Beverage and culture. "Zhourat", a multivariate analysis of the globalization of a herbal tea from the Middle East

Appetite. 2014 Aug:79:1-10. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2014.03.024. Epub 2014 Apr 1.


The "Zhourat" herbal tea consists of a blend of wild flowers, herbs, leaves and fruits and is a typical beverage of Lebanon and Syria. We aim to evaluate cultural significance of "Zhourat", to determine cultural standards for its formulation including key ingredients and to determine acceptable variability levels in terms of number of ingredients and their relative proportions, in summary what is "Zhourat" and what is not "Zhourat" from an ethnobotanical perspective. For this purpose we develop a novel methodology to describe and analyse patterns of variation of traditional multi-ingredient herbal formulations, beverages and teas and to identify key ingredients, which are characteristics of a particular culture and region and to interpret health claims for the mixture. Factor analysis and hierarchical clustering techniques were used to display similarities between samples whereas salience index was used to determine the main ingredients which could help to distinguish a standard traditional blend from a global market-addressed formulation. The study revealed 77 main ingredients belonging to 71 different species of vascular plants. In spite of the "Zhourat's" highly variable content, the salience analysis resulted in a determined set of key botanical components including Rosa x damascena Herrm., Althaea damascena Mouterde, Matricaria chamomilla L., Aloysia citrodora Palau, Zea mays L. and Elaeagnus angustifolia L. The major health claims for "Zhourat" as digestive, sedative and for respiratory problems are culturally coherent with the analysis of the traditional medicinal properties uses of its ingredients.

Keywords: Ethnobotany; Factor analysis; Functional foods; Health claims; Herbal teas; Hierarchical clustering.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Althaea
  • Beverages*
  • Culture*
  • Elaeagnaceae
  • Humans
  • Internationality*
  • Matricaria
  • Medicine, Traditional*
  • Middle East
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plant Preparations* / therapeutic use
  • Plants, Medicinal*
  • Rosa
  • Verbenaceae
  • Zea mays


  • Plant Preparations