Tisane Tea

6 tisane teas on a white tabletop

Tisane tea is made from various plants which gives them powerful medicinal properties and health benefits. 

Each type of tisane tea has unique benefits and healing capabilities depending on the plants that it’s made from. 

Understanding the properties of each tisane tea can help you decide which type is best for you based on the health conditions you have or symptoms you’re looking to improve. 

Below you’ll discover the difference between tisanes and tea (spoiler alert: tisane isn’t truly “tea!”), and the powerful benefits of fruit tisanes and herbal tisanes.

Let’s dive in!

What is Tisane Tea?

Tisane tea is a caffeine-free blend of herbs, flowers, and other plant compounds. The actual definition of tisane is “an infusion (as of dried herbs) used as a beverage or for medicinal effects” (1). 

The herbs and plants used to make tisane teas are rich in phytochemicals that reduce inflammation and positively impact our health, which is why tisanes have been used to treat various ailments and diseases for centuries. 

Tisane vs Tea

Tisane is not technically “tea.” By definition, “tea” is made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, while tisanes are not.

The key differences between tea and tisanes are detailed below. 

Tea

As mentioned above, tea is made from the Camellia sinensis plant.

Fresh and dried camellia sinensis tea leaves

Green tea, black tea, and oolong tea are most commonly made from this plant, but differ in the way they’re processed. This difference in processing also changes the caffeine and polyphenol content of the tea leaves. 

The four steps of tea leaf processing include withering, rolling, oxidation/fermentation, and drying. Withering and oxidation/fermentation having the greatest impact on the caffeine and polyphenol content of the tea leaves (2). 

While the tea plant naturally contains 5-6% caffeine, the withering process increases the caffeine content of the tea leaves by around 18% (3).

Since green tea undergoes the shortest withering time, it has the lowest caffeine content with around 20-40 mg per cup. In contrast, black tea undergoes the longest withering time which increases the caffeine content to around 45-55 mg per cup (4).

The caffeine content of tea is still lower than coffee, which has around 95 mg per cup.

The oxidation or fermentation process of tea leaves decreases the total polyphenol content. Polyphenols are plant compounds that act as antioxidants and have numerous benefits on health.  

To ferment the tea leaves, they’re “oxidized,” or exposed to air, before drying. This causes the leaves to react with oxygen which rapidly breaks down the polyphenols (5).

Catechins are the main type of polyphenol found in tea leaves, and are reduced by up to 97% during the fermentation process (6). 

Catechins have many benefits on our health including lowering cholesterol levels, reducing plaque buildup in the arteries, slowing cognitive decline, reducing blood glucose and HbA1c levels, and promoting weight loss by increasing fat oxidation (6, 7, 8, 9). 

Since green tea is unfermented, the leaves retain all of their polyphenol content and have the highest concentration of catechins. In contrast, black tea is fully fermented, which decreases the polyphenol and catechin content (10). 

Bottom Line: Tea is made from the Camellia sinensis plant with the main varieties including green tea, oolong tea, and black tea. Green tea has the lowest caffeine and highest catechin (polyphenol) content, while black tea has the highest caffeine and lowest catechin content. 

Now let’s take a look at tisanes.

Tisanes 

Tisanes do not contain leaves from the Camellia sinensis plant, which is why they’re technically not considered tea by definition. 

Instead, tisanes are made from blends of herbs, roots, flowers, seeds, bark, or other plant compounds, excluding the Camellia sinensis plant.

Herbal teas are also considered tisanes, since they do not contain tea leaves. Tisanes are herbal tea are naturally caffeine-free.

The main difference between teas and tisanes is that tisanes do not contain leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, while tea does. Tisanes are caffeine-free, while tea contains around 20-55 mg caffeine per cup.

Types of Tisanes & Benefits 

Tisanes can be divided into two main categories: fruit tisanes and herbal tisanes. 

Below you’ll learn about 3 types of fruit tisanes and 3 types of herbal tisanes, and the unique benefits that each provides. This will help you determine which type of tisane is best for you to address specific ailments or symptoms that you may be experiencing.

Fruit Tisanes

Fruit tisanes are made from a variety of fruits and other plant parts. Examples of fruit tisanes include rose hip tea, peach leaf tea, and raspberry leaf tea.

Rose Hip Tea

Rose hip is the berry-like fruit of the rose plant that has been found to support immunity, alleviate arthritis pain, and reduce the risk of heart disease. 

Immunity: Rose hip is known for its rich content of vitamin C, which plays an important role in immunity. Vitamin C accumulates in immune cells so that they can properly defend against pathogens, and supports various other immune functions (11). 

The vitamin C content of rose hip tea depends on the amount of rose hips used. In general, 8 ounces of rose hip tea provides around 7.5 mg vitamin C, which is 10% of the daily recommended intake for women (12).

Arthritis: According to the Arthritis Foundation, Vitamin C is also an effective treatment for improving arthritis symptoms.

This is because vitamin C is needed for the production of collagen, which is the main component of the cartilage that lines the joint space between bones. 

