving also contains zero carbs, proteins, and fats.

Potential Benefits

Although the potential benefits of liquorice tea have not been studied, it is often relied upon by herbalists who take a more natural approach to healing. Some of the potential benefits that liquorice tea is thought to have include maintaining digestive health, reducing inflammation, healing from common cold symptoms, relieving nausea, and supporting oral hygiene.

Potential Concerns

There are potential side effects that one should be aware of before consuming massive amounts of liquorice root. Some of these possible concerns include increased blood pressure and decreased potassium levels. Related to these potential side effects, it is also suggested that anyone who is pregnant should discuss this herbal tea with their doctor.

Herbal Varieties

Liquorice root can be brewed on its own as a tisane or it can be enjoyed mixed together with other types of herbs to create an even more flavorful infusion. Some popular herbal tea choices that incorporate liquorice root include:

  • Licorice Blend- a mixture of liquorice root, cinnamon, vanilla, ginger, and cardamom
  • Turmeric Herbal Tea- blends turmeric, ginger, and liquorice root
  • Ayurvedic Blend- a mixture of thyme and liquorice
  • Licorice Spice- a blend of liquorice root, anise, orange peel, and sarsaparilla

Recap

This herbal tea is made by steeping the roots from the Glycyrrhiza glabra plant in hot water. The roots of this plant, unlike others, grow to great lengths. Sometimes, they can spread out horizontally covering a 20-foot span. 

This herbal tea, or tisane, is highly aromatic and extremely flavorful. It is often described as being rich and having a complex flavor full of sweet, salty, bitter, and sour notes. It has even been described by many as tasting similar to black licorice candy. The amber-colored infusion is said to smell like a mixture of anise and peppermint. 

Although it is unknown when exactly liquorice tea was first brewed, what is known is how long this plant has been utilized for medicinal and personal enjoyment. Dating back to ancient Assyrians, one of the oldest civilizations, liquorice root is still popular today among both herbalists and herbal tea enthusiasts. 

Whether you are looking to try an herbal tea with liquorice root as the only ingredient or in a blend with other ingredients, there are many options available. If you love herbal tea with a strong flavor, this is the tisane for you.