AskDefine | Define tisane

Dictionary Definition

tisane n : infusion of e.g. dried or fresh flowers or leaves

User Contributed Dictionary



From Old French ptisane, tisane.


  • /tɪ'zæn/


  1. An infusion or drink, especially medicinal or curative, made by steeping in hot water; a herbal tea
    • 1993: As soon as he had opened the door he worked his way back to his high-backed Queen Anne armchair, where he picked up his bone-china cup and took a sip of a rarefied tisane. — Will Self, My Idea of Fun



Latin tisana, ptisana, from Greek πτισανη ‘peeled barley, barley-water’, related to πτισσειν ‘peel’.


  • /tizan/


tisane f
  1. a herbal tea



  1. Plural of tisana

Extensive Definition

An herbal tea, tisane, or ptisan is an herbal infusion made from anything other than the leaves of the tea bush (Camellia sinensis). The English word "tisane" originated from the Greek word πτισάνη (ptisanē), a drink made from pearl barley. Strictly speaking, the name 'herbal teas' is a misnomer, as they are not made with real tea (Camellia sinensis), but by infusing other plants. In many countries (but not in the United States) the use of the word tea is legally restricted to infusions of Camellia sinensis (the tea plant).
Herbal teas can be made with fresh or dried flowers, leaves, seeds or roots, generally by pouring boiling water over the plant parts and letting them steep for a few minutes. Seeds and roots can also be boiled on a stove. The tisane is then strained, sweetened if so desired, and served. Many companies produce herbal tea bags for such infusions.
On the other hand, flavoured teas are prepared by adding other plants to an actual tea (black, oolong, green, yellow, or white tea); for example, the popular Earl Grey tea is black tea with bergamot, jasmine tea is Chinese tea with jasmine flowers, and genmaicha is a Japanese green tea with toasted rice.


Varieties of herbal infusions include:

Medicinal concerns

Herbal teas are often consumed for their physical or medicinal effects, especially for their stimulant, relaxant or sedative properties. The medicinal effects of certain herbs are discussed under herbalism. The medicinal benefits of specific herbs are often anecdotal or controversial, and in the United States and elsewhere, makers of herbal teas are not allowed to make unsubstantiated claims about the medicinal effects of their products.
While most herbal teas are safe for regular consumption, some herbs have toxic or allergenic effects. Among the greatest causes of concern are:
Herbal teas can also have different effects from person to person, and this is further compounded by the problem of potential misidentification. The deadly foxglove, for example, can be mistaken for the much more benign (but still relatively hepatotoxic) comfrey.
The UK currently does not require natural products such as herbs to have any evidence concerning their efficacy, but does treat them technically as food stuff and require that they are safe for consumption.

Popular culture

Herbal tea, along with hot chocolate, was the favorite drink of Agatha Christie's sleuth, Hercule Poirot. In numerous stories, Poirot brews a tisane in order to recover from wet weather or to soothe his 'little grey cells.'

See also


tisane in Danish: Urtete
tisane in German: Kräutertee
tisane in French: Tisane
tisane in Italian: Tisana
tisane in Hungarian: Gyümölcstea
tisane in Dutch: Kruidenthee
tisane in Japanese: ハーブティ
tisane in Slovenian: Zeliščni čaj
tisane in Chinese: 草本茶

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

balm, balsam, drops, drug, electuary, elixir, ethical drug, generic name, herbs, inhalant, lincture, linctus, materia medica, medicament, medication, medicinal, medicinal herbs, medicine, mixture, nonprescription drug, officinal, patent medicine, pharmacon, physic, powder, preparation, prescription drug, proprietary, proprietary medicine, proprietary name, simples, syrup, theraputant, vegetable remedies
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