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I know that I have mentioned this before in previous post, but in order to be considered and classified a “true tea” it needs to come from a plant called the Camellia Sinensis. This plant produces Black teas, Oolong teas, Green Teas and white teas. If it doesn’t come from the Camellia Sinensis plant it is really not a tea but rather a tisane or an herbal tea. Tisane is a French word that means “an infusion of dried or fresh leaves or flowers and herbs and is consumed like tea.”
"What is a Tisane?"
Some of the more popular tisanes that can create a delicious brew include green and red rooibos from South Africa. There is also lemon grass, chamomile, peppermint, hibiscus, mallow flowers, nettle leaves, basil, lavender, spearmint, ginger, raspberry leaf, licorice root and so much more. Next time you visit your local health food store, look around at the variety of herbs, flowers, fruits and spices and just try and imagine what it would taste like if you incorporated it into a “blend”. Just about any flower, fruit, or herb can be steeped in water and ingested and become a tisane. Remember, not all herbs are safe to consume. Philosophers will remind us that our father of modern thought, Socrates was sentenced to death by drinking a brew known as Hemlock. Fortunately, hemlock is not easy to get your hands on nowadays due to its unfortunate and fateful side effects.
Tisanes are mostly caffeine-free, unlike the teas made from the camellia sinensis. The blends that are created from mixing some of these herbs and spices that I mentioned are growing in popularity. The huge diversity of tisanes that are available makes the combination possibilities virtually unlimited.
Tisanes can be enjoyed both hot and iced. We have an Autumn Rain Fruit and Herbal tea that I love to drink hot when I am starting to catch a cold. The tartness of the fruit feels so good going down my throat. However; Autumn Rain is probably the most requested iced tea people ask me to make for all sorts of events such as weddings, showers, birthday and anniversary parties and just little get-togethers. I add frozen fruits to it and some mint and people are always so impressed.
So, how do you make a tisane? Every type of tea has its own steeping time and temperature. Most companies, (Cuppa Tea With Me included) have it somewhere on the packaging. Most tisanes are best when the water is near boiling with a steep time of at least 5-6 minutes. If you would like to make your tisanes even stronger, go ahead and let it steep a bit longer. You cannot do this with “true tea” because a longer steeping time will make your tea turn bitter. Rule of thumb for tea that comes from the camellia sinensis plant is, if you want stronger tea, add more tea. Do not over steep.
GTK: If you were in Europe, the word “tea” is legally regulated to only apply to Camellia sinensis. Obviously, we do not follow the same guidelines here in the United States.