Monday, April 30, 2012

Varieties of Tisanes

Anise tea, made from either the seeds or the leaves.
Asiatic penny-wort leaf, in Southeast Asia
Artichoke tea.
Bee Balm
Boldo, used in South America
Cannabis tea, used in the preparation of Bhang
Caraway tea, made from the seeds
Catnip tea is used as a relaxant, sedative, and to calm
Chamomile tea is used as a sedative
Che Dang, very bitter tea made from Ilex causue leaves
Chinese knot-weed tea
Chrysanthemum tea, made from dried flowers, is popular with Chinese Dim sum

Coffee tea leaves and coffee cherry tea are herbal teas made using the leaves and cherries of the coffee plant; in coffee the coffee beans (seeds) are instead used.
Cerasse, a bitter Jamaican herb

Dried chamomile blossoms with bits of dried apple and cinnamon, to be used for tea
Citrus peel, including bergamot, lemon and orange peel
Dandelion coffee
Dill tea, often consumed to ease upset stomach
Echinacea tea
European Mistletoe (Viscum album), (steep in cold water for 2–6 hours)
Essiac tea, a blended herbal tea
Ginger root can be made into an herbal tea, known in the Philippines as salabat

Ginseng tea is a stimulant and can be used as a coffee substitute.
Ginseng, a popular tea in China and Korea
Goji, a popular and very simple to prepare tea
Hibiscus (often blended with rose hip), a popular tea alternative in the Middle East which is drunk hot or cold. Hibiscus tea is also consumed in Okinawa, where the natives associate Hibiscus tea with longevity.
Ho Yan Hor Herbal Tea, a herbal tea recipe formulated by Malaysian Chinese
Honeybush is related to rooibos and grows in a similar area of South Africa, but tastes slightly sweeter
Hydrangea tea, dried leaves of hydrangeas; considerable care must be taken because most species contain a toxin. The "safe" hydrangeas belong to the Hydrangea serrata Amacha ("sweet tea") Cultivar Group.

Jiaogulan, (also known as xiancao or poor man's ginseng)

Kapor tea, dried leaves of fireweed

Kava root, from the South Pacific, is popular for its effects in promoting talkativeness and relaxation

Kratom, dried leaves of the Kratom tree, drank for its medicinal and stimulant effects

Ku Ding tea, a bitter tisane found in Chinese herbal medicine

Kuzuyu, is a thick white Japanese tea made by adding arrowroot powder to hot water

Labrador tea, made from the shrub by the same name, found in the northern part of North America.
Lapacho (also known as Taheebo) is the inner-lining of the bark (or cambium) of the Red or Purple Lapacho Tree which grows in the Brazilian jungles. It is boiled to make an infusion with many and varied health benefits.

Lemon Balm
Lemon and ginger tea
Lemon grass
Luo han guo
Licorice root

Lime blossom, dried flowers of lime tree (Tilia in Latin).

Mate (or yerba mate) is a shrub grown mainly Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil from which a caffeinated, tea-like brew is prepared.

Mate de coca (sometimes called "coca tea"), made from coca leaves. Authentic mate de coca contains very small amounts of cocaine and similar alkaloids. In some countries where coca is illegal, products marketed as "coca tea" are supposed to be decocainized, i.e., the pharmacologically active components have been removed from the leaf using the same chemicals used in manufacturing cocaine.

Mint, especially peppermint (also mixed with green tea to make mint tea)

Mountain Tea, a very popular tea in the Balkans and other areas of the Mediterranean region. Made from a variety of the Sideritis syriaca plant which grows in warm climates above 3,000 feet. Records of its use date back 2,000 years.

Neem leaf
Nettle leaf
Noni tea
Oksusu cha (옥수수 차), traditional roasted corn tea found in Korea.
Pennyroyal leaf, an abortifacient
Pine tea, or tallstrunt, made from needles of pine trees is high in vitamins A and C
Qishr, Yemeni drink with coffee husks and ginger.
Red clover tea
Red raspberry leaf

Roasted barley tea, known in Japanese as mugicha and Korean as bori cha. The roasted flavor can be reminiscent of coffee (without coffee's bitterness and caffeine). It is often drunk cold in the summer.

