Tea is a great beverage – a nice steamy cup of comfort. But what if you’ve reached your caffeine limit, need a little extra relaxation, or simply want to try some new flavours while you stay hydrated? Herbal infusions are a wonderful ritual to add to your self-care. Herbal infusions, or tisanes, are created by steeping plants in hot water just like tea, but they do not contain any Camellia sinensis (actual tea plant). You may have seen or enjoyed this summer’s trendy fruit infused waters; cooled herbal infusions are their kicked-up cousins.
To achieve the greatest enjoyment of flavour and benefits, brew your tisanes for at least 15 minutes and don’t add any dairy or non-dairy milks. Most tisanes taste better without much added anyway. If you would like to adjust the flavour, try adding citrus, honey, maple syrup or brewing a blend that includes stronger flavours like mint. You can easily prepare a jar in the evening and wake to a delicious brew in the morning. Here are a few fantastic herbs for soothing in the summer.
As always, consult your doctor if you are embarking on a new herbal regimen. These herbs are quite safe, but they can affect individuals differently (much like caffeine) and should be consumed with that in mind.
- Mason jar (or any clean 2 cup jar with lid)
- Herbs – You can use fresh or dried. If using fresh herbs, finely chop them and multiply the amount required by three. You can also find tisanes in the tea aisle of your grocery store – look for high quality brands with no added flavours. Plants can share names, so always check for the Latin scientific name in the ingredient list to be sure you are using the right herbs.
- Freshly boiled water
- Fine mesh strainer
- Measure desired amount of herb and place in jar or simply use a teabag of herbal tea.
- Pour freshly boiled water over the herbs to fill jar and loosely cover with lid. Covering the infusion prevents the beneficial volatile oils from escaping with the steam.
- Be careful and use oven mitts or a dry tea towel when handling the jar as it will get very hot.
- Allow to infuse for 15 minutes to 3 hours. Once you have infused for the desired length, pour your infusion through the strainer into a clean cup or jar.
The flavour intensifies and can become bitter with longer brew times, so start out with shorter infusions to determine your taste preference. Stronger infusions are better to use if making an iced beverage. Use a cocktail shaker to mix 1 cup strong brewed infusion with ice, 1 – 3 tsp of maple syrup, and a few squirts of lemon juice for a real treat.
*Measurements given for dried herbs
Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)
This classic, refreshing mint is a digestive aid that can wake you up with its peppy flavour alone – no caffeine necessary. This is a great solution for an afternoon pick-me-up that will not keep you awake late into the night. Do not consume with iron rich foods since, just like tea and coffee, it inhibits iron absorption. Use 2 heaping teaspoons per 2 cups water and infuse for 10 -15 minutes.
German chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
A hallmark of herbal home remedies, mothers have long been soothing unhappy children with a cup of chamomile. Known to be helpful for the psyche and stomach, chamomile is a sweet, gentle herb that can help you unwind in the evening and put you in the mood for a good sleep. Drink this one warm and don’t steep it for more than 15 minutes, as it is a delicate herb best enjoyed cozy in a cup with honey and lemon. It is also very nice chilled in a blend with lemon balm and mint. For those with ragweed allergies, use with caution as it is part of the same family of plants. Consume separate from iron rich foods. Use 4-6 tsp per 2 cups water and infuse 10 – 15 minutes.
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
This citrusy herb is used to aid digestive discomfort, especially when associated with anxiety and depression. Contact your doctor before using lemon balm if you have thyroid issues as it may interfere with thyroid hormones. Use 4-6 tsp per 2 cups water and infuse 15 minutes.
Dill (Anethum graveolens)
We’ve all heard the advice of drinking a glass of water or a bowl of soup before a meal to help manage appetite and calorie consumption, so why not make that liquid a dill infusion? Drinking a cup of dill seed tisane before dinner will not only help you feel full, but it may help relieve any discomfort digestion brings upon you. Use 2-4 tsp gently crushed dill seeds per 2 cups water and infuse 15 minutes.