There’s a bouquet in your teapot, with teas having flowers added in (explored in Part I). Then, there are infusions made entirely of flowers. They bring fragrances, exotic tastes, and health benefits to your teatime — oops…I mean “infusion time.”
There’s a lot of information online about the health benefits of floral infusions, also called “tisanes” (and also misnamed “teas” by many vendors trying to cash in on tea’s growing popularity). One of the key benefits that most have in common is the lack of caffeine.
Keep in mind when steeping an infusion, or even when steeping a tea containing a lot of floral or herbal matter, that it’s best to use boiling water and give it more time (usually between 4 and 8 minutes) to fully steep. Also, many of these infusions cannot take milk. It curdles or otherwise interacts with the ingredients in a not-so-good way (have experienced this first hand).
Some popular floral infusions:
- Roses — Infusions made of rosebuds, rose petals, and rose hips, each having its own qualities, have been around for quite awhile. Health claims include balancing hormones, laxative effects, and antidepressant qualities. Full of vitamin C, rose petals and hips are good for relieving congestion, improving digestion, and protecting against toxins. Unfortunately, some people get heartburn from drinking these infusions. Try: Rosebud Infusion (made from red roses, with the aroma of roses and a gentle sweet taste).
Chamomile —One of the most popular flowers in your teapot and beneficial. The list of conditions it relieves is long: toothaches, nervousness, muscle spasms, headaches, insomnia, etc. If you have hayfever, though, check with your physician before imbibing. Sweeten with sugar or honey, but avoid adding milk. You could also add lemon, lime, cinnamon, or other enhancers. Try: Egyptian Chamomile Caffeine Free Herbal Tea, Harney & Sons Historic Royal Palace Herbal Chamomile Tea (with a hint of green apples), Revolution Tea Golden Chamomile (peppermint leaves and fresh flowers), and Taylors of Harrogate Chamomile (soothing, naturally caffeine-free, delicate aroma, pure flavor).
- Lavender: Becoming increasingly popular, especially French lavender from Provence with its particularly attractive floral scent and taste, it soothes nerves, relieves migraines, helps digestion and respiratory problems, and acts as a local anesthetic. Many say it’s calming and relieves headaches, tension, insomnia, and stress. Try: Lavender Herbal (floral flavor with a strong yet pleasant aroma).
- Jasmine: Often added to teas, especially green tea, but can also be made into an infusion on its own that protects you against high cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Also destroys bacteria like e-coli (responsible for food poisoning), relieves stress, and calms panicky feelings.
- Chrysanthemum: Tricky to spell but refreshing in flavor and popular in warmer weather. Steep the dried petals in hot water and add sugar or honey for a taste treat. It’s also a healthy drink, good for circulation, reducing fever, improving vision, and more.
- Hibiscus: A daily cup can help reduce high blood pressure and is caffeine free. It is drunk in many countries around the world and is included as filler in cheaper tisanes in the U.S. and Britain.
Mostly Floral Blends:Often, a floral infusion will be a blend of several of the above and other ingredients (not to be confused with actual teas made from Camellia Sinensis and mixed with flowers, fruits, spices, etc., as described in Part I). These blends also combine the health benefits of the various flowers used. Try: Tutti Fruity (caffeine-free, great for children hot or cold, naturally sweet from fructose; contains Hibiscus petals, rosehip chips and dried rose petals, calendula petals, cornflower petals, dried apple pieces and sweet orange peel, raisins, dried currants, and natural flavors).
That should get you started. Try each one chilled as well as hot. Feel free to experiment with enhancers (citrus, sweeteners) but avoid milk. Enjoy!
Don’t miss Part III, Teas with Floral Aroma and Flavor.
This party isn’t over yet, folks; stay tuned for Part III of A.C.’s “Bouquet in Your Teapot” series. And while you’re waiting, make sure to check out A.C.’s blog, Tea Time with A.C. Cargill!