Homemade Tisane Recipe

Homemade Tisane

[Homemade Tisane]

Sometimes it worries me how much herbal tea I drink.

You see, I love coffee, I adore tea, and nothing warms my heart and my quill like having a hot mug within mitten’s reach. But as I get older*, it seems I can’t drink caffeine like I used to could**.

Maxence and I share a pot of light-brewed American-style coffee — also known to the French as jus de chaussette — over the course of the morning, and I’ll have the occasional espresso after lunch, or I might steep myself a cup of tea at some point in mid-afternoon. But the rest of the time, if I want the “off” button in my brain to function when I go to bed, I must turn my affections to other beverages — namely, herbal teas.

I know, I know, herbal tea can be frightfully boring, and just uttering the words — whether you say “herbal tea,” or “tisane,” or “infusion” — can make you feel about a hundred years old.

However, I have found that, just like vitamins can be added back to nutrient-stripped processed foods, the fun can be added back to the tisane by the simple process of mixing your own blend — think of it as designing your own fragrance, yes?

I buy my ingredients in bulk from specialty stores (see Paris sources below), combine them to suit my taste, and keep my custom-made tisane in a tea canister, in which it barely has time to settle before it’s time to mix some more.

These days, my basic formula is as follows:

– 3 parts dried hibiscus,
– 2 parts dried rose petals,
– 1 part dried orange rind***, snipped into small pieces.

It makes a delightful ruby-red iced tea in the summer, and would work well as a granita, too, as this week’s ELLE suggests.

Depending on my mood, I’ll add:
– dried peppermint leaves,
– dried lavender buds (they have a soothing effect),
– dried thyme (particularly if I feel a cold coming on),
– dried cacao bean husks (bought at the Salon du Chocolat last year, and I’ve never found anything similar since, so I’m making a very prudent use of these).

Try it sometime, and once you’ve experimented and designed your signature blend, would it not make the perfect homemade gift for your friends, especially the ones who own fluffy slippers and a matching cat?

* I love that phrase; it makes me feel like such a grown-up.
** Please watch Dead Man at your earliest convenience.
*** I buy it pre-dried, but I plan to try and dry my own soon using this technique. Update. Following my mother’s suggestion in the comments below, I tried letting the rind of an (organic) orange dry out for a few days on a plate placed in a warm spot in my apartment. It works beautifully!


Paris sources for tisane ingredients in bulk:

L’Herboristerie du Palais Royal / map it!
11 rue des Petits Champs, 75001 Paris
01 42 97 54 68

La Graineterie du Marché / map it!
8 place d’Aligre, 75012 Paris
01 43 43 22 64

Le Comptoir Colonial / map it!
22 rue Lepic, 75018 Paris
01 42 58 44 84

  • mmmm sounds lovely!
    I also love the idea of giving it as presents to friends!

  • That’s a perfect post for people still clinging onto the idea that they are going to make their christmas gifts this year!

  • Very nice! My mum gowns her own mint, lavanda, thyme… I’ll use those! Thanks for great idea for upcoming gift season!

  • Simply fabulous. It is a lovely idea and one I hope to remember when I’m standing in the store saying… why don’t they have this kind of tea?

  • Wow, dried cocoa bean husks? What do they taste like? I imagine they’d add a really earthy flavour to the mix.

  • Therese

    I’ve also been unable to handle caffeine lately (I blame it to a lack of access to chicory) and have been drinking more flower tea than anything. Whilst living in Shanghai, there was a particular stand that I would visit weekly for new herbal ingredients. Sadly, they aren’t as varied as those in Europe or North America.

    I think that red bush (rooibos?) is always a good addition (I enjoy red bush + dried lemon slices + dried wolfberries, but red bush is good with anything).

  • Pour faire des écorces d’orange séchées, il suffit de les laisser à l’air libre et d’attendre quelques jours…

  • Diane

    I love my coffee, but can’t drink much of it – just my little moka pot in the AM and that’s it.

