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Richard Kilgore

Herbal Teas/Tisanes - what are your favorites?

34 posts in this topic

My favorite herbal tea is African rooibos tea, which is also known as redbush tea. It's delicious straight but because it has a richness and clarity of flavor like good black tea it also takes well to being served with milk and sugar.

Sometimes you can find it blended with other herbs such as chamomile or blended with spices. It's has no caffeine, is high in anti-oxidants, and supposedly soothing to upset stomachs.

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My favorite herbal tea is African rooibos tea, which is also known as redbush tea.  It's delicious straight but because it has a richness and clarity of flavor like good black tea it also takes well to being served with milk and sugar.   

Sometimes you can find it blended with other herbs such as chamomile or blended with spices.  It's has no caffeine, is high in anti-oxidants, and supposedly soothing to upset stomachs.

Thanks for the info on rooibos. Where do you get yours?

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Funnily, rooibos is a tea I absolutely don't "get".

Currently enjoying sage tea - I usually just put a generous sprig in my cup, and add hot water - one sprig lasts me for 2-3 cups. The simplicity is a big point in its favor! It's a while since I had sage tea with dried sage, so I will be interested to see how different the flavor is.

Red shiso tea - this is a favorite when my kids are tired and coming down with colds. I dry it and keep a bag of slightly crumbled leaves in the freezer.

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When in comes to herbal "teas," there aren't many I am willing to pay for anymore. I grew up on Mint Medley and Sleepytime blends from Twinings (I think), but I find that I get much better and more flavour if I make a blend myself. With the proliferation of bulk herb and spice sections at many grocery and specialty stores, I just buy 25 cents worth of this and that and play with it until I find something I like.

Currently, my evening concoction consists of hibiscus flowers, dried mint, goji berries, and a couple of strands of saffron. Sometimes I throw in a handful of chamomile, too. It's really nice...the saffron adds a layer of flavor that I really miss if I leave it out, and it really isn't too expensive if you buy the Spanish varieties instead of the lovely Kashmiri or Persian stuff.

I love to experiment with spices & other flavours in my nighttime brews.

I highly recommend getting a Mono Filio or similar teapot (not the Gemini model...haven't tried it yet) for this kind of tea steeping, by the way. They are pretty expensive, but worth every penny in my opinion. I know the Cultured Cup and In Pursuit of Tea carry them most of the time, as they can be kind of hard to find.


Greg

www.norbutea.com

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When in comes to herbal "teas," there aren't many I am willing to pay for anymore.  I grew up on Mint Medley and Sleepytime blends from Twinings (I think), but I find that I get much better and more flavour if I make a blend myself.  With the proliferation of bulk herb and spice sections at many grocery and specialty stores, I just buy 25 cents worth of this and that and play with it until I find something I like. 

Currently, my evening concoction consists of hibiscus flowers, dried mint, goji berries, and a couple of strands of saffron.  Sometimes I throw in a handful of chamomile, too.  It's really nice...the saffron adds a layer of flavor that I really miss if I leave it out, and it really isn't too expensive if you buy the Spanish varieties instead of the lovely Kashmiri or Persian stuff.

I love to experiment with spices & other flavours in my nighttime brews.

I highly recommend getting a Mono Filio or similar teapot (not the Gemini model...haven't tried it yet) for this kind of tea steeping, by the way.  They are pretty expensive, but worth every penny in my opinion.  I know the Cultured Cup and In Pursuit of Tea carry them most of the time, as they can be kind of hard to find.

Interesting idea, Greg. I also used herbal bagged teas for many years, but for the past several make Chamomille from TCC in the evening and use hibiscus from a Hispanic market to make iced tea. I never thought to try blending a variety of herbs and spices.

And yes, the Mono Filo pots are a great design, but I don't have one. For the chamomille I use a cup with infuser basket or a Western style teapot; for the hibiscus, I use the Western style teapot.

Does the Mono Filo basket clean up easily after brewing herbals? Infuser baskets trap a lot of herbal debris.

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At a herb class this summer I had and then started making at home a mix of lemon balm, mint, lemon basil and stevia. Very nice.


Cheese - milk's leap toward immortality. Clifton Fadiman

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Regarding DIYS herbal blends ---

I have picked up a few things at a Whole Foods (which carries much less in the way of bulk teas and herbs than they used to) and a couple of Asian markets, plus very good Chamomille from TCC, but am having a difficult time finding many of the ingredients teagal and Gre Glancy have mentioned.

Does anyone have web sources you like for these ingredients?

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TeaSource threw in a free sample of "White Sunshine" with a recent order. It's a blend of a white tea, chamomille and natural pomegranate extract. This is a bit tricky to brew, or can be if you deviate too much from their temp and time recommendations. I have doubled the tea to water ratio and it works okay, but go long or high and the chamomille will over-power the white tea. I'll have to try actually following their directions to the letter.

