[Sca-cooks] tisane

Lilinah lilinah at earthlink.net
Sun Nov 4 16:19:49 PST 2007

>It makes me wonder that they did not mention the use of "tisane" for
>tea. I think they would have noticed if "tisane" was indeed used often
>to refer to tea during the Middle Ages. Hence, up to now I see no
>evidence supporting the original claim: "While we moderns call a tea
>any dried herb steeped in water, in the MA such a beasty was often
>called a tissane."

Yeah, but they didn't call an herbal infusion "tea" either, since 
both tea (Camellia sinensis) and the name for it didn't enter into 
Europe with any commonness until the mid-17th C. The English word 
"tea" developed indirectly from the Chinese word "cha", which means 
tea (Camellia sinensis), as did pretty much all the other words for 
tea (Camellia sinensis) in European languages.

While i was looking for pre-17th C. recipes for herbal infusions - 
what the French and some English speakers now call "tisane" - i found 
that some of the recipes called the infusions "juice of nnn", where 
"nnn" is the main herbal ingredient. They were not called "tea", 
since the word and its variants were pretty much unknown in Europe - 
yeah, some intrepid travellers ran across actual tea before 1601, but 
it was generally unknown until the wealthy got it in the 17th C. and 
it became popular in the mid-17th C.

If Europeans were drinking hot herb infusions as general beverages 
prior to 1601, i can't find many mentions. From what i can tell, the 
majority of tisanes/ptisans and herbal beverages prior to 1601 were 
medicinal, and i haven't found a single consistent name for these 
herbal infusions - except, perhaps, "infusion".
Urtatim (that's err-tah-TEEM)
the persona formerly known as Anahita

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