Category Archives: tisane

Tisane Thursday: Fennel 9July2009

In the hills near where I grew up, the air is filled with the smell of the fennel which grows wild all over.  When I would walk with my grandfather, we would pick the tips and rub them between our hands and breathe in the smell.  I still pick fennel and smell it when I walk by.

Fennel seeds are used medicinally for ailments of the digestive tract.  Most notably to to treat gas, bloating, stomach pain and nausea.  Up to five cups of infusion a day can be used according to The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants by Chevallier and one cup of water needs about 1/2 tsp of seeds.

I was lucky enough to find a commercial source of fennel tisane to simplify all the measuring business.  Bloated or not… I think that this stuff is delicious, and if you like licorice, you might too!

Teekanne, the company which invented the flow-through tea bag, sells a very tasty boxed fennel tisane which I picked up at a neat shop in Berkeley, CA called  The Country Cheese and Coffee Market.

Fennel has a strong taste like anise or licorice and is probably not for everyone, but if you decide to try it, I hope you think it makes a great cuppa!

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growing peppermint

Since you all read the last post and found out how great peppermint can be for you, I bet you are wondering where you can turn to satisfy your voracious habit.  I am here to tell you that the solution is nigh because, in my experience, peppermint is an extremely easy plant to grow.  It’s basically a weed so anyone with space could easily end up with more than they could ever use.  If you ask around you could probably even find someone willing to pull some up out of their garden for you because it is taking over!

Peppermint should probably be planted in a container so that it doesn’t spread like crazy.  I also recommend putting it up off the ground so that lovely things like snails (ick!) don’t help themselves.  Mint should be grown in a place that is sunny and moist, but can be fine with only a few hours of sun a day.  If your mint is in a small container, you will probably need to take more care that the soil does not dry out than you will if it is in the ground.

I have peppermint plants myself (I got them by uprooting someone else’s nuisance) and find them perfect for tisane, garnish, a tasty snack… or the occasional mojito!

Here’s to your first cuppa of home-grown mint.

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Filed under gardening, herbal infusion, herbal tea, medicinal, tea, tisane

Tisane Thursday: Mint 25June2009

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.

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