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Preliminary exploration of herbal tea products based on traditional knowledge and hypotheses concerning herbal tea selection: a case study in Southwest Guizhou, China

Long, Xiaofeng, Ranjitkar, Sailesh, Waldstein, Anna, Wu, Huan, Li, Qingqing, Geng, Yanfei (2024) Preliminary exploration of herbal tea products based on traditional knowledge and hypotheses concerning herbal tea selection: a case study in Southwest Guizhou, China. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, 20 (1). Article Number 1. ISSN 1746-4269. (doi:10.1186/s13002-023-00645-w) (KAR id:104595)



Herbal tea usually refers to “beverage plants that do not belong to the genus Camellia”, and it holds a significant historical legacy as a traditional beverage among specific regions and ethnic groups. In light of this, our research aims to investigate and analyze the traditional knowledge pertaining to herbal tea plants used by local people in the Qianxinan Buyi and Miao Autonomous Prefecture, Guizhou Province. We also initiated preliminary efforts to create tea products from herbal tea leaves using various processing techniques. Additionally, we attempted to test hypotheses to elucidate how local people select herbal tea plants.


Data related to the use of herbal tea plants in this study were collected through semi-structured interviews and participatory observations in four villages in Qianxinan. Quantitative indicators, including the relative frequency of citation (RFC) and the relative importance (RI) value, were calculated, and the availability of plants was also evalu- ated. General linear model was performed to examine the relationship between the frequency of citation and resource availability, as well as the correlation between the relative frequency of citation and the relative impor- tance, to test both the resource availability hypothesis and the versatility hypothesis. Centella asiatica tea was pro- cessed using techniques from green tea, black tea and white tea, with a preliminary sensory evaluation conducted.


A total of 114 plant species were documented as being used for herbal teas by local residents, represent- ing 60 families and 104 genera. Of these, 61% of herbal tea plants were found growing in the wild, and 11 species were exotic plants. The family with the highest number of species was Asteraceae (20 species). The study identified 33 major medicinal functions of herbal tea, with clearing heat-toxin and diuresis being the most common func- tions. General linear model revealed a strong correlation (correlation coefficient of 0.72, p < 0.001) between the fre- quency of citation and plant availability, as well as a significant correlation (correlation coefficient of 0.63, p < 0.001) between RFC and RI. Under different processing conditions, the characteristics of Centella asiatica tea exhibited variations and were found to be suitable for consumption.


The consumption of herbal tea serves as a preventive measure against common ailments for local residents. The resource availability hypothesis, diversification hypothesis and the versatility hypothesis were shown to provide some insight into “how and why local communities select plants for use.” Exotic herbal tea plants in the study area also possess valuable therapeutic properties. The processing and production of Centella asiatica herbal tea products hold promising prospects.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1186/s13002-023-00645-w
Uncontrolled keywords: Qianxinan, Herbal tea, Resource availability hypothesis, Versatility hypothesis, Diversification hypothesis, Centella asiatica
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Funders: National Natural Science Foundation of China (
China Scholarship Council (
Depositing User: Anna Waldstein
Date Deposited: 12 Jan 2024 15:57 UTC
Last Modified: 17 Jan 2024 12:32 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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