What is a herbal infusions?
Herbal infusions, teas or tisanes? The word tisane means an infusion of herbs and is the simplest and most perfect way to enjoy the refreshing, revitalising taste of herbs leaves, flowers and seeds.
The word “tea” has become confused and sometimes is interchanged with the word “infusion”. Strictly speaking, herbal infusions should not be called teas, and only the terms infusions or tisanes be used. All teas from herbal and traditional black tea to fruity mixes are technically infusions; this is where hot water is infused with flavours from the steeping leaves, fruits and herbs. Whereas a tea is a particular herbal infusion and solely refers to an infusion of the leaves of the plant Camellia sinensis.
Herbal infusions can be made from different plants, each one distinct in their flavour and properties as well as how and where they grow. This means herbal infusions exist in a kaleidoscope of distinctively different flavours, colours and aromas.
They can be enjoyed generally as a relaxing drink but also serve useful purposes providing a remedy for specific aliments or a helpful supplement to the daily diet. See Jekka’s Guide to Medicinal Herbs for some more information.
What are the benefits of herbal infusions?
The benefits of herbal infusions are extensive and range not only from the vitamins, minerals and other plant constituents that they release but also the short and long-term health benefits they provide, from being calmative and improving your well-being to aiding digestion. Herbal infusions are very good at combating the stress of everyday life and are a great alternative to your daily sugary and caffeinated drinks. This guide describes some of Jekka’s favourite herbs for making herbal infusions and also goes a little into the reasons why they are so good for us.
Jekka's Favourite Herbs for Herbal Infusions
Please make sure you only make infusions from herbs (or plants) that you know are edible. It is important to remember that some herbs can be harmful if you consume too much, such as if the infusions are allowed to steep too long. Combining the wrong herbs can also lead to problems. For this reason, please do your research before making any infusion you intend to drink. It's best to follow recipes from trusted sources and pay attention to any warnings given.
Consult your physician or herbalist before drinking infusions.
How do you make Herbal Infusions?
You can make herbal infusions from either fresh herbs picked from the garden or from dried herbs that you have brought or dried yourself.
They are incredibly simple to make and something we often take for granted. For the perfect brew, Jekka recommends using boiled, not boiling, water and steeping one bag or a few fresh leaves per cup for three to five minutes. You can sweeten with honey or sugar to taste. Best served without milk.
The example below is for the classic Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) herbal infusion, but you can substitute mint for other herbs or a combination of herbs to make your perfect blend.
- 5 fresh leaves or 2 small sprigs washed and patted dry. Or 1 teaspoon of dried leaves per person
- Boiled not boiling water
- A cup or a tea pot with lid to prevent the steam escaping, which contains many of the volatile oils (we use a cafetiere in our Master Classes)
- A tea strainer
- Honey to sweeten if required.
- Put the mint leaves into a cup or a teapot depending on how many you are serving.
- Pour over freshly boiled water. The water should be just off the boil, as vigorously boiling water disperses valuable volatile oils in the steam.
- Cover and infuse for 5-10 minutes, strain using a tea strainer or a bespoke herb tea mug which are now readily available on-line.
- Drink the tea while warm with sweetened honey if required.