Even if you’ve never heard of a tisane, chances are you may have drunk one before. Several different traditional beverages fall under this drink type. Similar to tea, tisane is a little different both in its ingredients and in its preparation.
A tisane is a mixture of leaves, roots, seeds, flowers, bark, or fruit steeped in boiling water or tea to create an aromatic liquid infusion for drinking. Tisanes are a popular alternative to traditional tea and contain many medicinal benefits that depend on the ingredients used in them.
Tisanes are a way to add a whole new variety of different flavors and health benefits to your typical tea routine. Keep reading to learn more about tisanes and how to make these botanical infusions for yourself.
What Is the Difference Between a Tea and a Tisane?
While mixtures of herbs packaged for steeping and drinking are often referred to as “herbal teas”, these mixtures technically aren’t tea at all in many cases. Tea is any beverage that contains the leaves of the tea plant steeped in hot water, while a tisane is a more general hot beverage that involves steeping all sorts of different plants in hot water.
Many tea mixtures incorporate the ingredients typically used in tisanes, such as flowers, dried fruits, bark, and other botanicals. These ingredients can influence the flavor, color, and medicinal properties of the tea.
However, traditional tisanes involve using no tea at all. Tisanes have been used for hundreds of years to administer herbal remedies such as yarrow, chamomile, and mint.
How Do You Make a Tisane?
Making tisane is slightly different from making tea. For most true teas, boiling water is poured into a cup or tea pot and tea bags or leaves are steeped in the hot water to release their flavor and coloring. In contrast, tisanes are created by placing botanicals in a pan or pot and covering them in boiling water.
Here are some tips for making authentic tisane at home:
- Make sure all botanicals are washed thoroughly before steeping. This step is especially important if you aren’t using plant material that has been grown through organic methods.
- Choose fresh herbal ingredients. Good tisane depends on the essential oils pulled out of the herbs from the boiling water the plant material is steeped in, so choose the freshest herbs available to get the most aromatic flavor from your infusion.
- Grow or forage for your own tisane ingredients. One of the best ways to ensure high-quality tisane ingredients is to source them from your backyard. Many of the botanicals used in tisanes, such as chamomile and mint, are easy to grow in your own herbal tea garden where you can go and collect herbs as you need them. Pine needle tea is a delicious medicinal that you can brew from pine needles if you have access to eastern white or Manchurian red pine trees.
As long as you have a source of heat, a pot of water, and a handful of herbs, you can create a tisane no matter where you are. This versatility makes it a nice alternative to coffee when you’re roughing it on a camping trip.
Popular Types of Tisanes
Tea mixtures are primarily created from tea leaves, but tisanes can be created from all different kinds of botanicals. These are the categories of tisanes that can be created:
Leaf tisanes: Leaf tisanes are created from plant leaves, sometimes steeped fresh and sometimes dried and cured before use. Popular leaf tisanes include raspberry leaf tea and peppermint tea.
Flower tisanes: Flower tisanes are prized for their strong aromatics. These tisanes are as highly regarded for their appearance as they are for their smell and flavor. Popular flower tisanes include chamomile and jasmine.
Bark tisanes: Bark tisanes are created by grinding up the bark of certain medicinal or aromatic trees. Popular bark tisanes include willow, cherry, and cinnamon.
Seed tisanes: Seed tisanes include tisanes that are made from spices such as cardamom and fennel. Seed tisanes are often drunk for their medicinal qualities. Buckwheat tea is made from grain-like seeds and has numerous health benefits.
Fruit and berry tisanes: Many different fruits, berries, and vegetables are used in infusions. Popular choices for fruit tisanes include cucumber, strawberry, and lemon.
Many of the ingredients used in tisanes are also commonly found as additives in traditional tea mixtures. Whereas in tea mixes these ingredients are secondary, in tisanes they take the center stage where their flavor can truly shine.
Why Do People Drink Tisanes?
Along with their delicious flavor and beautiful appearance, there are many other advantages tisanes have to offer drinkers. Here are a few reasons why you might want to try tisanes over traditional teas:
- Non-caffeinated: For people trying to give up caffeine or can’t ingest it, most tisanes don’t contain caffeine like tea does. Since caffeine disrupts your sleep, this makes tisanes preferable to caffeinated tea for evening drinks.
- Variety: Unlike teas, tisanes have a much wider range of different colors, flavors, and fragrances to choose from. If you like switching things up in your morning beverage routine, tisanes are a good option for you.
- Homegrown: Tea is impossible for most tea enthusiasts to grow, but the ingredients for tisanes can be grown in your own yard in many cases.
These advantages aren’t the only things that recommend tisanes as a beverage for any time of day. Many tisanes are also associated with improved health.
Health Benefits of Tisanes
The health benefits of tisanes depend entirely on which ingredients are used in the infusion. For example, a peppermint leaf tisane is often drunk to help calm digestive issues, while willow bark tisanes are drunk to alleviate pain.
Here are some of the other health benefits associated with popular tisanes:
- Detoxification: Ginger, turmeric, chili powder, and lemon are all popular tisane ingredients in cleanses to help detoxify and purify the body.
- Stress relief: Valerian, chamomile, passionflower, and lavender are used in tisanes to help promote a sense of well-being and tranquility. These botanicals are associated with lowered blood pressure and reduced anxiety.
- Anti-inflammatory properties: Chronic inflammation is associated with many lingering illnesses, including arthritis and cardiovascular disease. Tisanes made of ingredients such as holy basil, ginger, and rose hips can help reduce this inflammation and relieve the pain associated with it.
These are just a few of the health benefits that tisanes can offer. Be sure to look into each specific herbal ingredient you want to use in a tisane to see what health benefits it offers.
Try Tisanes for a Tasty Tea Alternative
If tea isn’t your thing, but you still want something nice and hot to drink in the mornings, tisanes are a healthy option. These herbal infusions are full of fragrance and flavor to suit just about any palate.