I was living in Spain when the distinction was first made clear to me. "Tea" is a plant. Specifically, it is the Camellia sinensis plant. So when I asked for a "chamomile tea," you can imagine the frustration and discomfort of the poor Spanish lady behind the counter of the bar. "Es una infusión" she said, It's an infusion. We don't get too hung up on the distinction here in the states, it seems, but it is one that I have come to appreciate. It is also known as a tisane, or a ptisan.
I have also come to appreciate the infusions themselves. As I love to grow things, and love to eat and drink things, I naturally love to grow things I can eat and drink. Herbs are some of those things. I am so content to stroll through my little garden and snip a little of this and a little of that, create an infusion, and sip on it.
Just the other day we went over to Susie's house for dinner with her and Ka. I had made an infusion earlier in the day and had chilled it in the fridge. As we were cooking (I made an Italian-style pork fried rice with porcini mushrooms to go with our grilled chicken) I poured some of the tea..er, I mean, infusion for us. Ka was pretty excited. "What is this? How did you make it?"
All you need is the herbs. It can take a while to get started, but once you do, you're all set! The picture above is of lemon balm, and this one here is anise hyssop.
In this tisane I also used hyssop, spearmint, peppermint, salvia elegans (pineapple sage), salvia spathacea, raspberry leaf, and rosemary.
Some other faves are mullein, calendula, lavender, prunella...
My go-to book for herbal tonics of all sorts, and their medicinal benefits is Healing Tonics, by Jeanine Pollak. Definitely check it out if you are interested in using herbs and making tinctures or tonics or tisanes.
I also dissolved a tablespoon of heaven. Oh, you've never tried heaven?!
Well, you should. Uh-mazing. My girlfriend isn't a big fan of honey, but when I made her try this...big fan.
When I use fresh herbs for infusions I let the water cool a bit after it has boiled before I add them in. Let it steep for 10 minutes or so, and you're done. Enjoy it hot, or let chill and sip it iced on a hot day.