While this is a pleasant enough blend, I really prefer my white tea straight and my chamomille stronger.

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It's funny you ask about cleaning that big infuser basket on the Mono teapot...it isn't the easiest thing in the world to clean out the herbal infusions. Especially Chamomile debris. All my years of food safety and sanitation training make me embarrased to admit this, but I usually just tap out the large pieces of herbs and then let the debris dry out overnight in the little (optional unfortunately) bowl rest. Then I can tap the little bits out the next morning. :shock:

That teapot is worth every penny for the size of the infuser basket alone. It turns the entire pot into a steeping vessel...tea leaves unfurl with no interference. It does have two drawbacks that I have noticed so far: First is its tendency to dribble if you pour too quickly, and second is the fragility of the infuser basket handle. I grip the side of the basket when tapping tea leaves out of it after breaking the handle off of the first one I had.

Greg

By the way, the Cultured Cup's plain Chamomile is in fact the most flavorful with the least amount of twigs and debris that I have found yet. Good stuff.

When in comes to herbal "teas," there aren't many I am willing to pay for anymore.  I grew up on Mint Medley and Sleepytime blends from Twinings (I think), but I find that I get much better and more flavour if I make a blend myself.  With the proliferation of bulk herb and spice sections at many grocery and specialty stores, I just buy 25 cents worth of this and that and play with it until I find something I like. 

Currently, my evening concoction consists of hibiscus flowers, dried mint, goji berries, and a couple of strands of saffron.  Sometimes I throw in a handful of chamomile, too.  It's really nice...the saffron adds a layer of flavor that I really miss if I leave it out, and it really isn't too expensive if you buy the Spanish varieties instead of the lovely Kashmiri or Persian stuff.

I love to experiment with spices & other flavours in my nighttime brews.

I highly recommend getting a Mono Filio or similar teapot (not the Gemini model...haven't tried it yet) for this kind of tea steeping, by the way.  They are pretty expensive, but worth every penny in my opinion.  I know the Cultured Cup and In Pursuit of Tea carry them most of the time, as they can be kind of hard to find.

Interesting idea, Greg. I also used herbal bagged teas for many years, but for the past several make Chamomille from TCC in the evening and use hibiscus from a Hispanic market to make iced tea. I never thought to try blending a variety of herbs and spices.

And yes, the Mono Filo pots are a great design, but I don't have one. For the chamomille I use a cup with infuser basket or a Western style teapot; for the hibiscus, I use the Western style teapot.

Does the Mono Filo basket clean up easily after brewing herbals? Infuser baskets trap a lot of herbal debris.


Greg

www.norbutea.com

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Where do you get your stevia? I can only find powder and extracts, which I honestly think taste too much like their artificial counterparts (terrible). I haven't spent any time looking, but have been wanting to find a source for fresh or dried stevia to play with...

Your mix sounds really good. Does the basil not make the brew bitter?

At a herb class this summer I had and then started making at home a mix of lemon balm, mint, lemon basil and stevia.  Very nice.


Greg

www.norbutea.com

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Where do you get your stevia?  I can only find powder and extracts, which I honestly think taste too much like their artificial counterparts (terrible).  I haven't spent any time looking, but have been wanting to find a source for fresh or dried stevia to play with...

Your mix sounds really good.  Does the basil not make the brew bitter?

At a herb class this summer I had and then started making at home a mix of lemon balm, mint, lemon basil and stevia.  Very nice.

Stevia is easy to grow, though it won't take the cold winter here in the PNW.

San Francisco Herb Co carries dried leaves. they have excellent quality herbs.

http://www.sfherb.com/store/SearchStoreResults.asp

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Where do you get your stevia?  I can only find powder and extracts, which I honestly think taste too much like their artificial counterparts (terrible).  I haven't spent any time looking, but have been wanting to find a source for fresh or dried stevia to play with...

Your mix sounds really good.  Does the basil not make the brew bitter?

At a herb class this summer I had and then started making at home a mix of lemon balm, mint, lemon basil and stevia.  Very nice.

Stevia is easy to grow, though it won't take the cold winter here in the PNW.

San Francisco Herb Co carries dried leaves. they have excellent quality herbs.

http://www.sfherb.com/store/SearchStoreResults.asp

Thanks for the tip. I'll check it out.

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I saw a pointer to this topic in the 'what tea are you drinking today?' topic.

I have been posting here pretty much exclusively about tea from camellia sinensis, but sometimes I want something without caffeine, or crave the a different flavor profile, and make some herb teas.

I used to drink a lot of celestial seasonings chamomile and various zingers, but then read the back of a couple of packages one day, visited the local co-op bulk herb section, and started to collect things to make my own mixes.