Roasted wheat is used in Postum, a coffee substitute.

Rooibos (Red Bush) is a reddish plant used to make an infusion and grown in South Africa. In the US it is sometimes called red tea. It has many of the antioxidant benefits of green tea, but because it does not come from tea leaves, it has no caffeine.

Rose hip (often blended with hibiscus)

Roselle petals (species of Hibiscus; aka Bissap, Dah, etc.), consumed in the Sahel and elsewhere.

Sagebrush, California Sagebrush
Sakurayu is a Japanese herbal tea made with pickled cherry blossom petals.
Sassafras roots were steeped to make tea and were used in the flavoring of root beer until being banned by the FDA.
Scorched rice, known as hyeonmi cha in Korea
Serendib (tea), a tea from Sri Lanka

Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) leaves used to make a tea by some native peoples of eastern North America
Spruce tea, made from needles of spruce trees is high in vitamin C
Staghorn sumac fruit can made into a lemonade.
Stevia can be used to make herbal tea, or as a sweetener in other tisanes.
St. John's Wort can be used as a herbal anti-depressant.
Thyme Antiseptic, used in lysterine.
Tulsi, or Holy Basil, in English
Uncaria tomentosa, commonly known as Cat's Claw
Valerian Sedative.
Verbena (Vervains)

Wax gourd in East Asia and Southeast Asia.
Wong Lo Kat, a herbal tea recipe from Canton, China since Ching Dynasty
Yerba Mate Popular in South America. Scientific name Ilex paraguariensis.

Saturday, April 28, 2012


Etymologically the word 'tisane' originates from the Greek work - ptisanē πτισάνη. The drink was made from pearl barley. Liang Cha - Chinese: 涼茶; Mandarin Pinyin: liáng chá, is the Chinese word that means cooling tea. The concept comes out of TCM where the body is cooled down when it is overheated due to weather or sickness by drinking herbal mixtures.
Tisanes are herbal teas made from edible plants. The parts used are leaves, flowers, grains, berries, fruits, and rinds of fruits, stems, bark or roots. The plant material is made into an infusion or decocted or brewed. Tisanes are not caffeinated therefore is ideal for caffeine sensitive individuals or for a late night beverage. Tisanes are not made from the Camellia Sinensis. Although there are blends that use herbs with the Camellia Sinensis - however they are not classified as tisanes because it contains caffeine.

Tisanes are usually made hot but can be made into an ice cold beverage. They are usually used for therapeutic reasons but not limited to that category. Ideal for children as it is caffeine free and can be rather nice introduction and substitute for sodas and sugary drinks. Tisanes can be sweetened with honey although there are blends that are fruity and naturally sweet like Chamomile.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cha Dao Utensils: Cha Shao - Tea Scoop 茶勺

Cha Shao is literally translated as a tea ladle. Other translations mean teaspoon or tea scoop.
These spoons are not to be confused with cutlery. Cutlery or silverware or tableware are hand implements used in serving and preparing as well as for eating food. In the US cutlery is commonly known as silverware or flatware. Although, silverware or tableware is used when the actual cutlery is made of silver or has silver content in it. The original meaning of cutlery refers to knives or or cutting instruments. (The word cutler derives from the Middle English word 'cuteler' and this in turn derives from Old French 'coutelier' which comes from 'coutel'; meaning knife (modern French: couteau). Cutlery items usually consists of knives, forks, soup spoons, table spoons, teaspoons, demitasse spoons, fish knives, butter knives, ice tea spoons, dessert spoons, cake forks, salad forks and the containers that hold teaspoons are called spooners.
A teaspoon is usually a cutlery item used for stirring and sipping hot liquids like tea, coffee or coco. However they have been evolved to more utilitarian uses such as measuring dry and wet items.

With regards to tea scoops and tea spoons these are implements that are used to handle tea leaves from their containers into the brewing vessel. They vary in size and capacity. Some even double up as a presentation vessel for dried tea leaves.

