Everything You Want to Know About Herbals and Tisanes

Herbal tea with tea pot

Herbal teas, also known as herbal infusions, are typically a blend of herbs, flowers, spices and dried fruit. The important thing to remember is that herbal teas, or tisanes as they are also known, are not derived from the Camellia sinensis plant that other teas originate from. This makes them neither worse or better— just different!

Whether you call them herbal teas, tisanes (pronounced “tea-zahn”), botanicals or infusions, they’re all basically the same. While “infusion” is a method of preparing tea, also known as “steeping,” these botanical teas are often referred to as “herbal infusions” in reference to the drink itself. No matter what you call them, herbal teas remain just as popular today as they were in ancient China and Egypt— and for good reason. In addition to the potential health benefits that many believe herbal teas have, for decaf fans, herbals offer a wide range of flavors that are generally caffeine-free (although there are some types of herbal teas that have caffeine; more on this later).

Also, remember that even though a lot of herbs are green, green tea is not herbal tea. Green tea also comes from the Camellia sinensis plant, making it a “true tea.” Also, green tea is caffeinated, while as we mentioned, the vast majority of herbals are not. So, herbs may be green, but green tea is not an herbal tea. Got it?

Herbal Teas Go Waaaay Back

Herbal teas go back thousands of years. Ancient texts from China and Egypt have documented the use of herbal teas for medicinal purposes. Wherever there were plants, roots and herbs, our ancestors saw an opportunity to use them to create herbal teas. The Chinese in particular were huge fans of herbal teas as medicinal treatments and to enhance health overall. They refer to tisanes as “liang cha” which means “cooling tea.” One of its uses in China is to cool down the body when it becomes overheated.

Even the word “tisane” has Greek roots, coming from the Greek word “ptisane” which means peeled or crushed barley. The word was modified into the French “tisane” as it morphed into the crushing, cutting and tearing of a variety of botanicals to create herbal teas.

Benefits of Herbal Teas

As evidenced by history, herbal teas have many beneficial properties, each depending on the type of ingredients used in the tea. Among the benefits of just some of the popular ingredients used in tisanes, along with examples of some of our herbal teas with those good-for-you ingredients:

A wonderful calming herb, especially good for drinking before bedtime. Chamomile, Yellow & Blue with chamomile and lavender, and Lull Away.

Chamomile
arrow

Chamomile

Known for its nausea-calming properties. Ginger, Ginger Liquorice.

ginger
arrow

Ginger

Oranges, Lemon
Balm & Rose Hips

Vitamin C and antioxidants. Strawberry Kiwi Fruit Tea and Berry Young.

straw berry kiwi
arrow

Strawberries
& Kiwi

In addition to aiding with upset tummies, also a soothing phlegm fighter when you have a cold. Peppermint Herbal, Mint Verbena.

peppermint
arrow

Peppermint

Warms the body and helps clear congestion. Herbal Hot Cinnamon Spice.

cinnamon
arrow

Cinnamon

This spice is the main spice used in curry, but the plant’s root is often used to make medicine. Turmeric contains curcumin, a chemical that is thought to help with inflammation. Organic Ginger Turmeric, Golden Milk Glimmer.

tumeric
arrow

Turmeric

Once a widely maligned food, coconut has been rediscovered as having some very beneficial properties. It is a powerhouse of manganese, which is essential for bone health, as well as many other nutrients. Hemp Moringa Deep Sleep Tea.

COCONUT
arrow

Coconut

For centuries, Ashwagandha root has been used in supplements to provide rich antioxidants and naturally boost immunity. Chaga Wonder.

AshwagandHa root
arrow

Ashwagandha
Root

Canadian Chaga mushrooms are an adaptogen with all-natural properties that help the body reduce stress. Chaga Chai Nourish.

Chaga mushrooms
arrow

Chaga
Mushrooms

Benefits of Herbal Teas

As evidenced by history, herbal teas have many beneficial properties, each depending on the type of ingredients used in the tea. Among the benefits of just some of the popular ingredients used in tisanes, along with examples of some of our herbal teas with those good-for-you ingredients:

A wonderful calming herb, especially good for drinking before bedtime. Chamomile, Yellow & Blue with chamomile and lavender, and Lull Away.