    My favorite tisane is one I stole from Chez Panisse – with fresh hrbs – mint and lemon verbena from my garden. Lovely. I also do a winter brew to fight off colds and warm the body with fresh ginger, peppercorns and jaggery (Indian brown sugar) .

  • What a nice idea. Such fun to make your own. I have some tea sent to me from China which turns into a beautiful flower when hot water is poured over it. Here is a photo.

  • rainey

    jus de chaussette?

    This reminds me that when I lived in an old French farmhouse just out of college we made our coffee over a propane camp stove by putting chickory-laced ground coffee in a knit sack that looked like the elongated toe portion of a sock held open with a large metal doughnut sort of contraption. The coffee held in place at the top of a tall pot, we poured the hot water in drip-style.

    Does this have anything to do with jus de chaussette? Is this American style? How does that differ from more French preparation.

    I also remember we had it by the huge bowlful poured simultaneously with coffee in one hand and milk in the other. The coffee was good but the pleasure of holding the warm bowl with both hands in the morning in a heat-free house was delerious.

  • marie

    I love mixing my own tea.. at the moment it’s been green tea and fresh lavender…miam miam! I have tried to copy a green tea from mariage freres, no luck so far.. but i’ll keep trying!

  • yourpapounet

    Rainey: from what I recall, the origin of the expression “jus de chaussette” for weak and insipid coffee is as follows:
    using a sock full of ground coffee as a sort of Melita filter (which is what I personally prefer…) is an ancient method (well, at least as old as socks and coffee, whichever came last…). But during WWII, under the German occupation, real coffee was a rare commodity in France, so the same ground coffee was used time and again, until what came out was… “jus de chaussette”!

    It would be quite unfair to compare American coffee with this brownish trickle, but let’s face it : compared to the usual “expresso” found in France, not to mention the deadly concentrated essence of a real Italian “espresso”, American coffee has no more taste than coloured water… no offense meant !

  • Are the cacao bean husks the same as nibs?

    This is a great idea – I’m the same way, and I live on tea (non-caf) after my morning latte. For caffeinated tea, I love Traditional Medicinal’s Roasted Hojicha – I think I’ll experiment with adding bits to bulk Hojicha.

    I made two of your recipes for the holiday over here this week – the Hazelnut Matchsticks, which were so good I was devastated when I ate the last one, and the chocolate tart, which I’ve had to hide from my children. Both excellent recipes, so thank you!

  • vespabelle

    We used to make a similar tissane with hibiscus, chamomille and rose hips (which are packed full of vitamin C.)

    Another non-caffinated “tea” that’s good for winter is Barley tea. It’s simply boiled and steeped roasted barley. You can find the roasted barley in bags in Asian markets.

  • i’m in love with whittard’s chocolate chai: it’s made with cocoa beans, chicory, ginger, clover, dried coconut and pink peppergrains and it’s so spicy and velvety.
    there’s no tea in it but i wouldn’t call it herbal tea, it is too tasty!

  • Cocao husks! That really does dound lovely, I’m curious to try something like that! There is a lovely tea (loose) shop in my neighborhood in Seattle, and they’ll let you do custom mixes…maybe I should hit them up!

  • sueyoung

    I love coffee. Yes, even the American stuff. But I can’t seem to handle caffeine after the noon hour and find myself drinking more and more herbal teas. These days I drink green tea with lemon grass, ginger with peppermint, or barley. (p.s. I’m 30 and a proud tea drinker!)

  • Hello, love your blog, but Hibiscus that you refer must be Hibiscus sbdariffa or Roselle and you can find it here.

  • Sinda – No, cacao bean husks aren’t the same as nibs, which are bits of the bean itself. These are fragments of the thin husk the bean was in. They have a strong cocoa flavor, too, but couldn’t be added to baked goods because their texture isn’t as pleasant as that of the nibs. And thanks for reporting back on the recipes, I’m pleased they turned out to your liking!

    Fátima – Thank you for the correction. I’ve updated the link.

