HERBAL TEAs TISANEs
Tisane is a fancy word for 'herbal tea.' Actually, tisane is the better and more accurate term because most herbal 'teas' by definition contain no actual leaves from the tea bush (Camellia sinensis ). Typically, they are made by mixing any number of dried flowers, such as chamomile or jasmine blossoms, seeds, plant roots and spices, such as cinnamon — the combinations and possibilities are endless.
Since they do not contain any actual 'tea' leaves, tisanes do not have caffeine. Tisanes are generally made from fresh or desiccated plant components such as leaves, flowers, crushed seeds, roots, hips, fruit, or stems. The plants and herbs used in tisanes may be selected for either flavor or homeopathic properties, or a combination of both. Many culinary herbs such as rosemary, mint, sage, and thyme are frequent components of tisanes.
Tisanes are prepared in much the same way that tea is. Near-boiling water is poured over the plant material in a vessel such as a teapot or mug and left to steep until the desired concentration is achieved. Usually, this takes about five minutes. Permeable muslin or paper tea bags or metal tea balls or tea spoons can be used to contain the plant materials if desired. Otherwise, the tisane can be strained prior to serving. The tisane may be sweetened if preferred and can be served either hot or cold, over ice.
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, while others are typically consumed for simple enjoyment. 'Detox Teas' are a popular category of medicinal tisanes.
Most tisanes should be prepared as an infusionor a decoction.
Decoctions release more essential oils and flavor from plant matter and are often used for plant matter with tough surfaces or smaller surface areas. For this reason, leaf, flower and seed tisanes are generally steeped, whereas bark, root and berry tisanes are generally prepared as decoctions.
Brewing and proportions for tisanes vary widely. They may be as short as two minutes or as long as 15 minutes, and may require as little as a pinch of plant material per cup of water or as much as several tablespoons per cup. Luckily, most vendors will supply you with instructions for each type they offer.
If your tisane comes with brewing instructions, use them and then adjust the quantities/time to your tastes. If not, ask your supplier or search online for instructions for that particular tisane.
WARNING: Never use an aluminum pot to prepare a tisane. Aluminum is a reactive metal, so it can react with the herb and, depending on the plant type, it may produce a very toxic beverage.