Chamomile
arrow

Chamomile

Known for its nausea-calming properties. Ginger, Ginger Liquorice.

ginger
arrow

Ginger

Oranges, Lemon
Balm & Rose Hips

Vitamin C and antioxidants. Strawberry Kiwi Fruit Tea and Berry Young.

straw berry kiwi
arrow

Strawberries
& Kiwi

In addition to aiding with upset tummies, also a soothing phlegm fighter when you have a cold. Peppermint Herbal, Mint Verbena.

peppermint
arrow

Peppermint

Warms the body and helps clear congestion. Herbal Hot Cinnamon Spice.

cinnamon
arrow

Cinnamon

This spice is the main spice used in curry, but the plant’s root is often used to make medicine. Turmeric contains curcumin, a chemical that is thought to help with inflammation. Organic Ginger Turmeric, Golden Milk Glimmer.

tumeric
arrow

Turmeric

Once a widely maligned food, coconut has been rediscovered as having some very beneficial properties. It is a powerhouse of manganese, which is essential for bone health, as well as many other nutrients. Hemp Moringa Deep Sleep Tea.

COCONUT
arrow

Coconut

For centuries, Ashwagandha root has been used in supplements to provide rich antioxidants and naturally boost immunity. Chaga Wonder.

AshwagandHa root
arrow

Ashwagandha
Root

Canadian Chaga mushrooms are an adaptogen with all-natural properties that help the body reduce stress. Chaga Chai Nourish.

Chaga mushrooms
arrow

Chaga
Mushrooms

What About Caffeine?

a chart showing caffeine levels for various types of tea with the order of least to greatest being green tea, oolong tea, black tea, matcha tea, and finally white tea

*While it is true that nearly all herbal teas do not contain caffeine since they are made from herbs and not the Camellia sinensis plant, some do. These teas have herbs that are primarily from the Americas, and they can be loaded with caffeine. We carry several types of these caffeinated herbal teas that allow you to drink your herbs and get your caffeine, too.

Yerba Mate is a popular South American beverage, a favorite of Argentinian cowboys (gauchos) who needed to stay awake atop their saddles. We carry a mint variety as well.

yerba mate
arrow
Yerba Mate

Guayusa hails from Ecuador. The guayusa leaves contain caffeine as well as antioxidants. It won’t help you speak Spanish any better, but it can help you stay awake while you practice your Spanish lessons.

guayusa
arrow
Guayusa

Yaupon is a holly native to America and is a unique Native American tea that is making a comeback. We offer this caffeinated beverage in Yaupon Black and Yaupon Green.

yaupon black
arrow
Yaupon

Sometimes you’ve just got to pull one, and this is the tea to power you through. Blended with both guayusa and yerba mate and flavored with licorice, you will be up as advertised.

allnighter
arrow
Allnighter

American Buzz contains three caffeinated herbs from the Americas: yaupon from Texas, guayusa from Ecuador and yerba mate from Brazil (as well as some spearmint from Washington for fun).

american buzz
arrow
AMERICAN BUZZ
SHOP HERBALS

What Is Rooibos?

We couldn’t talk about herbal teas without mentioning rooibos (“roy-boss” or “roy-buhs”). This uniquely South African tea is a caffeine-free herbal that brews up a beautiful red color. Rooibos is said to have many beneficial properties as well, including boosting your immune system, improving heart health and lowering blood pressure, balancing blood sugar, is good for your liver, intestinal system and skin, is safe for people with kidney stones to drink due to the lack of oxalic acid and many more. We incorporate rooibos into many of our most popular caffeine-free tisanes.

How to Brew and Enjoy Your Herbal Teas

Herbal teas are delicious hot or cold. Regardless of how you take your tea, follow the steps below and then add ice if desired. If brewing for iced tea, consider using a larger batch of tea as the ice will dilute the flavor.

Instructions:

  1. Preheat a teapot by pouring boiling water into it, raising the temperature of the teapot to at least 180°.
  2. Discard the water. In your teapot, or filter, add 1 tsp of loose tea for each cup of tea you’re brewing.
  3. Pour fresh boiling water over the tea or tea bag. This super-saturates the tea, allowing the perfect extraction of the flavor.
  4. The water temperature should be 212°F (100°C). Let the tea steep for a full 5 minutes.
  5. Pour the tea through a strainer into the cups.