  • What a wonderful idea, and a great way yo play with flavor and fragrance combinations to suit your mood. Now to find sources for these dried ingredients…

  • I’ve been drinking fruit and herbal infusions since I did my A-levels at 17 years old – they’re not just for the old [though the fluffy slippers and cat to match are exactly my cup of tea, so perhaps I’m just old before my time!]. I was stressed out and insomniac so I cut caffeine out completely. Now I’m working I have developed a deep-rooted caffeine dependency, and correspondingly poor sleep patterns. I’ve been thinking that I should get back in to the herbal tea groove – I think this is the encouragement I needed. I’m off to make some lemon and ginger right now!

  • Annie

    Hi Clotilde,
    I totally understand your love of hot beverages. I am from Canada and a true believer of a hot drink to warm your soul when the weather is wet and freezing cold. And like you, too much caffeine can irritate my stomach and affect my sleep.

    So I found an alternative, I am not sure if you are a fan of soya milk but a childhood favourite of mine is hot soya drink that my grandma used to make. It’s quite simple, it just takes a lot of effort. You soak cleaned soy beans for the night (approx. 12 hrs). Then grind the beans and water into a pulp. Sieve the mixture through a cheese cloth and ta dah…soy juice. Heat the juice in a pot until it boils, keep it boiled for a few minutes (5-10 min)

    You can flavour your milk with sugar or leave it as is. Another classic is savoury hot soya drink where you can season the drink with salt and sesame oil and garnish with chopped green onions. It might sound strange but it tastes pretty damn good, you gotta try it. You can keep it for about a week and reheat it before you drink it. And if you feel daring, reheat the sweetened version and garnish à la savoury before you drink. I am sure you will be able to find a more detailed recipe online.

    Hope you like it,

  • rebekka

    Oh my that sounds lovely! I must try! Do you ever get into the medicinal side of it? Medicinal sounds terrible, but…you know…herbal remedies. Sometimes I drink Valerian for anxiety or restlessness at night or St. John’s for general malaise…


  • spee

    This is so beautiful! I (a coffee drinker) got so inspired by this that I promptly went out and bought some great teas (from teavana). Unfortunately, it is quite expensive and I would appreciate if someone can tell me where I can buy bulk tea and other herbs (in San Francisco Bay Area) so that I can make the delicious version that dear Clotilde has made.

  • rainey

    Thanks for the explanation, yourpapounet.

    So it’s less the method than the source from whence the flavor derives. ;> Good humor for a hard time!

    I lived outside Paris and south of Normandy in ’71. Although I never heard that expression, even then, the residual feelings about the occupation were strong among the older generation 25 years later and American graves dotted the landscape.

    Merci bien for making a piece of my own history a little more clear.

  • Amy

    Sock juice! LOL. Biggest laugh of the day – thanks!

  • Mandy

    Ooh, I’d love to get my hands on some cocoa pods. One of my absolute *favorite* teas is Yogi cocoa spice–a cocoa pod-based herbal.

    When I was in Norway this summer, I got a tisane of cornflowers and some little yellow buds (no luck with babelfish–“kronblad av ringblomst og kornblomst”). I’d love to be able to buy cornflowers in bulk, to sprinkle over hypothetical cakes and such (well, if I ever *did* entertain, the gorgeous blue blossoms would be a truly showstopping garnish!).

    Cakespy– What shop do you go to? I’m in the U-district, but feed my rooibos obsession at Market Spice down at Pike Place whenever I get the chance.

  • I love this idea! I’d never thought about making my own, but I’m definitely going to have to try. I used to buy bulk tea in law school, but lately I’ve been buying the packets just for simplicity. Making my own sounds like fun though. :-)

  • C’est tout à fait de saison en plus!

  • OMGosh I love love all these great recipes for tea I can’t wait to try them all!!

  • Did you ever tried green tea with litle rosebud? It is very pleasant and fragrant. I just love it!
    But, I must try your recipe.
    Thank you.

  • Ugh, herbal tisanes are so boring to me, but I also have caffeine issues. . . so here’s what I do.

