"If man has no tea in him, he is incapable of understanding truth and beauty."--Japanese Proverb
There is a difference between tea and herbal "tea". The proper name for herbal tea is tisane. All tea, where black or green comes from one plant who scientific name is camellia sinensis. Herbal "tea" can be made from numerous health-giving plant.
Health Benefits of Tea
Helps to lower cholesterol and risk of stroke. Approximately 40 mg caffeine per cup.
Aids in weight loss. Approximately 30 mg caffeine per cup.
Aids in weight loss. May lower the risk of cancer and heart disease. Approximately 25 mg caffeine per cup.
Fights cardiovascular disease and cancer. Approximately 15 mg caffeine per cup.
Herbal Tea (Tisanes)
Fights and protects against a myriad of disorders. Approximately 0 mg caffeine per cup.
Flavored or Perfumed Tea
Has the same benefits of the above teas, plus additional benefits from the natural flavoring agents.
Chinese legend dates green tea back to 2737 BC when the emperor Shen Nung was boiling water next to an open window, and tea leaves blew through the window and into the pot. He drank the concoction, and enjoyed it so much that tea became a favorite beverage in China.
Herbal teas are a major part of the tea world… even though they're not technically teas. Learn about the difference between a "tisane" (or herbal tea) and a "true tea," how tisanes are categorized, and how to make tisanes at home.
Tea vs. "Herbal Tea"
With a title like "herbal tea," you'd think that chamomile, mint, rooibos and the like would be tea. However, all true teas are from the same plant, camellia sinensis.
What is commonly referred to as an "herbal tea" is actually an infusion or decoction made from a plant other than camellia Sinensis. For this reason, there is a trend toward the use of terms like "tisane" (pronounced tea-zahn).
Types of Tisanes
Tisanes are usually categorized by what part of the plant they come from. Here are some examples of each of the major categories of tisanes:
• Leaf tisanes: lemon balm, mint, lemongrass and French verbena
• Flower tisanes: rose, chamomile, hibiscus and lavender
• Bark tisanes: cinnamon, slippery elm and black cherry bark
• Root tisanes: ginger, echinacea and chicory
• Fruit/berry tisane: raspberry, blueberry, peach and apple
• Seed/spice tisanes: cardamom, caraway and fennel
Sometimes, tisanes are made from a blend of plant types or from multiple parts of the same plant. Occasionally, tisanes are made from moss, stems or other plant matter. Kombucha is often classified as a tisane, but it is technically a symbiotic colony of yeast and bacteria (or "SCOBY").
Tisanes may also be classified as medicinal or not. While many tisanes are high in antioxidants and nutrients, some have long histories of medicinal use, while others are typically consumed for simple enjoyment. "Detox teas" are a popular category of medicinal tisanes.
How to Make Tisanes
Most tisanes should be prepared as an infusion or decoction.
Decoctions release more essential oils and flavor from plant matter and are often used for plant matter with tough surfaces or smaller surface areas. For this reason, leaf, flower and seed tisanes are generally steeped, whereas bark, root and berry tisanes are generally prepared as decoctions.
Brewing times and proportions for tisanes vary widely. They may be as short as two minutes or as long as 15 minutes, and may require as little as a pinch of plant material per cup of water or as much as several tablespoons per cup. Luckily, most vendors will supply you with instructions for each type they offer.
If your tisane comes with brewing instructions, use them and then adjust the quantities/time to your tastes. If not, contact Embellir for instructions for that particular tisane.
Warning: Never use an aluminum pot to prepare a tisane. Aluminum is a reactive metal, so it can react with the herb and, depending on the plant type, it may produce a very toxic beverage.
Oxidation: For teas that require oxidation, the leaves are left on their own in a closed room where they turn progressively darker. In this process the chlorophyll in the leaves is enzymatically broken down, and its tannins are released or transformed. This process is referred to as fermentation in the tea industry, although no true fermentation happens since the process is not driven by microorganisms. The tea producer may choose when the oxidation should be stopped. For light oolong teas this may be anywhere from 5-40% oxidation, in darker oolong teas 60-70%, and in black teas 100% oxidation.
White Tea is not oxidized.
Green Tea undergoes minimal oxidation.
Oolong Tea is semi-oxidized.
Black Tea is completely oxidized.
Red Tea is completely oxidized.
Tips for Brewing the Best Cup of Hot Tea
Since its discovery over 5,000 years ago, tea has become an integral part of our lives. For some, brewing and drinking tea is an art form and, according to a Japanese proverb, "If man has no tea in him, he is incapable of understanding truth and beauty."
To appreciate the experience of a well-brewed cup of tea, we have created this Brewing Guide. Of course, to find the method that best suits your tastes, you may need to experiment. Embellir offers a variety of options to ensure a great-tasting cup of enjoyment to suit any moment and palate.
Use fresh water (preferably distilled or bottled). Use freshly-drawn cold water as water that has been reheated gives tea a flat taste. If you're unhappy with the taste of your tea, you may, in fact, dislike the taste of your water. Try making a cup of tea with water from a purifier or bottled water and taste the difference.
Heat the water to the right temperature. Bring it to a rapid boil for black or herb tea (either in a kettle or a glass pot) to extract the full flavor. For green tea, the water should be hot, just to the point of boiling. Water temperature will drop rapidly, so bring your pot or cup to the stove and pour as quickly as possible.
Cover your cup. Whenever possible, if brewing tea by the cup, use the saucer to cover the cup and retain the heat. Some tea mugs on the market are designed with a built-in lid for added convenience and practicality.
Watch the clock, not the color. Never brew tea by color if you want the perfect cup. Some teas brew light, others dark. Always brew by the clock -- Embellir recommends three to five minutes for green and black teas, four to six minutes for herb teas, and six to 10 minutes for wellness teas.
Squeeze the bag. Some people have debated--to squeeze or to squeeze. Most tea purveyors recommends squeezing the bag because tea leaves can absorb up to seven times their weight in water and compressing the bag gently enhances color and flavor.
To Make Tea Infusion (Leaves & Flowers)
Boil 1 cup of water (preferably distilled) in a glass or stainless steel pot; when boiling, remove from heat; add 1 teaspoon of tea; cover and steep for 5-10 minutes. Strain into pretty tea cup; you can sweeten with honey if desired. Do not use artificial sweeteners. To make larger quantities of hot infusion use 1 oz. of herb per pint of water. Tea will keep well in the refrigerator for a day or two.
To Make A Decoction (Roots, Bark, & Seeds)
To prepare a medicinal decoction, use 1 tsp. of herb per cup water, cover, and gently boil for 15-20 minutes. Use glass, ceramic or earthenware pots to make your decoction; aluminum tends to taint herbal teas and impart a bitter taste to them. Strain the decoction. The tea will remain fresh for several days stored in the refrigerator.
Only use glass or stainless steel to prepare teas.
Ideally, prepare them daily.
Leaves and flowers are best infused.
Roots and seeds are best decocted.