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Consumed for their therapeutic properties, as well as their relaxing and rejuvenating aromas, tisanes are infusions of aromatic herbs and plants. Served either hot or cold, they are a delicious alternative to caffeinated beverages.
Most of the infusions that are known as "herbal teas" are not teas at all. Only those that come from the Camellia sinensis plant can be classified as "tea". Instead, tisanes use all parts of various other plants - bark, stems, roots, flowers, seeds, fruit, and leaves - to make an infusion. Except for yerba mate, tisanes do not contain caffeine.
For centuries, healing tisanes have been used in traditional Chinese medicine and Indian Ayurvedic medicine to treat symptoms of various health-related issues. Tisanes have seen a surge in popularity in the West as well with "wellness" blends and mixtures that help to detox, calm and relax, induce sleep, or treat cold and flu symptoms are now widely available in tea stores and supermarkets. There seems to be a blend or infusion available for almost every kind of ailment. Users must be aware though. Plants and herbs have complicated chemistry and may not sit well with everybody and may interfere with conventional medicines or may aggravate allergies or even induce conditions. Many of the alleged benefits of herbal medicines tend to be based purely on anecdotal and cultural evidence rather than being proved by rigorous scientific methods. Always check with a healthcare professional before deciding to include tisanes as part of your healing plan.
Roots draw nutrients from the soil and carry them to the leaves and flowers. Thick and fibrous in nature, they contain potent organic compounds that make them an excellent ingredient for herbal tisanes. Roots have their own microculture of organisms and nutrients, which give them health-giving properties. Pre Dried roots are widely available to buy in various stores. Some popular root ingredients for tisanes are licorice, which is used as a mood-enhancing tonic and detoxifier; Chicory, which is used to treat arthritis and for its anti-inflammatory properties and as a sedative; and ginger, which is used to stimulate blood circulation and cleanse the lymphatic system.
Like the roots, bark carries nourishing properties to the plant. Although bark is not the most commonly used part of a shrub or tree, it is becoming a popular tisane ingredient, with each type of bark imparting unique flavors and health benefits to the infusion. Cinnamon is the most well-known bark used in tisanes and is often used to treat cold and flu symptoms, as well as for aiding digestion by reducing gas and stimulating appetite. Cinnamon comes in two varieties, Cassia and Ceylon, with the Ceylon variety being the superior type.
Fresh or dried flowers and petals are often used in tisanes because they add color and flavor to the mix. Many also have anti-inflammatory and detoxifying properties, so contribute much more than just visual appeal to the drink. Popular infusions using flowers are Chamomile, for treating insomnia and anxiety; Lavender, for insomnia, anxiety, cold and digestive problems.
Herbal leaves contain a potent combination of sugars, proteins, and enzymes, all of which are beneficial to health. They also release flavors and aromas that range from calming to invigorating. This may explain the variety of leaves used in herbal tisanes. Yerba Mate is probably the most well known of leaf-based tisanes, being the national drink of Argentina. The drink has faint hints of tobacco and green tea and is known to improve mental energy and uplift one's mood. Other popular leaf infusions are Mint, to alleviate headaches and aid digestion; Rooibos, which is high in antioxidants and often used as a substitute for black tea and helps with insomnia, digestion, and blood circulation.
Full of vitamins and minerals with potent health-boosting properties, fruits, and seeds not only enhance the healing effect of a tisane but also improve the taste. Rose Hips, for their high concentration of vitamin C, are commonly used to treat cold symptoms as well as headaches and indigestion. Cardamom is a popular addition as well for aiding digestion and is used as a natural diuretic and for its anti inflammatory properties. Fennel, with its licorice flavor, primarily is used to aid digestion as an after-dinner tisane.
Part of the appeal of a tisane lies in its preparation. making your own tisanes at home can be a rewarding experience, especially as you become familiar with the various ingredients, and how to store them.
Many items such as ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and cardamom are everyday pantry items. While you can grow your own rosemary, mint, sage, and other such herbs, you are also able to find all the herbs, spices, or fruits that you would like to use in your tisanes in your local herb stores or online stores like us.
Of course, prepared tisanes are widely available too, and we carry a wide variety of them. Prepared tisanes will also come with proper infusion and steeping times prescribed.
To prepare your tisane from your own ingredients, break up the dried herbs, and measure about 1 teaspoon of herbs (or herbs mixture). Tisanes should be prepared with freshly boiled water and steeped for approximately 5 minutes. Unlike teas, tisanes are more forgiving when it comes to steeping times. Since most herbs are not oxidized or processed in any way apart from drying, they don't generally require the delicate treatment that teas do.
Unlike, leaves and flowers, roots and stems need to be boiled in water to release their flavors and nutrients (aka "decoction"). Boil them in water for 5-10 minutes then strain and cool the mixture before using.
Tisanes can be thought of as all-round, holistic tonics and infusions that sool and heal with their natural properties. From their aroma and taste to their underlying medicinal properties they give you an overall effect of goodness in both body and mind. NY Spice Shop carried a number of well-crafted tisanes as well as many of the dried herbs and spices mentioned in this article. So why not introduce yourselves to the wonderful world of tisanes and start with a starter sample from us?
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