Understanding Delivery Systems: Tea and Teapills vs. Other Delivery Formats

Within your practice, you’re faced with the responsibility of choosing the most effective botanical delivery options for your patients. Tinctures, tablets, capsules, gummies, powders, and extracts - there are many ways your patients can ingest the supplements you recommend. And when you work with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), your delivery systems options expand even more. 

Finding the best method can take time and effort. Do you want to recommend teas or teapills, tablets or powders?

As a practitioner, your patients’ lifestyles and habits give strong clues as to which method is best for them, along with their unique condition and constitution. In this post, we’ll review the pros and cons of the most common delivery systems you can consider for your patients, including tea, teapills, tinctures, and more. 


Tea Has Been Used For Ritual, Routine, and Health for Generations 

Tea may be the most well-known historical delivery system in TCM. Practitioners appreciate tea blends because they’re relatively easy to formulate and can support various conditions and constitutions. Patients have also historically enjoyed tea because it’s simple to brew, and the tea-making process can feel both therapeutic and ceremonial. 

However, due to the nature of fast-paced modern lifestyles, tea is not always the best delivery method for every patient, especially patients who travel often or don’t have the time or patience to steep their tea. In these cases, teapills may be a more accessible, effective, and supportive option.


Teapills Evolved from the Use of Tea in TCM

Teapills are exactly what they sound like - pills made from tea. Teapills are created by simmering down a botanical infusion until it forms a concentrate. The concentrated tea is rolled into small pills and coated to create a gummy-like consistency that makes them easier to swallow. Teapills are a convenient method for sharing tea's concentrated, supportive properties with greater efficacy and longer-lasting results.  


Properties of Tea and Teapills     

Choosing tea (Cha ji, 茶剂) or teapills (Wan ji, 丸剂) as a therapeutic method has many strengths. Below are some pros and cons to consider when comparing these two methods.

*Practitioner’s Note: When we refer to tea, we’re referring to an infusion or decoction made from a wide range of botanicals. It often does not include the classic tea plant (Camellia sinensis) used in green and black tea. 

Teapill Pros 

  • Easy to swallow 
  • Convenient for travel or busy lifestyles
  • Therapeutically effective due to higher tea dosage 
  • Minimal flavor compared to other delivery systems, like tinctures, powders, and tea
  • Longer-lasting effects compared to tea
  • Can be used for extended periods
  • Long shelf life, convenient to store 

Teapill Cons

  • Slower onset compared to tablets and powders 
  • Teapills need to be swallowed, so they’re not a good fit for anyone unable to take pills 

Tea Pros

  • Offers creative freedom and is easily customizable 
  • Can be used topically or orally as an herbal wash or soak and mouth gargle 
  • May have a favorable flavor 
  • Can be seen as a calming ritual  

Tea Cons

  • Takes time to brew
  • Straining herbs may make a small mess
  • Not very travel friendly
  • Not as concentrated as other delivery methods, including teapills and tinctures
  • Short shelf life (when prepared)

Properties of Other Delivery Systems

Other delivery systems in TCM include tinctures, powders, and tablets. Each therapeutic method contains strengths for certain conditions and situations.

Tinctures (Jiu ji, 酒剂) are created by infusing botanical material in high-proof alcohol to extract the plant’s therapeutic phytochemicals. 

Tincture Pros 

  • Highly concentrated
  • Low dosage needed
  • Convenient to store and pack
  • Long shelf life
  • Does not require any hands-on preparation
  • Quickly metabolized by the body

Tincture Cons 

  • Flavor can be intense, which may turn away some consumers
  • Not for everyone, given the alcohol content 
  • Aren’t  recommended for those with yin-deficient fire or damp accumulation 

Powders (San ji, 散剂) are usually dissolved in hot water or combined with a binding agent - like honey or syrup - to create lozenges. 

Powder Pros

  • Faster preparation process than tea (when dissolved in water)
  • No straining necessary
  • Fast onset of action 
  • Can be applied externally or internally 

Powder Cons

  • Flavor can be an issue for some 
  • Requires some hands-on preparation
  • Creating lozenges can be messy  

Tablets (Pian ji, 片剂) are created by compressing powders into consumable sizes. 

Tablet Pros 

  • Easy to take 
  • Are often met with greater compliance by consumers than methods that require hands-on preparation
  • Contain precise dosages 
  • Minimal flavor 
  • Long shelf life

Tablet Cons

  • Can be dry and difficult to swallow 
  • May need to be broken down due to larger size  


Choosing the Best Option for Patients 

As a practitioner, you and your patients have choices. One patient may love the flavor and ritual of tea but they can’t stand the taste of tinctures. Another patient may feel overwhelmed by making tea but appreciates the convenient, fast-acting nature of teapills and tinctures.

You may need to test different options with each patient to find the best delivery system. Don’t be afraid to experiment! Once you find the best fit, your patient can better follow your protocol and integrate your customized recommendations into their busy lives. 

The more likely your patient is to take your formulas, the more likely they are to experience positive results. And when it comes to the patient’s compliance, how they take your formulas may be just as important as what the formula contains.

Sourcing from Nuherbs

As you experiment with different herbal delivery methods for your patients, you can rest assured that all of our botanicals and formulas at Nuherbs undergo a rigorous process to ensure they maintain the highest quality throughout production. Every product is crafted with the sustainability of the plant, the safety of consumers, and the purity of the preparation in mind. 

If you want to learn more about TCM delivery systems or have any questions, please contact us at questions@nuherbs.com. All inquiries are welcome!  

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Our product and website content are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.