Lately I have most often made a mix of chamomile (the base flavor), hibiscus (for tartness), a touch of dried orange peel (citrus flavor) and licorice root (a little adds a lot of sweetness). Sometimes I just want peppermint and chamomile. My most recent discovery is tulsi--Holy Basil. I was given a set of tulsi tea bags last year as a gift from a friend who went to India, and find it adds a nice spicy touch to whichever mix I put it in. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find more of it in the nearest Indian groceries, so I'll be running out soon.

I've never tried saffron in the mix--that sounds interesting.

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I love whole flower chrysanthemum, both the tastes and outlook. I also drink chamomile a few times a month, when I feel I need its health benefits. I am neutral to its taste.

Rose bud is another one I like for evenings.

I am not sure if roasted barley or rice count as "herbal" tea, but I like them both (in no-green-tea versions).

Osmanthus, longan (dragon eye fruit), hawthorn, dried plums, I boil them in water to make "sweet soup", but not sure if they count for "herbal tea" :raz:

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Love drinking peppermint tea or just plain green leaf tea. Really good substitute for juices and soft drink.

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My favorite herbal tea is chrysanthemum. In fact chrysanthemum is maybe the most widely consumed herb in China having many purported medicinal values.

Chrysanthemum tea is a flower-based tisane made from chrysanthemum flowers of the species Chrysanthemum morifolium or Chrysanthemum indicum, which are most popular in East Asia. To prepare the tea, chrysanthemum flowers (usually dried) are steeped in hot water (usually 90 to 95 degrees Celsius after cooling from a boil) in either a teapot, cup, or glass; often rock sugar is also added, and occasionally also wolfberries. The resulting drink is transparent and ranges from pale to bright yellow in color, with a floral aroma. In Chinese tradition, once a pot of chrysanthemum tea has been drunk, hot water is typically added again to the flowers in the pot (producing a tea that is slightly less strong); this process is often repeated several times.

Varieties of chrysanthemum tea

Several varieties of chrysanthemum, ranging from white to pale or bright yellow in color, are used for tea. These include:

Huángshān Gòngjú (黄山贡菊, literally "Yellow Mountain tribute chrysanthemum"; also called simply Gòngjú (贡菊)

Hángbáijú (杭白菊), originating from Tongxiang, near Hangzhou; also called simply Hángjú, (杭菊)

Chújú (滁菊), originating from the Chuzhou district of Anhui

Bójú (亳菊), originating in the Bozhou district of Anhui

Chrysanthemum buds, (胎菊), is a kind of small chrysanthemum, it's value & taste is much better than other Chrysanthemum.

Of these, the first two are most popular. Some varieties feature a prominent yellow flower head while others do not.

chrysanthemum-tea.png

Gongju- Huangshan Tribute  Chrysanthemum Tea

chrysanthemum-buds.png

Chrysanthemum Buds

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I recently bought some linden flowers from an international grocery store, and haven't yet tried to make tea with them. How do you like to prepare it?

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I always get it in tea bags, which I get usually from the Brazilian grocery store in my neighborhood, but the European stores have them too. I just put a bag in the cup and pour boiling water on it. I use on the boil water because i am so used to doing that for Black tea. It has a very very slightly mucilaginous mouth feel and grassy taste that i enjoy. I am persnickety about my black tea and its preparation, but not at all so about tisanes.

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Wait... did I actually put in writing I am not persnickety? because I am. I do not like anything from celestial seasonings, and I do not like fake fruit flavored tea, except for blackcurrant, when I am sick because it tastes like Ribena and is therefore comfort food. I like my mint tea made with fresh mint. I like my chamomile either loose, or in bags from the Greek or middle eastern store, these kinds come out strong and bitter enough to make me happy.

And for the most part i don't like blends. So i guess i am persnickety. Just not about the boiling water.

O and i like hibiscus best plain, bought as Jamaica from the Spanish grocery store.

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The Uk company Pukka Herbs makes some very nice herbal teas. Their "Three Ginger" is fantastic as is their "Three Tulsi", and I also like "Detox", "Cleanse" (don't be put off by the names - detox is a great tea after a meal due to it's digestive herbs and cleanse is a plesent nettle-mint-dandelion combo), "Night Time"...there are tonnes more.

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Ginger with lemon, hands down. I'll use fresh ginger, dried ginger, whatever. Quite a bit of it. I sometimes ratchet up the heat with a bit of cayenne. It's more warming than other hot infusions (apart from coffee), which I like because my job means I tend to sit still for extended periods of time, making my body temperature plummet, even in summer.

Not exactly a tisane, but I also make thick beverage from powdered rosehips, which is warming enough to make me start sweating. It isn't particualrly tart, so this gets lemon, too.

Chamomile and hops, if I'm not feeling sleepy when I should. I like tinkering with the blend too much to go for prepackaged, although I know there are some very good one out there.


Michaela, aka "Mjx"
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