Photography by Kara Riley
Ever thought of making your own herbal blend but not really sure where to start? Homemade herbal teas or tisanes (the proper term, pronounced “tee-sahn”) make great gifts for friends, family, or enjoyed just by yourself. All it takes is a little bit of patience, some basic equipment, a good dose of imagination and some quality ingredients.
Before you dive in, you’ll want to invest in the right equipment to help you make great blends.
The bare minimum to get you started includes:
A sturdy pair of scissors
A notepad and pen
Cups and spoons
A pair of quality scales, preferably one that is calibrated to units of 0.1g
To source your ingredients, check out your local health food store or specialty bulk foods for their range of dried fruits, herbs and spices.
Flavour and proportion
What do blends like peppermint and chamomile, ginger and lemongrass, rosehip and hibiscus and even apple and cinnamon have in common? Aside from the fact they are popular blends and they taste good, they generally contain four ingredients or fewer. Less is more when it comes to blending, and often the most effective blend is also the simplest.
The key is to work with a light hand and gradually add more of an ingredient to adjust, or introduce a new ingredient as you see fit.
With equipment in hand and a few ingredients in mind, you might be wondering what makes a good recipe when there are virtually hundreds of possibilities. Everybody has different tastes, but as a general rule, an effective blend will look, taste and smell appealing in equal measure.
With the right combination, a blend is said to have great ’synergy’ — that is, a good balance of ingredients that are appealing to the senses and work well together to produce a satisfying result. The best way to achieve a well balanced blend is to be persistent and keep refining your idea. That means lots of trial and error, plenty of tasting and lots of note taking on what works and what doesn’t in each revision of your recipe.
A good reference point for a basic blend is comprised of one floral, one herbal, one spice and one colour accent.
In this recipe, we have chosen chamomile, spearmint, cinnamon and blue cornflower. Chamomile’s apple-grass flavour lends colour and aroma. Spearmint adds an element of menthol that is sweet, cooling and clean tasting. Cinnamon adds an element of earthiness, delivering warmth, spiciness and woodiness. Cornflower offers very little flavour to the blend, but adds colour and interest.
Once you’ve created your blend, place the ingredients in an airtight container out of direct light for a few days, to allow the flavours and aromas of the blend to come together.
Chamomile and Spearmint (20g or 10 teaspoons/serves)
12g Organic Chamomile buds
5g dried spearmint leaves
2g true cinnamon quills, crushed (also known as Ceylon Cinnamon or Cinnamomum verum)
1g blue cornflower
Brew at 100ºC for 3–5 minutes, then enjoy.
For more advice on making your own blends, check out our tips for crafting your own blends.