How to brew herbal tea (Tisanes)
Herbal teas (also called tisanes) are an easy and delightful way to support specific parts of your body and your overall wellbeing. Although known as ‘tea’, herbal teas are actually an infusion or decoction made from plants other than Camellia sinensis (the plant that true teas such as black, green and oolong come from).
The legend of teaAccording to a Chinese legend, tea was discovered accidentally by emperor Shen-Nung approximately 3,000 years before Christ as follows: The emperor set up camp with his entourage in the shade of a large tree. A fire was made and a pot with boiling water was prepared. The heat of the fire brought some of the leaves of the long branches of the tree to dry out. Suddenly, a fierce wind got up and blew some of the leaves into the pot with boiling water. The water turned golden and a delicious scent appeared. The emperor tried the drink and was delighted by the scent and delicious taste. Being immediately aware of the refreshing and invigorating effect, the emperor let out the sound "T'sa", meaning godlike so that, until today, "cha" is the name for tea in Chinese.
How to brew herbals
There are two types of brewing methods used for herbal tea blends: Infusion and decoction.
Infusing is best for leaves, flowers and the more delicate and/or aromatic parts of a plant. They require less time and usually a lower water temperature to release their constituents.
The decocting method is used for tougher, denser materials like roots, bark, fruit and berries. These types of herbs require more heat and a longer brewing to time to break down and release all their goodness.
The herbs in this photo (Cold + Flu Armour tea) are dense and take longer to brew. I use the decoction method for these.
- Heat water (filtered water is preferable) to about 90-95 degrees celcius (in kettle or pot).
- While the water is heating, put your herbs into a teapot or tea strainer and pour about half a cup of cold filtered water over the herbs. This ‘wakes’ them up and will stop them from burning (burning the herbs will make your tea taste bitter). You can tip the cold water out or keep it in your pot/cup if you prefer your tea warm.
- Pour hot water into your cup or teapot. Cover the vessel to prevent the herb’s volatile oils from escaping with the steam.
- Steep (brew) for around 5-20 minutes, depending on your tea’s brewing instructions.
- After steeping, using your tea strainer press down on the herbs with a spoon to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Enjoy! If you make a large batch it will last in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
- Use a small saucepan (make sure it’s clean!)
- Add at least ¾ -1 teaspoon of tea per cup of water into a saucepan.
- Add fresh spring water into a saucepan with tea. If you want to make one cup of tea, use at least 1 ½ cup of water because some of it will evaporate.
- Bring water to a boil over a medium heat, then reduce to low and simmer for another 15-30 minutes.
- Strain and pour into cups.
- Add sweetener if needed.
I use this method for my Cold + Flu Armour tea blend as it contains herbs such as Astragalus, elderberries, cinnamon and ginger – which really benefit from a longer brewing time.
The question is: are you drinking tea for pleasure or wellness?
Generally, the difference between the two is dosage. Most herbal tea instructions will indicate 1 teaspoon of herbs per cup. However if you are looking to use the tea for a specific ailment a stronger dosage is usually required.
For example, I use Inner Peace tea when I’m feeling stressed and need grounding. I use about 2 level teaspoons per cup and make a large batch such that I can sip regularly through my day.
The same applies with my Throat + Cough tea blend. It works its magic when you take a stronger dose and drink it regularly.
Shelf life and storing teas
Herbal teas will generally last up to two years, however they are at their best (both in taste and nutritionally) in the first year. To extend their shelf life keep your teas in airtight containers (preferably glass, not plastic) and store your teas in a dark cupboard below 25 degrees Celsius.
I hope this information helps you with your tea making. It's ideal to drink about 7-8 cups of water a day so why not drink herbal teas and make each sip more tasty and nutritious!