© Photo by Igor Miske on Unsplash
Especially during the colder months, tisanes are a delicious way to warm you up from the inside. Here are some tips on how to maximise the flavour and freshness of your infusions.
Chamomile, peppermint, fennel, anise… tisanes come in many different shapes and colours. Contrary to teas, they are also (mostly) free of caffeine, which means that you can even enjoy them just before bed.
However, seeing as many people still have difficulties distinguishing between tisanes and tea in the first place, it is perhaps worth going over some more tips to ensure that you are sipping on pinnacle brews all year round.
First, DO purchase good quality tisanes. This one always sounds obvious, but its importance cannot be overstated. If your base product is bad, there is very little you can do to improve the experience. In this context, it is also important to note that "good quality" does not necessarily have to mean "expensive". In order to find better quality tisanes, ditch the big chains and try to find smaller businesses. If there are none in your area, have a look on the internet: Many smaller shops in other countries ship their excellent products to customers all around the world.
Whatever you do, DON'T store your tisanes in the kitchen. While the kitchen might seem like the natural place to keep your tisanes (and teas, for that matter), it is actually probably the worst. The ideal storage place for your tisanes and teas should be slightly below room temperature, dark, and (more or less) odourless. The kitchen tends to be a warmer room and if you store your tisanes right next to your spices, don't be surprised to find some unexpected flavours in your next brew.
Feel free to get creative and DO experiment with blends. Some tisanes already taste great on their own but combining them with other herbal teas can lead to very interesting results. While you can just purchase ready-made herbal blends from sellers, the real fun starts once you develop a feel for different flavour profiles and instinctively sense what might go great together. Some tisanes also work really well with teas, e.g., purple roses and ripe PuErhs. One more tip for effective blending: Brew your infusions separately instead of in the same pot or cup. This allows you to mix&match to your heart's content.
When whipping up your infusions, DON'T restrict yourself to western brewing. If you have read our Do's and Don'ts about how to brew and appreciate tea, you know all about gong fu cha, or the Chinese tea ceremony. You can apply the same principles to tisanes: Increase the herb to water ratio, brew in small tea ware (gaiwans or gong fu teapots work great) and re-infuse several times – just make sure to always use boiling water for herbal teas!
For a bit of extra fun, DO consider keeping notes on your tisanes. These notes can include practical information, such as where you sourced it from, but also more personal remarks, e.g., flavour profiles. You might also want to consider recording any particular body sensations you might experience because a lot of herbal teas do have some sort of effect on you. For future reference, it can be helpful to keep a written record that you can easily come back to whenever you are looking for something specific.
Finally, DON'T leave your tisanes in the packaging they came in. For one, your tisanes will quickly lose their freshness if you just have them lying around in a plastic bag somewhere. Second, it just doesn't really look good. Instead, keep your herbal teas in airtight containers. Glass jars work fine, just make sure to keep them in a cupboard to protect your tisanes from sunlight.