Tisane for Two


Tisane – an infusion or decoction or herbs, spices or other plant material in hot water.

A tisane conjurers visions of delicacy and elegant refinement and seems a more enchanting invitation than the offer of a cup of herbal tea. It is strange that the interchange of one term for another can create an entirely different impression. Herbal tea still carries a medicinal whiff and a suspicion that it will be a dark green, evil tasting concoction. In contrast a tisane is light, refreshing and if it does not heal the body it will sooth the spirit.

Plants are integral to traditional and alternative medicine and in the modern pharmacopoeia many modern drugs are either derived from plants or synthesised from botanical compounds. So a glass of herbal tea might aid your digestion, help you relax, assuage the fevered brow, or even contain the elixir of eternal youth and if not, it can be enjoyed as a refreshing drink on a hot afternoon, a pleasant end to a good meal or a healthy start to the day.

The best tisanes are made with fresh leaves and water that has almost reached boiling point. The time for the infusion depends on personal taste and the strength of the herb. Delicate herbs like lemon verbena are left for the mere twinkling of an eye, mint and sage for a minute or two and ginger or fennel seeds about 5 minutes. A sliver of lemon or lime, a spoonful of honey can add to the pleasure and remove the lingering medicinal association. If you miss the caffeine kick, try a rosemary infusion to start the day. This is not for the timid and is reputed to be a reliable hangover cure.

On the next sultry afternoon when reduced to somnolence in the garden try a light infusion of sage with a sliver of lime and a tiny teaspoon of honey as an alternative to a cup of Earl Grey. Not as good as Pimms, but scores points with the Health Police!

Cottage Garden Herbs
Herbs for tisanes and borage for Pimms

13 thoughts on “Tisane for Two

  1. I must try rosemary or sage tea – lemon verbena is my favourite though.

  2. You nearly make me want to try some……but only nearly 😉

    • Live dangerously – just a sip?

      • Oh well, perhaps, for the sake of experimentation….

        • There is no need to close your eyes and pull a face, it isn’t horrid medicine.
          Perhaps mint or lemon balm if you don’t have lemon verbena. Don’t make it too strong and add a little honey.

          • I don’t even have mint at the moment, which needs to be remedied – any other suggestions for something that might gently convert me….?

          • At the risk of sounding like a seedy drug dealer, may I send you some mint cuttings? As for alternatives that is already in hand.

          • You are good to me – yes please. I shouldn’t really be in the position of being without mint, of course.

          • I grow mint by the acre, so I always have plenty to spare and will be delighted to send you a root.

  3. A great suggestion. Tisane is not the only think that will sooth the spirit- so will this blog. Cheers.

  4. I have a pot on to make tea right now…A trip to the herb garden is next on my list.

    • Hi Charlie, had to rescue you from the spam filter. Hope you enjoyed your tea.

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