In the first course, you got a "first flush" of tea knowledge. The most important thing to remember from the previous course now is what is real tea. You probably have a lot of tea boxes in the pantry (where you shouldn't have them, as tea easily picks up flavor from smells) that says tea on them and perhaps you are wondering which of them is not tea?
As you learned in the previous course, only leaves from the Camellia sinensis plant are real tea. This means that everything that does not come from Camellia is "non-tea". Another word for it is "tisanes" (and such a nice word is naturally French.) or tisanes.
The most common things to use in tisanes are dried flowers, herbs, spices and fruit.
Probably the most widespread form of tisane is herbal tea - although often no tea leaves are included in the mixtures!
Herbal tea has, in the main, become widespread for its health-giving effect, but is now finding its way to thirsty palates as a caffeine-free substitute for coffee. The oldest and best known varieties are peppermint and chamomile.
Fruit tea is another common tisane that consists only of dried fruit, spices and herbs and must not be confused with flavored tea made from fruit oils. Fruit tea is decaffeinated, flavored tea is not.
Another non-tea that has become widespread recently is rooibos, also known as "Red bush tea" or "red tea". Rooibos comes from the plant of the same name.
The last variety of tisanes we mention in this course is yerba maté, or maté, and is not as widespread as rooibos, yet. Mate also contains caffeine, but is a healthier alternative to coffee that does not give the nervous feeling of stress and has therefore become widespread for its invigorating and energizing effect. Read more about yerba maté in the advanced course.
It is possible to make countless mixtures of tisanes! When we mix tea leaves and tisanes, we call it infusions.