In osteoarthritis, the cartilage wears down causing the bones to rub against each other, leading to pain and inflammation of the joints.

Consuming adequate vitamin C is essential for the production and maintenance of collagen and cartilage to prevent/alleviate painful arthritis symptoms. 

Heart Disease:  Rose hip reduces the risk of heart disease by improving cholesterol, blood pressure, and plaque formation in the arteries. 

In one study, participants saw significant reductions in total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and systolic blood pressure after drinking 40 g of rose hip powder for 6 weeks (13). 

Rose hip lowers blood pressure by stimulating the production of nitric oxide, which causes arteries to dilate (widen). 

This allows for blood to flow more easily through the arteries so that the heart doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood throughout the body, lowering blood pressure as a result. 

Another study concluded that “rose hip is a suitable dietary supplement for preventing atherosclerotic plaques formation” after observing that the arterial plaques of mice were significantly reduced after supplementing with rose hip for 24 weeks (14). 

With heart disease being the leading cause of death in the United States, incorporating rose hip tea into your lifestyle can be a simple and effective way to improve cardiovascular markers and reduce your risk of this disease.

Peach Leaf Tea

Depending on the blend, peach tea is made from a combination of dried peaches, leaves, and bark of the peach tree. It’s naturally caffeine free with a slightly sweet, fruity flavor. 

Peach leaf tea is associated with improvements in blood sugar levels, eyesight, and weight. 

Blood Sugar Control: Peach leaves contain a compound called multiflorin A,  which is “a potent inhibitor of glucose absorption” (15). 

This means that drinking peach leaf tea with a carb-containing meal can help to prevent elevated blood glucose levels by reducing how much glucose is actually being absorbed. 

Eyesight: Peaches contain carotenoids including lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene which give peaches their orange hue and play an important role on eyesight. 

Carotenoids protect the eyes from UV damage by absorbing light. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, “UV light ages all structures of the eye,” and contributes to the development of cataracts and macular degeneration.

Beta-carotene is also converted into vitamin A in the body, which is needed for vision and immunity (16). 

Weight: Peaches contain a phytochemical called chlorogenic acid which has anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and anti-obesity properties (17). 

Research shows that chlorogenic acid can accelerate weight and fat loss by inhibiting the absorption and accumulation of fat. In addition, chlorogenic acid improves insulin resistance, which is a major contributor to weight gain and obesity (18).

Raspberry Leaf Tea

Raspberry leaf tea contains compounds that support cognitive function, sleep, and women’s health. 

Cognitive Function: Ellagic acid is one of primary antioxidants found in raspberry leaves that is known for its brain-protective properties.

Research shows that ellagic acid reduces inflammation and inhibits the formation of amyloid plaques in the brain, both of which accelerate aging of the brain and are markers of Alzheimer’s disease (19, 20). 

Improves Sleep: Raspberry leaves are high in magnesium, which is one of the most important nutrients for sleep.

Magnesium helps to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation for a more restful sleep by stimulating GABA in the brain, which is known as the “anti-anxiety” and “calming” neurotransmitter (21). 

For example, a double-blind placebo-controlled trial found that magnesium supplementation significantly increased sleep time, sleep quality, and melatonin levels in adults over 60 years old (22). 

Menstrual Relief: One of the most common medicinal uses of raspberry leaf tea is for women’s health. In Europe for example, raspberry leaf tea has been approved for use in herbal medicines to alleviate symptoms associated with menstruation and labor (23).

Herbal Tisanes

Herbal tisanes can be made from the leaves, flowers, stems, and roots of various plants. Herbal tisanes are also referred to as herbal teas. Examples of herbal tisanes include dandelion tea, nettle tea, and holy basil tea. 

Dandelion Tisane Tea

Dandelion has been used as a medicinal herb for centuries to treat conditions such as heart disease, fatty liver, and type 2 diabetes. The flower, leaves, stems, and roots of the dandelion can all be used to make dandelion tea (24).

Heart Disease: Dandelion can help to reduce the risk of heart disease related to its impact on lowering lipid levels and blood pressure, both of which are risk factors for heart disease when elevated. 

Research shows that dandelion leaf supplementation significantly lowers triglyceride and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, which are risk factors for heart disease (25). 

Dandelion leaves are also a good source of potassium, which lowers blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels so that blood can flow through more easily. In addition, potassium increases the excretion of sodium to further decrease blood pressure (26, 27). 

Liver Health: Research shows that dandelion can help to treat and/or prevent fatty liver disease by inhibiting the accumulation of fat in the liver (28). 

In addition, dandelion root is known to increase bile production and secretion from the liver. Bile has two main functions: digestion of fats and eliminating waste products from the liver (29).

Bile helps with digestion by breaking down fat from our food into smaller fatty acids so they can be absorbed into the bloodstream. When fat isn’t broken down properly, it can result in diarrhea and deficiency of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.

Bile also helps to eliminate “waste products” from the liver such as excess bilirubin, cholesterol, drugs, and toxins to keep the liver and body functioning optimally (30). 