Just some of the many common items you can put into your herbal tea concoction:

  • Peppermint leaves
  • Dried chamomile flowers
  • Dried lemon peel
  • Peeled and dried fresh ginger strips
  • Lavender
  • Dried blood oranges
  • Rose hips
  • Dried apples
  • Dried pomegranate
  • Dried lime peel
  • Dried cranberries
  • Dried calendula (aka marigolds)

Make Herbal Blends at Home

While Harney offers a wide variety of herbal tea blends, you can get creative at home just like we do in our blending room at our Millerton, New York facility. It’s easy and fun to create your blends, enjoy your own unique beverage and share with family and friends for a one-of-a-kind gift.

You can create a batch of homemade herbal tea from quite a variety of ingredients. These caffeine-free beverages can also be concocted with ingredients that have known health benefits to create a beverage that is not only good but good for you.

Use a vegetable peeler to get a nice fine peel on your ingredients. To dry them, you can either use a food dehydrator or your oven. Set it at a low temperature, like 200° F, and dry your items for a couple of hours. Store your ingredients in airtight containers. When ready to make your tea, use one part of each of your ingredients (or a half part for stronger items like ginger that tend to want to take over!), place them in an infuser and proceed to make tea like you normally would. Or, if you have a French press, you can make it that way as well.

Have fun experimenting with different ingredients you have around the house, or go exploring at a local herb market, health food store or spice market. Throw in a cinnamon stick or some honey for a natural sweetener. Add some essential oils like bergamot, peppermint, spearmint, lemon or lavender.

Some Herbal Tea Recipes

A cup of hot herbal tea or a glass of iced is always a good choice. But if you’d like to take it up a level, here are some great herbal recipes for you to try. Go insane with your tisane!

Chamomile Tea Latte

Instructions:

  1. Add everything except the vanilla to a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Heat until the milk has small bubbles around the edge of the saucepan, but do not bring to a boil. Let simmer for a couple minutes and add the vanilla extract. Turn off the heat and let the tea steep for 5-7 minutes.
  2. Pour the mixture through a strainer and into a French press. Give the tea a few pumps to create a nice frothy latte. Pour into two mugs and sprinkle with a little additional cinnamon.

Recipe from Oh How Civilized

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp chamomile tea, loose
  • 2 cups milk (regular, soy, almond, whatever you choose)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 whole cloves, crushed
  • 1 cinnamon stick plus ground cinnamon for garnish

Ingredients:

Simple Ginger-Turmeric Bliss

Instructions:

  1. Brew the tea according to the package directions in a small saucepan with the cinnamon (use enough tea for two servings).
  2. Strain into a mug and add the honey along with a squeeze of lemon. If you prefer, serve over ice with a lemon wedge garnish.

Recipe inspired by Ginger-Turmeric Herbal Tea

Rosé Rooibos Sangria

Instructions:

  1. Add sugar to a large (heat safe) measuring cup or pitcher that can hold at least 8 cups of hot liquid.
  2. Add 8 tsp African Autumn Rooibos Tea to a loose tea strainer (we recommend the Brew-In-Mug Infuser) and place in a measuring cup with sugar.
  3. Fill with 7 cups of 212ºF hot water. Allow to steep for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove tea, stir to make sure sugar is dissolved and set aside to cool while you cut the fruit.
  5. Wash fruit and thinly slice oranges and limes. Remove greens from strawberries and slice from top to bottom. Combine steeped tea, both bottles of Rosé, and all sliced fruit in a large pitcher. Cover and place in the fridge to chill for at least 45 min to 1 hour.

Source: Rosé Rooibos Sangria Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup organic sugar
  • 8 tsp African Autumn Rooibos Tea
  • 7 cups water (225F)
  • 2 (750ml) Rosé
  • 2 medium organic limes, washed and thinly sliced
  • 2 medium organic oranges, washed and thinly sliced
  • 6 large organic strawberries, sliced from top to bottom
  • Fresh mint for garnish (optional)

We hope you enjoy the world of herbal teas and all the options they offer, from caffeine-free to caffeinated, fruity and light to vegetal and hearty. You try telling them they’re not “real” teas!

CHEERS!

SHOP HERBALS