Today we are going to talk about an alternative way to drink and enjoy tea.
If you’re not a fan of the usual suspects or milk tea – lo and behold, a world of fruits and flowers are here to satiate all your steeping needs. We’re talking about Tisanes. Lets jump right into it!
What are tisanes?
Also known as herbal teas, tisanes (pronounced ti-zahn) are not actually teas at all (i.e., they do not come from the Camelia Sinensis plant). Instead they are infusions made from leaves, bark, roots, berries, seeds, and spices. The most common tisanes include mint, chamomile, verbena, and rooibos.
Tea vs. Tisane: Caffeine
Another big difference between tea and tisane is caffeine. All teas have caffeine. The amount varies from a low of 35 milligrams per eight-ounce cup for green tea to a high of 90 milligrams for black. Herbal infusions, on the other hand, are caffeine-free, making them ideal for post-supper sipping.
Tisanes also offer variety to the casual tea drinker. Herbal tisane flavors can range from light and bitter to deep and earthy, and even medicinal herbs can be consumed casually in weaker brews. Fruit tisanes are very common, and they are frequently made with blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and apples, all of which provide the characteristic flavor of the fruit. Flower tisanes are slightly less common, except for the ever-popular chamomile, and usually impart a light, delicate flavor. Tisanes of all varieties are also frequently mixed with true tea to create different flavor profiles. Chai tea, for example, is black tea mixed with a tisane made from spices.
Types of Tisanes
Tisanes are usually categorized by what part of the plant they come from. Here are some examples of each of the major categories of tisanes:
- Leaf tisanes: rosemary, rooibos, lemongrass and peppermint
- Flower tisanes: marigold, rose, chamomile, hibiscus, lavender and rhododendron
- Bark tisanes: cinnamon, slippery elm, and black cherry bark
- Root tisanes: ginger, echinacea, and chicory
- Fruit/berry tisane: raspberry, blueberry, peach, and apple
- Seed/spice tisanes: cardamom, caraway, and fennel
Sometimes, tisanes are made from a blend of plant types or from multiple parts of the same plant. Occasionally, tisanes are made from moss, stems or other plant matter. Kombucha is often classified as a tisane, but it is technically a symbiotic colony of yeast and bacteria (or “SCOBY”).
Tisanes may also be classified as medicinal or not. While many tisanes are high in antioxidants and nutrients, some have long histories of medicinal use; others are typically consumed for simple enjoyment. “Detox teas” are a popular category of medicinal tisanes.
Brewing the Perfect Cup
Most tisanes should be prepared as an infusion or a decoction.
Various tea types come with their own requirements for steeping. White and green teas are best with cooler water and shorter steeping times. If you don’t like green tea, you may be burning or over-steeping the delicate leaves. It should taste sweet and vegetal — not bitter. Black tea, on the other hand, can handle a hotter temperature and slightly longer steeping time.
Still, the average brewing time for tea is relatively short, but that’s not the case with tisanes. While the perfect cup of tea might take two or three minutes to steep, an herbal infusion or tisane will take anywhere from four to 15 minutes, as it takes time for the flavors to develop.
Another secret to a perfect tisane is using boiling water — and keeping your cup or teapot covered while it’s steeping. This will both preserve the heat and prevent those wonderful aromas from escaping.
Some tisanes are imbibed for a specific purpose. Dandelion tea is an effective diuretic, and kava tea is used to help relieve stress. Many tea companies develop formulations that combine herbs to promote bowel movements, relieve PMS symptoms, reduce or prevent digestive discomfort, reduce fevers, and stop vomiting. Some tisanes can also be cooled and used topically as astringents and disinfectants. See an experienced herbalist or sommelier at our Karma Kettle store to determine which tisane is right for your condition.
SO! Tea or tisane? Which do you prefer? If you’re looking for a vast selection of herbal teas, we’ve hand-picked only the very best for all your steeping needs on our online store! Do visit us for a cuppa or order to your hearts content.
Yours, one cup at at time,
The Karma Kettle Team.