What makes for a good tisane?
March 8, 2005 5:04 PM   Subscribe

TeaFilter: Recently my wife tried an herbal tea and much to her and my surprise, she liked it. It was just a cheap bag, and so now I'm interested in finding some better stuff. What are some good tisanes to try? Where should I get it? What's the necessary equipment for a truly great brew? I should mention that I'm primarily interested in tisanes (herb tea), not traditional leaf teas. Thanks for understanding.

Everything we'd had before was pretty fruity (and forgettable): this was much more herbal. I'm looking for both the grocery-store easy-and-inexpensive as well as the exotic and expensive (if there is such a thing as expensive herb tea).

Online resources are prefered, since we live kinda out of the way of just about everything.
posted by terceiro to Food & Drink (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Coincidentally, I'm sitting here waiting for my chamomile to brew. I just bought a giant cheap thing of chamomile flowers (often found in the Latino products section of US supermarkets) and steep them.
posted by CunningLinguist at 5:09 PM on March 8, 2005

A good online source is Argo Tea. Their hibiscus tea is excellent, as is the Armenian mint.
posted by smich at 6:01 PM on March 8, 2005

Coincidentally, not an hour ago I placed an order for some Lapsang with Upton Tea Imports. Great tea, great documentation, but you will not find many "herbal" teas.
posted by anathema at 6:16 PM on March 8, 2005

i grow my own lavender (some french spiky kind) in pots, and usually dry the flowers. i also usually grow a pot of basil each summer.

i tried mixing the dried lavender flowers and a leaf of basil and steeping it in one of those mesh tea balls. very herbal, very refreshing. a good break from peppermint.

this is also herbal. it's strong, though.
posted by littlegirlblue at 6:17 PM on March 8, 2005

Try rooibus tea. I think it comes from Africa. There may be variant spellings (or I may have the spelling wrong).
posted by amtho at 6:26 PM on March 8, 2005

Rooibus is a plant/berry name, not a brand name.
posted by amtho at 6:26 PM on March 8, 2005

Ooh, and I also love adding candied ginger to my herb tea. Usually chamomile.
posted by amtho at 6:27 PM on March 8, 2005

Alvita has a ridiculous selection. White willow bark? Nettle leaf? Hops? They are owned by Twinlabs, so they probably have good distribution. They aren't pretentiously packaged, and most of their boxes don't say "Concentration Power Ginger Fuel" on them, which I like. The box I have here was 4.19 for 25 bags, so about 17 cents a bag.
posted by Jack Karaoke at 6:36 PM on March 8, 2005

i'm a huge fan of adagio (the ingenuitea cup is currently best. present. ever. from the hubby). they have a wide variety of tea types available.
posted by heather at 6:40 PM on March 8, 2005

I like the suggestions for Adagio brand, also growing your own herbs - chamomile is easy to grow, nand you can make your own blends.

For a corporate suggestion, Wild Sweet Orange Tazo tea (available at Starbucks and health food stores) is very good, as is most of their fruit blends. Very strong. My favourite is Lotus, but it's decaf green tea with jasmine, not what you're looking for.
posted by annathea at 7:33 PM on March 8, 2005

If you want maximum control, try growing your own herbs. You can mix and match and find what you like. They grow like weeds, too, so it's not a huge commitment on your part. Fun!

Here's a good link for getting started.
posted by mudpuppie at 7:41 PM on March 8, 2005

I've recommended Adagio here before, and I can personally vouch for their delicious lemon grass tea, foxtrot, and cha cha (combination of chamomile, lemon grass and peppermint!). They have small-sized samplers, awesome little brewing cups, and really great customer service. I have been a happy customer for years.
posted by fionab at 8:12 PM on March 8, 2005

I got some free samples of Yogi Tea. Unbelievable! I didn't have to add any sweetner, used the same bag for multiple brews, and the website is full of useful information. I like that they have some "women's teas", including one for prenatal (from what I've read some herbs aren't good for pregnant women).
posted by sadie01221975 at 11:46 PM on March 8, 2005

Yogi Tea rules. Try the Africain Redbush Peach or the Egyptian Licorice Mint
posted by ruelle at 12:37 AM on March 9, 2005

Camomile, linden and mint (all separately) are classics. Also try lemon balm. Watch out for the more commercial tisanes, which seem to have a lot of dodgy "flavorings" in them.

If black tea is out, you just might try green, which can be wonderful and is also good for you.
posted by zadcat at 1:33 AM on March 9, 2005

herbal teas are popular here (chile), so i'd second cunninglinguist's recomendation that you try a latino store/supermarket section. but also, what makes you think cheap is bad? these are just leaves - we used to have a plant growing in our garden we used. why do they have to be expensive to be good?
posted by andrew cooke at 4:48 AM on March 9, 2005

Response by poster: andrew, I don't think cheap is bad at all; I want cheap. I *also* want expensive. Price isn't the issue. I'm just not sure what are the real issues in herbal teas.

Here's another (related) question: in black (and green and white) tea, full leaf is better than less-than-full leaf, and loose is better than bagged. Is this also true for herbals? Is the stuff from the grocery store as good as mail-order (or home grown)? Are there gradations of mint|camomile|linden?
posted by terceiro at 5:00 AM on March 9, 2005

Yeah, I third the Yogi teas, too. Once I realized how good they are, I went crazy and bought about eight different kinds. It's all organic, many are caffeine-free, the flavors are incredible. My favorite is the ginger tea, which, like all their teas, has more than ginger in it: lemon grass, licrorice roote, peppermint leaf, and black pepper. I also like their yerba maté and the "Cold Season" tea, which has ginger, licorice root, eucalyptus, orange peel, valerian root, lemon grass, peppermint leaf, basil leaf, cardmom seed, oregano leaf, black pepper, clove bud, parsley leaf, yarrow flower, and cinnamon bark. None of the chais really do it for me, but the smell they give the cabinent where the tea things are stored is itself almost like a pleasant dose of tea.
posted by Mo Nickels at 8:10 AM on March 9, 2005

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