Herbal, Tisane, or Tea?
Have you ever overheard, or maybe been part of a conversation that went something like this,
“I’m drinking chamomile. That’s a tea right? Or wait, is it decaf? No…I’m pretty sure Earl Grey is decaf, right? Or is that green tea? But peppermint, that for sure is tea. And that’s decaf. Yeah. …Right?”
In the end, everyone is more confused than when they started and would really just like a nice cup of tea that won’t keep them awake until midnight.
Last week started our latest series, “Unraveling the Mystery of Tea” (check it out here if you missed it!). Hopefully that helped you develop a better understanding of the difference between the types of tea that comes from the tea plant, Camellia Sinensis. This week, we thought we’d highlight what exactly causes a hot drink, steeped like a tea, to be classified as “herbal”.
A tisane or herbal “tea” is, simply put, anything steeped in the same manner as tea that does not contain actual tea leaves. The French word Tisane simply means “herbal infusion”. Dried fruit, Rooibos, Yerba Maté, blends of spices such as ginger, cardamon, or cinnamon are considered tisanes. Herbs like chamomile, lemon grass, or spearmint are also some of the most classic herbal infusions, or tisanes.
Herbal infusions have hundreds of possibilities. In recent years, it’s become not just a drink for the sick or those seeking a good night’s sleep, but a fantastic way to enjoy a new set of flavors. Often, herbal infusions are naturally sweet, making them good options for children, for cutting back on sweeteners, or just for enjoying something a little different than normal.
A dear friend of mine makes a sparkling drink for entertaining with a berry tisane concentrate and club soda over ice. It’s beautiful – deep purple – and the flavor is fantastic. I know of many people who sweeten an herbal infusion with honey and then use it to replace sodas or sugary drinks in the summer or make popsicles with it. (Check out this great post over at Mountain Rose Blog for an awesome set of recipes!)
Herbal infusions are one of the most misclassified and misunderstood categories of tea on the American market. But really, they shouldn’t be. It is quite simple, as you’ve seen. So, new time you overhear a conversation like the one we started with, be a kind soul and help clear up the confusion!