A tisane (pronounced "tea-zahn") is a tea-like drink that is often referred to as herb tea or herbal tea, although strictly speaking a tisane is not a tea at all. Tea, in the true sense of the term, is an infusion of the leaves of the tea plant - black, green or oolong. Tisanes, on the other hand, are infusions of herbs, spices, flowers, leaves, and/or pieces of (usually dried) fruit, without the addition of tea leaves. Tisanes are probably ancient drinks which have long been brewed for their mild medicinal properties. People today often drink tisanes for their curative properties - peppermint or ginger tea aid digestion; chamomile relaxes and soothes; lovage is a diuretic; rose hip is high in vitamin C. But people also drink tisanes because they provide the soothing warmth of a hot tea, or the cooling refeshment of an iced tea, without the caffeine of a true tea.

Brew a tisane much as you would regular tea, but note that most require a longer steeping time to allow their flavours to fully develop. Pour boiling water over the tisane and allow it to sit for at least five minutes to appreciate the full aroma and taste of the ingredients.

Tisane is originally a French word, which is used for any warm herbal drink. (Although today, they may also come in an iced form). In English, it carries much the same meaning, of "herbal teas." Many of these can be grown at home then dried and consumed, including chamomile, lemon balm and citrus bergamot (which has an Earl Grey flavor). One advantage, or disadvantage, of tisanes over normal tea is that they are caffeine-free, making a perfect night cap before bed. In the late 1990's and early 21st century, many of these "teas" were sold for minor mood altering characteristics, some with basis, some without. Regardless, most have been used for centuries as a sort of folk medicine. Tisanes may be a good choice for the politically active, especially in communities where fair trade tea and coffee are not widely available.

Ti*sane" (?), n. [F.] Med.

See Ptisan.

 

© Webster 1913.

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