The capacity of a tea scoop can vary between the size of a normal teaspoon and a table spoon. A teaspoonful is a unit of volume. During the 17th century tea was an expensive commodity and therefore the teacups and teaspoons were smaller. The measurement then was 1 teaspoon was about 1 fluid drahm or 1/8 fluid oz or 1/4 of a tablespoon. It was known as the Apothecaries measurement - known by the Latin cochleare minus (teaspoon) and the cochleare majis (tablespoon). However by the early 18th century the British East India Company began importing tea from China and the cost of tea declined and the unit of measurements for a teaspoon was 1/3 of a tablespoon. Tea began to move away from the Apothecaries measurement as the teacups and teaspoons for tea began to to get larger.

Tea scoops or tea spoons have become part of the Cha Dao implements and many are collectibles by the tea connaisseur. The unit of measurement today is as follows for dry volume: 

1/8 teaspoon = .5 ml =
1/4 teaspoon = 1 ml  =
1/2 teaspoon = 2 ml  = 
3/4 teaspoon = 4 ml  =
1 teaspoon = 5 ml  =
1 tablespoon = 15 ml = 
3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon = 1/2 oz = 14.3 grams
2 tablespoons = 1/8 cup = 1 oz = 28.3 grams
4 tablespoons = 1/4 cup = 2 oz = 56.7 grams

Abbreviations for teaspoons are tsps and tablespoons are tbsps. Ounces are oz and grams are g.

bamboo root scoop

Bat - handcarved

Cicada carved out of a hardwood

Dragon carved scoop

Dragon carved scoop.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Cha Dao Utensils: Tea Pick - Cha diao 茶针

Tea pick - an extremely useful tea tool that is essential to keep the spouts of your precious teapots clear of tea debris. This tool is usually used to pick out the pieces tea leaves that may have lodged itself in the spouts. Most well made teapots usually will have a ceramic component on the inside of the teapot to avoid tea leaves from passing through the spout. However, over time a build up of tea debris can occur on this ceramic netting. The pick is useful to keep the tiny holes clear and open. Essential that the cleaning is done after each use. Build up will harden and solidify. It is best done after each use and cleaning.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Cha Dao Utensils: Tea Pincers/Tongs/Tweezers - Cha Jia 茶夹 or 茶夾

An implement that has many uses other than what it was initially meant for - handling hot cups during the rinsing process with hot water, the warming process. This also keeps fingerprints off the cups that you are using for guests. It can also be used for assisting in removing spent tea leaves from a teapot.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Cha Dao Utensils: Tea Funnels - Cha lou 茶漏

This utensil is for channeling tea leaves into the teapot. This reduces spilling and waste of tea leaves. Also, it reduces the contact with fingers as oils and contaminants from the hand will change the the taste of the tea. 
The shape of this utensil is usually cylindrical to direct the flow of the tea leaves into the teapot and prevent overflowing. This is an item that eases the flow of movement during tea preparation and adds convenience.
There are also tea funnels that have 2 in 1 function - a presentation vessel and a funnel. This enables the tea leaves to be presented to the guests at the initial point of the brewing stage. The leaves are then directed into the teapot using the same implement.

Presentation vessel and funnel - 2 in 1

Used as a funnel over the teapot

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Cha Dao Utensils

These are tools part of the Gong Fu Tea setup. They are very basic in function and form but come in a variety of stylistic expressions of each individual tool. These sets usually come in 6  or 12 components.
The basic 6 components consist of the following:

  • Tea scoop - Cha Shao  茶勺 - a scoop or spoon used to deliver  a standard volume of tea leaves 
  • Tea scraper - Cha Zha chi 茶渣匙  - tea dregs scoop used to remove spent tea leaves from a teapot
  • Tea pick - Cha diao 茶针 - used to remove tea leaves that may have been lodge in the teapot spout
  • Tea funnel - Cha lou  茶漏 - for channeling the tea leaves into the teapot/ sometimes it has a straining capacity when a mesh is designed within the component
  • Tea Tongs/tea Tweezers - Cha Jia 茶夹 or 茶夾 - for handling hot teacups during the immersing process in a Shui Fang, used for manipulating cups, etc., in gongfu tea practice
  • Utensil Holder - the component that holds the other implements.
When the component consist of 12 it involves the 6 implements mentioned above and 6 saucers. The saucers are for the presentation of the teacup to the guest. Creates a complete way of proper serving method where the guest is honored.

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