What Is a Tisane?
Understanding the Difference Between a Tea and a Tisane
Recently, I was having a conversation with someone who I considered to be pretty tea-savvy. For some reason, I started talking about a tisane and they gave me “the look.” You know the one—super confused, scrunched up eyes, and an awkward half smile. She had no idea what I was talking about.
So, I immediately knew I had to write about the topic—what is a tisane? Let me dive into the specifics to give more clarity.
Tea vs. Tisane
According to The Spruce Eats, a tisane is essentially a more technical term for herbal tea. However, it’s important to note that a tisane is not technically tea at all. In fact, an herbal tea or “tisane,” is an infusion or decoction made from a plant other than the Camellia sinensis where true tea derives from. These infusions are caffeine-free and can be made from leaves, bark, roots, berries, seeds, and spices (more on this later). Common tisanes include mint, chamomile, verbena, and rooibos. For history’s sake, I’d also like to include that tisanes were enjoyed in ancient China and Egypt and consumed for pleasure as well as medicinal purposes.
Caffeine and Tisanes
As a general rule of thumb, all true teas have caffeine, ranging in potency from ~35 milligrams to ~90 milligrams depending on the variety. Tisanes, however, are almost always caffeine-free, meaning that they never contained any caffeine unlike “decaf” teas. If you’re a fan of caffeine-free blends, try one of our lightly pre-sweetened flavors—the Lavender Chamomile Kick, our best-selling herbal blend with a cult-like following, is such a soothing tisane. Not into caffeine-free drinks and looking for a bit of a morning buzz? You can always opt for traditional caffeinated teas, too.
How to Brew Tisanes
Once you have your preferred herbal tea or tisane in hand, it’s crucial that you abide by the best brewing practices to enjoy the perfect cup. The Kitchn points out that the average brewing time for tea is pretty short compared to tisanes. An herbal infusion can range in prep time from 4 to 15 minutes. Other tips to making tasty tisanes include pre-heating your cup, boiling water and covering up your mug or teapot while the infusion magic is doing its thing—this helps capture the heat, hold a consistent brew temperature, and keeps the aroma and flavor locked inside. Going into a bit more detail, there are actually two different ways to prepare tisanes:
This is how we usually make tea. It simply requires you to pour boiling water over a bag or infuser, and steep.
This method allows you to place the plant material in boiling water instead of pouring the water over top. Doing it this way releases more essential oils and flavors, and it’s a go-to method for plant matter that has tough or small surfaces like bark, roots, and berries.
Types of Tisane
There are several tisane varieties worth mentioning, and they’re typically organized by the plant they’re derived from. Here are a number of tisane “categories” you’ll likely come across:
- Leaf tisanes: French verbena, mint, lemongrass
- Flower tisanes: rose, chamomile, hibiscus, lavender (I’m looking at you Lavender Chamomile Kick)
- Bark tisanes: cinnamon, black cherry bark
- Fruit/berry tisane: raspberry, blueberry, peach, apple (You too, Summer Peach Rooibos)
- Seed/spice tisane: cardamom, caraway, fennel
- Root tisane: ginger, turmeric, echinacea, dandelion, and burdock root
Phew, now I feel better. I’m going to send this article to my friend ASAP. Consider yourself an official #teanerd now—make that #tisanenerd.
If you’re interested in learning more about different aspects of the tea world, check out my other article about chai tea benefits. Or, learn how I paired each Embrew blend with a complementary sweetener when you discover the infamous “flavor matrix.” Lastly, be sure to snag my top recommendations for electric kettles if you’re in the market for making tea time more efficient.