… is that it is not tea at all! Tea, if we want to be specific (and I love being specific!), comes only from the camellia sinensis plant. If it’s not camellia sinensis, it’s simply not tea.
Now, in the United States, what we commonly refer to as ‘herbal teas’ are actually tisanes or herbal infusions. They may include leaves, flowers, bark, fruit or other parts of a variety of plants that can be steeped in hot water in the same manner as tea. It’s a veritable bouquet of possibilities!
There are the more fruity infusions, that are flavored with lemon, orange, raspberry or strawberry. Or more leafy or grassy varieties such as mint or lemongrass. Floral infusions, such as lavender, chamomile are also favorites.
Char always enjoyed a lemon tisane after a long day of talking. She liked how it felt on her throat. Kat, on the other hand, is more likely to reach for a chamomile blend after a long day when she’s ready to wind down. There is something in common between these ladies that I adore whenever they reached for an herbal infusion. They seemed to want to connect with nature in a special way. Perhaps there wasn’t time or weather did not permit for a walk outside to breathe in the season. But in one simple cup, nature could come fully to them. It’s a beautiful exercise in creating your own environment, isn’t it? A desire to walk through the fields of Provence could result in a cup of a fragrant lavender blend. Longing for the coast of California might end up as a sunny, orange-infused blend. I love the practice, and I strongly encourage it! Sometimes one simply can’t get to nature. So bring nature to yourself in a simple and lovely way!
Herbals have their own unique scents, flavors and characteristics that are completely separate from tea, and yet there is a similar allure to them. You’ll even see them sitting right next to tea in the grocery store! Go ahead. Peruse the aisle. Decide where you’d like to take your senses.
Most herbal infusions have no caffeine, so they can be a lovely caffeine-free option for your own daily enjoyment or for entertaining. Instead of an after-dinner coffee, take a leaf out of Char’s book and serve a fragrant mint infusion. The fresh character of this choice feels very reviving!
So, while I don’t have any confidence I’ll talk anyone out of calling them ‘herbal teas,’ I do know that you’ll show off your newfound knowledge in the very near future. And who knows, you may even embark on an herbal adventure contained in your own lovely cup!