tea/infusions/tisanes - How hard is it to mix your own spice teas?
October 11, 2006 7:41 AM   Subscribe

tea/infusions/tisanes - How hard is it to mix your own spice teas?

Note, in common American English usage, tea refers to pretty much any leafy/herby mixture steeped in water. Some people use tea to mean only stuff made with leaves from the tea bush (Camellia sinensis) and everything else is a 'tisane' (or 'infusion' or 'herbal tea'). I tend to refer to everything as tea, and qualify black/green/white tea (for 'real' tea) and herbal tea (for everything else) as context requires.

A few years back I discovered that every time I failed to drink coffee for a couple of days, I had a nasty migraine-like hangover. It happened often enough that I let the withdrawal run its course, and chose to thereafter limit my caffeine intake. I was primarily drinking coffee (provided free) at work to overcome the excess air conditioning, so all I really needed was an alternate hot beverage. I don't like the taste of cheap-o free work coffee enough to drink it decaffeinated, and decaffeinated black tea tends to taste like stewed cardboard.

I quickly learned that you can only drink so much mint or chamomile tea (in fact, I don't even like chamomile that much. I only keep it around to pass to co-workers with upset stomachs.) I find I don't much like rooibos/redbush, but most other herbal teas are either bland or sour (sour's ok, but not on an empty stomach). I found a brand (Yogi Tea) with some flavors of the non-caffeinated category that I like, but my favorites tend to require a trip to a fancy supermarket. Recently, even the fancy supermarket didn't even have the varieties I was looking for. Sadly, I live in deep suburbia, so it's hard to find anything like a proper tea shop.

It occurred to me that the India Spice tea is basically the spices that go into spice chai, except without the black tea included. I already know how to make a ginger tea by pouring hot water over a little grated ginger root. We have spices all over the house (whole nutmeg, all that sort of thing). So, in theory, it shouldn't be too hard for me to either mix up a spice tea from scratch, or to doctor up something I already have that just needs a kick.

What spices are soluble, and how do you make them more soluble for these purposes? Are there tricks to figuring out the right proportions of spice-to-other-spices or spice-to-water? Should I just bite the bullet and try to find an affordable mail-order house?
posted by Karmakaze to Food & Drink (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Making your own tea is super, super simple. You can find recipes all over the net if you google 'spice tea recipe.'

One nice start with recipes is here:


If you're using whole spices, slight grinding or pounding helps release the essential oils for tea. If you're using fresh herbs, ditto the breaking/bruising of leaves. As a rule of thumb, you need approximately 1 teaspoon of your blend to 1 cup of boiling water for tea. You mix blends according to taste; the experimenting is half the fun.
posted by faineant at 8:39 AM on October 11, 2006


http://www.odie.org/chai/recipes.html

oops :)
posted by faineant at 8:45 AM on October 11, 2006 [1 favorite]


Making your own herbal tea is pretty darn simple. It helps if you have access to a place that sells bulk herbs, but these days most big grocery stores have an "organic" section with some such things. Experiment in small batches and you will come up with something you like.

One little caveat: I recommend picking up a little book on herbalism (don't spend more than $9, the kind of store that sells bulk organic herbs is apt to have just what you need), just to make sure you aren't accidentally mixing up something with undesirable side effects. I have a friend who once made a nice little mixture that was, um, suitable for curing constipation.
posted by ilsa at 9:19 AM on October 11, 2006


I've used this condensed milk chai concentrate recipe for several years. You can vary the spice ratios a bit, but you want about 3.5 to 4 teaspoons of total spice mixture per can of sweetened condensed milk.

After I let the mixture sit for 24 hours, I put it in the freezer in a tightly sealed mason jar and don't have to worry about it going bad in a week. It gets thick and gooey, but doesn't freeze. I mix a teaspoon of the stuff with strong black tea to make a pretty good chai.

The only caveat (from my dental hygenist) is that black tea and spices can stain your teeth over time. Like coffee, in fact. So brush fairly soon after drinking, or drink through a straw.
posted by Araucaria at 3:07 PM on October 11, 2006


Oh, and for chai, it doesn't matter whether the spices are soluble or not. They taste great :-).
posted by Araucaria at 3:23 PM on October 11, 2006


Cloves, cardamom, cinnamon bark would be excellent teas. Since many spices are oil-based, though, the fatty milk in chai is an effective and tasty way to diffuse the flavor nicely. Watch out for too much nutmeg, too!
posted by DenOfSizer at 3:58 PM on October 11, 2006


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