A tea snobs guide to true tea terms

If you’re a true tea drinker, it’s important to know true tea snob terms. What can you call a Tea? What you most certainly cannot and why.

So let’s start off with what defines a Tisane (A french word pronounced “Ti-Zahn”). It is the technical term for what you probably know as “herbal tea”. Peppermint, chamomile, lemongrass, ginger, you name it; drop it in hot water and you’ve got yourself a tisane.  However, in the case that you drop in some Camellia Sinensis, you’ve got yourself tea. See, in the minds of tea drinkers around the world the actual term “tea” is reserved for brews which contain leaves (or buds) of the Camellia sinensis plant. So that chamomile and valerian concoction you drink before bed isn’t tea, strictly speaking; it’s a tisane. (As tea snobs we are, of course, compelled to make this distinction whenever the opportunity presents itself.)

While perhaps less impressive in process and history, and certainly less steeped in legend (pun fully intended), tisanes do have one very distinct advantage over traditional teas: they can be anything you want them to be. There are tisanes which fill one with energy, and which lift spirits. There are tisanes that lull one to sleep or calm an excited mind. What’s more, although the flavors of traditional tea can be stultifyingly complex, it is inherently limited by the fact that it comes from just one species of plant. Tisanes, on the other hand, have no such restrictions. You’re free to experiment with the earthy tones of yerba mate, the intoxicating sweetness of rose petals, the smokey tang of pink peppercorn, and the rich, full flavor of elderberries- all in one infusion. With tisanes, the sky’s the limit. So while some may turn up their nose at this non-traditional take on “tea,” we embrace the possibilities it provides, and invite you to do the same.