Tisanes — you may have heard the term before, but what does it mean? Tisanes are more commonly known as “herbal teas” in the U.S., and they consist of any edible or medicinal plant — except the actual tea plant, Camellia sinensis — or spice that is infused in water and drunk as a beverage. Roses, violets, chamomile and lavender flowers are edible — if grown without pesticides and chemical fertilizers — and can be used to flavor and garnish desserts and other foods, and they can also be made into delicious beverages. Tisane ingredients can also include naturally caffeine-free items like mint, hibiscus, or rooibos, as well as naturally caffeinated herbs like yerba mate and guarana.
To make your floral tisane:
— bring 2 cups of fresh water to the boil.
— gather and wash a full handful of edible flowers, making sure that any dust or insects are gone.
— pat the blossoms dry, gently, between paper towels.
— remove the petals from the stamen, pistel and stem of each flower. Discard all but the petals.
— warm your teapot by swishing hot tap water around inside until you can feel the heat through the teapot, then pouring the hot water out.
— place the flower petals inside the teapot and pour the boiling water over them.
— allow to steep for 5 minutes, then strain.
— add a bit of sugar or a slice of lemon, if desired, and enjoy! Your tisane will be softly scented and flavored with the perfume of the flower petals, and should be light and fresh-tasting.
Make sure that your flower petals are not only from an edible variety, but that they are free from chemicals like fertilizers, pesticides, weed-killers, or traffic fumes. Flowers from a traditional florist shop or the floral department in a grocery store – unless specifically identified to be organic and food-safe – are not suitable. Safeway in Milpitas is one of a few grocery stores that carries small packages of food-grade flowers, in the refrigerated fresh herb section of the produce department. These packages have rose petals mixed in with violet, pansy, and marigold petals, which are also edible.
The best way to get edible flowers is to grow them organically, yourself, or get them from a friend who grows them. If you don’t have an organic flower garden, and you don’t know an organic gardener, you can ask the vegetable and flower vendors at the farmer’s market if they can get edible flowers for you. The vegetable vendors at my favorite farmer’s market – at San Pedro Square in downtown San Jose – have told me that they can get edible fresh marigolds, pansies, rose petals and nasturtiums, if they are ordered in advance. You can also order food-grade fresh and dried flowers online, and find dried edible flowers at some gourmet and organic food shops, and sometimes (like chamomile) at the local Asian grocery store! Dried food-grade flowers are a good thing to keep in the tea party pantry, also!
Copyright 2014, Elizabeth Urbach.
For more information:
“What should I keep in the pantry for tea parties?”
“Tea and the mold-free diet”
“Review: Vital Tea Leaf Angel green tea and Siberian Rose tisane”
“Tea-table recipe: rose-petal jam desserts”
“What you need to make a good pot of hot tea”
“Tea 101: How to brew a pot of hot tea using loose tea”
“Enjoy San Jose’s warm weather with a floral tea menu”
“Shrewsbury Cakes: a Regency recipe to eat with tea in San Jose”
“A floral tea menu for a beautiful day”
“Homemade Herbal Teas”
“How to choose edible flowers”
“How to make violet tea”
“Improve health with calendula tea”
“Homemade chamomile tea”