Boiling water a must for herbal teas

Hot beverages like teas and infusions with herbs and fruit are very popular during the cold season. According to the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) some rules should be followed when preparing them: Herbal teas should always be made with water at a rolling boil. Furthermore, they should be allowed to infuse for at least five minutes. Only when the temperature is hot enough and water is boiled for long enough, is there any guarantee that germs present in rare cases in the herbal mixtures will definitely be killed.

In order to obtain specific ingredients and aromas, teas are infused with water at different temperatures. Herbal and fruit infusions, which strictly speaking must be considered as tea-like beverages, should always be prepared with boiling water on hygienic grounds. Furthermore, they should always be left to infuse for five minutes. Recommendations along these lines from the manufacturers are normally to be found on the packaging - and these instructions should always be followed.

Why: in some cases germs like bacteria, yeast or mould may be present in the products of plant origin. In isolated cases they may be pathogenic bacteria like salmonella. Only adequate heating can kill germs of this kind with any degree of certainty. Consumers should, therefore, never prepare their tea with warm water. In particularly unfortunate situations incorrectly prepared, germ-infected herbal teas can become a major health risk for small children and sick individuals. In principle, these recommendations apply to both tea leaves and tea bags.

Infused tea should not be allowed to stand for several hours. Boiling water does effectively kill germs but spores can, however, withstand this process. These more resistant forms of germ can germinate in hot water.

BfR is of the opinion that water from hot water dispensers is not suitable for the preparation of herbal or fruit teas. Generally speaking, this water only has a temperature of between 80° and 85°C. This is not enough in order to reliably kill any germs present. Further information on this subject can be accessed in german language on the homepage under Lebensmittel/Lebensmittelsicherheit.

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