What are tisanes?
Herbal teas, also known as tisanes, are beverages prepared by brewing or steeping botanicals such as roots, flowers, fruits, herbs or spices in hot water. Unlike regular teas, herbal teas do not contain the leaves of the tea plant (Camellia sinensis). As such, herbal teas are free from caffeine. What they do possess are the specific properties of the plant materials they are made of.
Herbal tea benefits
Countless variants and blends of herbal teas are consumed around the world. Some are marketed as holistic and are traditionally used for specific purposes like aiding weight loss or detoxing (Hibiscus or Licorice Root tea), fighting colds and flu (Ginger or Peppermint tea), or inducing good night’s sleep (Chamomile or Kava Kava Root tea). Others are just comforting and flavorful beverages (Rooibos or Jasmine tea). What they all have in common is their natural absence of caffeine. Herbal teas thus serve as healthy alternatives to coffee and high-caffeine teas, not to mention sodas and other sugary drinks.
Decaffeinated teas are not herbal teas
Decaffeination only applies to teas that contain caffeine, to begin with. Since herbal teas are naturally caffeine free, they do not need to undergo decaffeination. Therefore, the ‘decaf’ tag only applies to regular teas sourced from the Camellia sinensis plant.
What about flavored teas?
Flavored teas aren’t necessarily herbal either. Tea flavors can be natural or artificial in nature and can be added to a regular caffeinated tea to achieve a certain aroma, taste or texture. A batch of herbal tea made from all-natural ingredients (sans Camellia sinensis leaves) should not be confused with a black or green tea spiked with spices, herbs, flowers or artificial fruit flavorings.
Some (herbal) tea tips
Always read up on the ingredients in the herbal tea you’re interested in. This will help you cash in on the specific benefits you’re looking for, and avoid picking out something you’re allergic to or not really fond of. It is also best to stick to organic herbal teas and blends. These will be free from chemicals or additives that can interfere with the natural properties of the herbal ingredients.