By Yvonne Blackwood~
To date, the articles we have written about tea covers only true tea—the beverage brewed from the Camellia Sinensis plant. I would be remiss, however, if I did not touch on another kind of beverage, also referred to as tea, or more popular known as tisane.
Tisane is any beverage made from material other than the Camellia Sinensis bush. All herbal teas—tea brewed from barks, stems, berries, seeds, and even leaves of other plants—is classified as tisane. The Merriam Webster dictionary defines tisane this way, “An infusion (as of dried herbs) used as a beverage or for medicinal effects.
Herbal teas have existed for centuries dating back to ancient Egypt and China. They have become extremely popular in the western world in recent years.
The question one usually asks is; what is the difference, other than source, between true tea and tisane? There are several differences between these two types of beverages.
First, the caffeine content. All teas from the Camellia Sinensis bush have some caffeine and vary depending on whether it is white, green, oolong, or black tea. Tisane on the other hand usually has no caffeine.
Safety is another issue to be considered when you drink tisanes. Since these teas can be brewed from a variety of plant materials they may include some plants that are known to be toxic. Some may even contain allergenic material; therefore the specific ingredients must be checked individually for health and safety. In addition, the source of the herbal ingredients, like any crop, may be contaminated with pesticides or heavy metals.
Some herbal teas can affect pregnant women. It is known that some medicinal herbs such as bitter melon, mace and papaya are regarded as abortifacients, and can cause a miscarriage.
When it comes to tisane, it is a matter of individual make-up. While one herbal tea may be fine for some people, it may have a negative effect on others.
In spite of the possible negative effects that can arise from drinking tisane, most herbal teas sold in retails stores could be considered safe; however, one should be cautious of medicinal herbal teas if they are not labelled in detail. According to an article in Readers Digest—Best Health Magazine, “Herbal tea has lots of wonderful health benefits. From soothing a troubled tummy to easing insomnia and calming a troubled mind.”
Do you have a favourite tisane?