    I decaffeinate my black tea by steeping once for 30 seconds to a minute (whole leaves can take a minute), dumping the first water, then adding fresh hot water and steeping for a little bit longer than normal (you’ll have to play with it to get the flavor you like). Green teas, oolongs and pu-erh respond well to multiple steepings, and some stronger blacks can handle it.

    The caffeine is the first thing to steep out from the leaf, so you don’t have to steep it for long. Of course, your decaf tea will not be completely decaf, but it will be significantly less caffeinated.

    This is how I still manage to enjoy many of my favorite black teas (like pu-erh, which is the coffee of tea!) with little to no caffeine discomfort.

    Also, if you like the full body of coffee and black tea, try honeybush. It’s a relative of rooibos, but much more flavorful, in my opinion, and with more body and mouthfeel.

  • Ohh, that would be a perfect gift for the girliest of my friends. Or maybe I just love the idea of tea with lavender and rose petals…

    Or maybe I’ll just keep it for myself, as I’m one of the girliest of my friends:)

    Brilliant to offer up tea!

  • c

    ah yes i was going to suggest that for drying the orange rind! no need to run the oven on low for so long. my family buys bunches of tangerines and as we go through the fruit we carefully scrub the rind before peeling and let it dry out in a wicker basket someplace near a window. the neat thing is that tangerines/mandarins have thin skin and little pith attached. it also dries in quite a pretty little flower shape due to the way we peel the fruit. my own favorite kind of herbal tea combines the peel with peppercorns and a little cinnamon.

    my family also likes to dry the thin peel of persimmons the same way for tea! it’s a typical use of all the persimmon for koreans. the dried persimmon peel is also tasty by itself for a little snack. use when completely dried and slightly brittle.

  • lisa

    This is a brilliant and inspiring post, I love the ideas here. Thank you Clotilde!!!

  • I too love mixing my own tea, so this is perfect for me.

  • That sounds lovely. And a great gift idea. My favorite pre-made herbal tea right now is a ginger-lemon mix. I’d love to try and create it on my own. Cheers.

  • Erin

    When working in the bakery cafe at the culinary school I attend, we have both coffee and tea tastings. Tisanes certainly don’t have to be for wimps (or the elderly)…but I love the idea of beefing them up a bit. I might have to suggest it for the tasting!!

  • I know how you feel. I used to be able to have coffee at 10pm and still fall asleep and now one cup in the morning and I’m doing laps around my office.

  • hey wow i do the same thing–i dont make my own tea or anything–but i cant function in my house without a cup of tea. I draw the line at 4 cups of caffeine a day—after that its all herbals. Hehe.

    happy holiday season–i dunno if you remember me (awkward little American at your Blog’s birthday party) but i’m starting to really love Paris as it’s getting really chilly.

  • Seema

    The tisane sounds lovely, in deed.
    I love reading/hearing about food in french – and enjoy your blog. :)
    Just a little comment to Mandy, as I was so pleased and amused that someone discovered new wonderful teas in Norway. (I am from Norway, but am living in France). “Ringblomst” is a very “common” flower, with the latin name of Calendula officinalis. Have a look at this site (you might recognize the flower?).

    I love to add lavendar to my tisanes, but have wondered whether it’s safe to use the lavender that you can buy in packets in lots of different shops in the south of France?

  • Sounds wonderful and how unique…Rose tea with honey and a touch of lavender on lonely days, perhaps…Mandarin oranges on a day when you’re full of zip…

  • Rhonda

    I love what coffee does to me and its the best part of my day. I always worry about drinking some herbal teas because of their health and alergy risks. One thing us caffiene users can try is herbal infused black teas.

  • Hibiscus iced tea is my favorite so that hibiscus rose concoction sounds magnificent to me!! Mmmm how I love tea…

  • John-Christopher Ward

    American coffee refers to the roast, a very light one, and to the amount of grounds per cup, a modest amount. The darker the roast, the less caffeine. In New Orleans, we drink dark roasted (French Roast) coffee mixed with 15 to 30 % roasted chicory, resulting in a very low caffeine brew.

  • Mandy

    Thanks, Seema! I now know that my bag of bright Norwegian petals is cornflower and marigold!

