What is the difference between a tea and a tisane? This question frequently comes up when I speak with customers since we differentiate between tea and tisanes here at Tea Sip. To answer this question, we must first define tea.
Tea... the plant
So, it all starts with this plant - Camellia sinensis.
Camellia sinensis is a subtropical evergreen small tree that is native to Asia. All true tea - white, green, oolong, black, dark - comes from this one plant. Crazy, right!? There are two main varieties - Camellia sinensis sinensis, which is native to China, and Camellia sinensis assamica, which is native to India.
Tea... the leaf
When we talk about tea, we are mainly talking about the processed leaves themselves. Tea is the dried processed leaf and can either be straight, or "naked" as we call it at Tea Sip, or it can be flavored, scented or blended with other botanicals.
Creating the different types of teas that come from the Camellia sinensis plant has to do with the variety, or cultivar, and where in the world the plant is grown. In addition, one of the main ways we create the different tea types is through the processing steps and methods, and not every tea goes through every step. The 6 basic processing stages are plucking, withering, rolling and shaping, oxidation, firing, and sorting. Tea production is a complex and interesting process... but that's a topic for another blog. ;)
Tea... the drink
Did you know that tea is the second most consumed beverage on the planet after water? That’s just plain amazing.
The infusion of the Camellia sinensis leaf in water, is also called tea.
So we’ve established that all true teas come from Camellia sinensis. So then, what is chamomile? What is hibiscus? What is rooibos? Many people call these “tea”, but actually they are not tea. Beverages made from other botanicals are more accurately called tisanes, or herbal infusions, and they are commonly called herbal teas. We love these delicious infusions as well, but they all come from different plants than true tea.