Improve Blood Glucose: Dandelion is thought to have “anti-diabetic properties” related to the phytochemicals that it contains. 

For example, dandelions contain a phytochemical called triterpenes, which lower blood glucose levels and “prevent the development of insulin resistance” (31). 

Insulin resistance occurs when the cells stop responding to insulin, resulting in elevated blood glucose levels, weight gain, and type 2 diabetes.

Dandelions also contain chicoric acid and chlorogenic acid, which are described as a “potential antidiabetic agents” (32).

These compounds help to lower blood glucose levels by stimulating insulin secretion and improving glucose uptake, resulting in glucose moving out of the bloodstream and into the cells.

Nettle Tea

Stinging nettle is a wild perennial that has nutritional and medicinal properties. Nettle tea is filled with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that keep bones strong, alleviate menstrual symptoms, and improve arthritis pain (33). 

Bone Health: Stinging nettle contains nutrients that support bone health including calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. These minerals are critical for maintaining bone density as we age and reducing the risk of fractures. 

In addition, nettle is one of the best sources of vitamin K which promotes bone formation and inhibits bone breakdown to keep bones strong. One cup of nettle leaves contains 444 micrograms of vitamin K which is over 400% of recommended daily intake (34, 35).   

Women’s Health: Stinging nettle is known to alleviate menstrual symptoms including bloating, cramping, and heavy bleeding. It also increases milk production in nursing mothers, and “can ease the transition” through menopause by balancing hormones (36). 

Reduces Pain & Inflammation: Nettles have long been used to treat inflammatory conditions like arthritis and gout due to the high content of anti-inflammatory compounds they contain. 

Research shows that nettles are able to reduce inflammation by suppressing the production of inflammatory cytokines in the body (37). 

Elevated cytokines are a key characteristic of arthritis, which is why some experts suggest that nettle “may be important in the prevention of arthritis” and in managing arthritis symptoms (38). 

In addition, nettle tea has been shown to “effectively treat gout” by reducing inflammation and uric acid levels in the body. When uric acid levels are elevated, it crystallizes in the joints leading to the pain and swelling that are associated with gout (39, 40). 

Holy Basil

Holy basil, or tulsi, has been used as a medicinal and culinary herb in Ayurveda for thousands of years. Holy basil is often referred to as the “Elixir of Life” and “Queen of Herbs” due to its numerous healing powers on the body, mind, and spirit (41). 

Holy basil has been found to improve respiratory disorders, diabetes, and mental health. 

Respiratory: One of the primary traditional uses of holy basil was for treating respiratory conditions including COPD, asthma, bronchitis, and congestion. 

Holy basil relaxes muscles of the lungs and dilates the airways. This increases airflow to the lungs and makes it easier to breathe for those with COPD, asthma, bronchitis, and colds/congestion  (42). 

Blood Glucose: Holy basil can play a role in managing diabetes by lowering blood glucose and HbA1c levels. 

One study found that participants with non-insulin-dependent diabetes who drank 2.5 grams of holy basil tea per day had significant reductions in blood glucose levels in the morning (fasting) and following meals (43). 

They found that fasting blood glucose levels were reduced by an average of 21 mg/dl, and post-meal blood glucose levels were reduced by 15.8 mg/dl. 

Another study found that HbA1c levels were reduced by 35.8% when holy basil was taken along with diabetic medication for 12-13 weeks, compared to taking diabetic medication alone (44). 

Stress & Mental Health: Holy basil is considered an adaptogen due to its abilities to help the body respond to stress and exert a “normalizing effect” on systems of the body. In other words, it works to keep the body in a state of health and homeostasis. 

Holy basil is effective in reducing stress by lowering levels of the stress-hormone cortisol. One study found that participants who took 125 mg of holy basil twice daily for 8 weeks had significantly lower cortisol levels compared to the placebo group (45). 

In addition to reducing stress, holy basil also helps to alleviate anxiety. 

In one study, participants with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) received 500 mg holy basil twice daily for 60 days and found that holy basil significantly reduced anxiety, and also reduced stress and depression that are correlated with GAD (46). 

The researchers of this study concluded that holy basil “may be useful in the treatment of GAD.” 

Final Thoughts

Tisane tea is made from blends of herbs, flowers, roots, and stems of various plants. Since tisanes don’t contain tea leaves, they are naturally caffeine-free.

Tisanes are full of nutrients and antioxidants that benefit whole-body health, and can be an effective tool to promote longevity. 

Whether you’re looking to improve blood glucose levels, reduce inflammation, boost immunity, or protect your brain from cognitive decline, tisane teas can be a great option to improve various ailments and health conditions.

As always, check with your healthcare provider before incorporating tisane teas into your lifestyle to discuss safety and possible interactions.

Now that you understand what tisane teas are and the unique health benefits that each provides, I hope that you can confidently choose a blend that supports your unique needs!

For more on tisanes, check out my article Fruit Tea Benefits where I cover the top benefits of 7 fruit tisane blends 🙂

 

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