Art of Tea Academy

Herbal Tisanes — Part 2 of 2

By Art of Tea on Jan 30, 2019 9:33:00 AM |


Herbal teas are becoming more and more important as the growth of herbs have gained in popularity. According to the American Botanical Council, sales of herbal teas have grown by 19% over the last few years. Tea suppliers nationwide are looking to capitalize on this trend by producing tasty herbal blends. Art of Tea has been producing herbal teas for many years and is poised to help our customers capitalize on this trend.


The term “herbal tea” is more of a colloquialism today, to mean, plant material steeped in hot water like “real” tea (Camellia sinensis). Herbal teas, for the most part, do not contain any Camellia sinensis tea. This category of tea, is sometimes referred to as tisanes or herbal infusions, so as not to confuse consumers. Like tea, these infusions can be served hot or iced.

Wikipedia states, “Tisane or herbal tea is any non-caffeinated beverage made from the infusion or decoction of herbs, spices, or other plant material in hot water.” However, this is not totally accurate. For decades, tea professionals have sworn that herbals are caffeine free. But, in the last few years, a group of caffeinated herbals have gained market share, these include the herbals yerba mate, guayusa, and yaupon.

Nearly every part of a plant can be used for herbal teas:

  • Leaves: peppermint, spearmint, rooibos
  • Fruits: rosehips, apple
  • Petals: jasmine, safflower, hibiscus, chrysanthemum
  • Herbs: lemon verbena, basil
  • Bark: cinnamon, willow
  • Seeds: anise, fennel, cardamom
  • Pollen: chamomile flower pollen
  • Grass: lemon grass, oat straw
  • Peels: orange, lemon
  • Nuts: almonds, cola, nutmeg
  • Roots: ginger, licorice

We use several different herbal ingredients in our herbal teas. Last week, we introduced you to several of these ingredients. What follows is an introduction to even more.


Latin Name: Mentha piperita

Origin: USA, Poland, Bulgaria, Egypt, Turkey, Germany, Yugoslavia

Description: The plant is a strongly aromatic annual that grows up to 3 feet. The leaf edges are serrated and the leaf stem is short and square. Generally, the leaves are 2 inches or more in length and about an inch wide with a smooth surface.

Part Used: Leaves

Color: Green to dark brown-green

Odor: Aromatic, menthol

Taste: Aromatic, minty, cooling, refreshing


Latin Name: Aspalathus linearis

Origin: South Africa

Description: The plant is a shrub with many thin branches and thin, needle-like, green leaves. Red rooibos is bruised by machine to ensure oxidation that develops the characteristic color and flavor, not unlike black tea. Green rooibos is not bruised, so oxidation essentially does not occur, similar to green tea.

Part Used: Stalks and leaves

Color: Reddish brown to greenish brown

Odor: Sweet, spicy

Taste: Earthy, mild, minerally


Latin Name: Rosa (with various species)

Origin: Asia, Europe, North America, Africa, Australia, South America

Description: Also known as rose haw or rose hep, it is the fruit of the rose plant that is typically red-to-orange, but ranges from dark purple to black in some species. Rose hips begin to form after successful pollination of flowers in the spring or early summer, and ripen in late summer through autumn.

Part Used: Fruit

Color: Clear Reddish

Odor: Sweet berry floral

Taste: Sweet, zesty, slightly bitter floral


Latin Name: Menta spicata

Origin: USA, Europe, Asia

Description: This plant is an herbaceous rhizomatous perennial plant, with variably hairless, to hairy stems and foliage, and a wide-spreading fleshy underground rhizome. Spearmint produces flowers in slender spikes, each flower being pink or white. The name “spear” mint derives from the pointed leaf tips.

Part Used: Leaves

Color: Green to dark brown-green

Odor: Aromatic, sweet

Taste: Sweet, aromatic, minty, refreshing


Latin Name: Oryza sativa

Origin: Asia

Description: Used in Genmaicha (brown rice tea) from Japan. It is sometimes colloquially referred to as popcorn tea, since a few grains of the rice pop during the roasting process to resemble popcorn.

Part Used: Seed

Color: Pale brown

Odor: Toasty, roasted

Taste: Toasted grain


Latin Name: Ocimum sanctum, various other species

Origin: India and throughout Southeast Asia

Description: Its history goes back as far as tea’s does. Hindus view tulsi as a goddess in the form of a plant. In India, it is referred to as the Queen of Herbs due to its healing powers. A commonly used herb in Ayurveda. The most common varieties are rama, vana, and Krishna, each having a moderately different taste. An aromatic plant of the Lamiaceae family with green or purple leaves, that are strongly scented.

Part Used: Leaf

Color: golden brown

Odor: Vana = forest herbs, Krishan = peppery, Rama = herbaceous

Taste: Vana has hints of lemony citrus, Krishan has slightly spicy and mint-like qualities, Rama

has a cooling mellow flavor


Latin Name: Ilex paraguariensis

Origin: Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil

Description: Begins as a shrub, but can grow into a tree over 50 feet tall. Yerba Mate is part of the holly genus and its leaves contain caffeine. A drink using the leaves of the plant is referred to as mate. Traditionally made in a gourd and consumed through a metal straw. Medium bodied medicinal drink of the Guarani Indians of South America. A healthy stimulating tisane from the Amazon Rainforest.

Part Used: Leaf

Color: Golden Brown

Odor: Smoky, Herbaceous

Taste: Smoky, Herbaceous, Notes of Cooked Vegetables

Art of Tea is an award winning purveyor of specialty and organic teas, based in Los Angeles, CA.

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