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Immortal Musings

Tisane vs Tea

by Ralph Kenney

August 20, 2014










I get a lot of email and phone calls asking about tisane teas. Something like, “Is Jiaogulan a green tea?” and I have to answer, “Well, technically, Jiaogulan is not a tea.” The confusion is very understandable and the source of the confusion goes way back to about 1610.

You see, in Chinese the word “te” means any infusion made with herbs and water. The particular infusion made with what we now call the tea plant (aka the Chinese camellia) is called “Cha.” However, when Dutch traders first asked something like, “What do you call this tasty beverage?” The answer was the generic term for any infusion, “te”.

Happily confused, the Dutch returned to introduce Europeans to this new wonderful drink from the mysterious East, called Tea.

In English its pretty simple. Tea is a drink made from a particular plant, the Chinese camellia. Any other drink made from another plant is technically called a tisane. So, a drink made with Jiaogulan or White Mulberry is a tisane. But our Oolong is a tea.

Coming up soon, what’s the difference between white tea, green tea, black tea and Oolong?

As always, would love to hear you thoughts, so hit that “Submit Comment” button now while you’re thinking about it and let me know what you think or any questions you might have.

1 comment

  • I made this yesterday and my house smelled wonderful. Thank you Sarah. I think I will leave out the licorice next time as it has too much flavor. It almost doesn’t taste like green tea anymore in my opinion.

    California Tea House on

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