    I also encountered a number of tisanes fron Nordgard Aukrust, near beautiful Jotunheimen. Sadly, the farm/garden wasn’t open when we were in the area, but I made my boyfriend go hunting for the products in the grocery store.

    It’s quite cold and rainy here in Seattle–I need a nice hot mug of tea!

  • Alexandra

    In case you can’t find your dried cocoa husks – try The Spice House.

    They sell cocoa nibs which are pieces of crushed cocoa beans. I think they’ll ship anywhere. They have great stuff at reasonable prices (not factoring in shipping costs to France.) The catalog and spice descriptions are a lot of fun to read. They also have some fantastic recipes.

    The cocoa nibs are great to bake with but also fun to nibble on “as is.” I’ve also put them in hot chocolate for a crunchy surprise at the bottom.

  • Dead Man is such a great film! I am so happy someone else besides me has seen it. Thank you y muchas gracias!

  • Lavendar buds…I’ll go nip some off in my garden right now…lovely idea.
    And thanks Clotilde’s papa for the fascinating insight on sock coffee during the Occupation.

  • I just had to comment about not being able to drink caffeine like I used too.. For health reasons I have had to quit and I have been miserable.

    That said this definitely looks worth trying!

  • Anon

    Fresh basil works wonders too.

  • M.

    A long-time lurker (I love your blog!) coming out of lurking to say: I also share your love of herbal teas, and have done since I was quite young. Like you, I’m less-than-impressed with most commercial mixes.

    Anyway, I wanted to suggest that you try *spearmint* instead of *peppermint* – it’s a slightly sweeter leaf, and more importantly, I think it holds the minty taste better than peppermint does. In one gorgeous cafe in Melbourne, I once had it in a spearmint-raspberry blend (it was listed as raspberry, but it tasted like raspberry *leaf*, not actual raspberry – it was a very good combination).

    Anyway, spearmint can be difficult to get hold of, but well worth the effort!

    In summer, I like to make infusions from fresh herbs. One of my favourite blends is mint and rosemary.

  • Lisa

    As someone who has also become sensitive to caffeine with age, I appreciate all these great suggested alternatives to coffee! One tip: a 6 oz. cup of brewed coffee has more than twice the caffeine than an espresso, despite the latter’s stronger flavor. (There is a fascinating article on caffeine in National Geographic, Jan 2005.)

    In any case, I’m interested in the Chocolate Chai. Is it to be found in Paris? Thanks!

  • Lisa – I believe chocolate chai is available from Whittard’s in the UK: here’s a link to the product page. Very tempting indeed!

  • for Lisa: I bought Whittard’s chocolate chai in Paris, at Lafayette Gourmet.

  • Aiyana

    Oh, I adore herbal teas– caffeine has an unpleasant effect on me, though I can handle black tea in moderation, and chocolate drinks (thank goodness!).

    I do tend to stick with the commercial blends– there is such an amazing variety!– and have recently become a fan of Thai Tea, which is quite popular here in San Diego.

    I did want to share one of my mother’s recipes, though. She made this for me whenever I got a cold, and it works wonders. I like to leave the ingredients loose in the cup and eat them along with the tea, but you could just as easily confine the solid ones in a tea ball.

    Combine in a cup of steaming water:

    -1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed or minced (depending on your tolerance for the flavor!)
    -1 tsp grated ginger root
    -the juice and pulp of half a lemon.
    -at least 1 TBS honey

    Trust me, if you need your sinuses cleared or a sore throat soothed, this will do the trick!

  • Acme

    I just discovered hibiscus…I am making hibiscus vanilla ginger syrup as I type this. The addition of dried orange rind sounds lovely. My next experiment will be making some sort of jello; I’m sure the color and taste will be wonderfull!

  • Thanks, Seema! I now know that my bag of bright Norwegian petals is cornflower and marigold!

  • Paola Soto

    I’m new to tea blending and I already love it! Your blend sounds simple and delicious, I just have a question, how long should I leave the blend in hot water? 5min? thank youu!

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