I really enjoy a soothing, fragrant cup of hot tea, especially in the winter, but I’ve been trying to cut down on caffeine, so I’m exploring the world of tea-less teas (any beverages not made with Camellia sinensis, the only true tea plant). All the different tea varieties, including black, green, white, oolong, chai, and jasmine, are the result of different ways of processing, harvesting, or flavoring that one plant. Herbal “teas,” like this berry tisane, are water extracts of various parts of other plants.
Herbal Teas, an alternative to caffeine
They may be called tisanes, infusions, or decoctions. They have no caffeine and according to the nutrition labels on commercial blends, they don’t have carbs, sugar, calories, protein, or fat either, although they have a long history dating back to ancient times as a source for invigorating and rejuvenating elements like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, including polyphenols, flavonoids, and catechins. Making a berry tisane (pronounced tea-zahn) is a way to get many of the health benefits of dark purple and red berries without the calories, sugar, and carbs in the whole fruit.
To make a tisane, boiling water is poured over soft plant matter (flowers, leaves, needles, fruit, etc.) and allowed to steep for a few minutes. To make a decoction, harder plant parts, like bark, roots, stems, seeds, and dried berries, are boiled in water for a longer time, perhaps up to 45 minutes, in order to extract more flavor and essential oils. Herbalists may take it a step further and make a tincture by dissolving the plant matter in a solvent, such as alcohol, vinegar, or glycerin. Tinctures are usually intended for medicinal purposes rather than taste or enjoyment, so that is another subject altogether.
MIXED BERRY TISANE
I used frozen and thawed berries to make my mixed berry tisane. Fresh berries would work as well when they are available. The inspiration for this recipe came from a berry tea offered on the menu at a local Thai restaurant; they served it in a French press coffee maker, so no straining required. (Clever, no?) The waiter said to let it sit for a few minutes before pushing the plunger. He also offered to refill it for me with more boiling water to make an additional 2 cups from the original mixture, which I have continued to do at home with no obvious loss of strength or flavor.
70 grams (½ cup) of fresh or frozen and defrosted berries* (Weighing is more accurate than measuring.)
2 cups of boiling water
Sweetener of choice to taste, optional
Add a mint leaf or two, if desired, and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.
Place berries in a French press coffee maker. Pour boiling water into pot, replace the top, and allow to steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Depress the plunger and pour the clear liquid into 2 cups. You can reuse the berries to make a second batch of tisane by adding an additional 2 cups of boiling water to make a total of 4 cups.
*I used a mixture of raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries, a combination that is available frozen from most grocery stores.
Commercial herbal teas list a count of zero for all the macronutrients after brewing and straining: no carbs, no fat, no protein, no sugar, no fiber. The nutrition data bases agree that herbal teas are calorie- and carb-free. When I measured the juice released from ½ cup of berries, it amounted to about ⅛ cup. That’s not much, but not nothing. I consulted with a doctor whose focus is on “keeping patients healthy through diet, lifestyle, nutritional, and botanical support.” I asked if tea made from berries could really contain zero carbs. She said it may contain a “trace of sugar, but it is very low.” I will count the macros in 1 tablespoon of berry juice per serving as a maximum and punt the question back to you; if you regularly check your blood sugar, could you verify this for us? Caveat: If you are diabetic, be careful until you see how you react.
Per each 1 of 2 servings of Berry Tisane: (If you make an additional 2 servings from the same berries, the counts should be less, but I have no idea how to compute the amount per batch.)
Calories: 6.3; Fat: 0g; Carbs: 1.4g; Fiber: 0.02; Net Carbs: 1.38g; Protein: 0g; RAE (retinol activity equivalent): 0.3 mcgs
Don’t have a French press? Use a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula to press the berries through a sieve.
Never use an aluminum vessel to prepare a tisane as it may react with some herbs or plants to produce a toxic beverage.
For more info: How to Make Blueberry Tea From Fresh Berries (leaf.tv)
Cheers! Here’s to better days ahead.
I am not affiliated with any company and have not received free products.
I am not a doctor and cannot give medical advice. If you believe you have a health problem, please consult a medical practitioner.
(c) 2021, Judy Barnes Baker