Hello readers! We’re trying a new regular topic: tisanes or herbal infusions or herbal tea… depending on where you’re from.
Don’t get me wrong, I love tea… and the stronger the better! However, if you’re anything like me, you don’t make it home until later in the evening and you hesitate to drink a caffeinated beverage as you wind down and get ready for bed. I have accumulated a hefty supply of different tisanes over the years and I have really enjoyed many. I would love to share some with you by way of another interest of mine, medicinal plants. Keep in mind, however, that I am not a professional herbalist and I am never giving medical advice. My goal is to let you know how good that tisane you’ve enjoyed for years is for you!
For starters: peppermint!
Peppermint has been around for at least three thousand years, and was used by Egyptians, Greeks and Romans prior to becoming popular in Europe in the 1700’s. Medicinally, peppermint is used to treat gas, bloating and colic but peppermint can also be effective in other ways. The next time you reach for your Bengay, IcyHot or Vick’s Vaporub, I hope you remember that menthol, which has a cooling, anesthetic affect on the skin, makes up a major part of peppermint. Other mints such as spearmint are related to peppermint and have similar, though milder, medicinal properties.
For digestion, an herbalist might prescribe peppermint to be taken as an infusion several times a day. Dried or fresh peppermint can make a nice tisane, and in general more fresh than dried is needed for a given volume of water. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants by Chevallier recommends 1 tsp dry or 2 tsp fresh per cup, but peppermint tisane can be made to your taste. I have a friend who shoves as much fresh mint as will fit into a teapot to make her tisane. I find a slight difference between the taste of tisane from fresh vs. dried peppermint, but both are satisfying.
Many blends that include peppermint (and other mints) are available commercially and quite enjoyable. My favorite Celestial Seasonings tea blend contains decaffeinated green tea, peppermint and just a touch of some other herbs. It is perfect for an evening drink and hits the spot when I have a cold. It is called Candy Cane Lane and although only available seasonally in the grocery store, I was able to pick some up on my recent trip to the factory in Boulder, CO.
The flavor comes mostly from the peppermint (my palate has trouble distinguishing the flavor from the green tea) but the blend has much less of what I would call “raw plant” flavor than straight peppermint. I also find the finish to be much smoother than straight peppermint, which can have a delicious, but strong, flavor as you swallow.
However you drink your peppermint, it makes quite a satisfying cuppa.