How We Make Our Tisane Blends
At My Cup of Tea we are truly passionate about tisanes; we are constantly inspired by the aromas, flavours and colours of freshly harvested herbs and flowers. The process of creating a My Cup of Tea blend relies on an understanding of seasonality and terroir, a deep respect for nature, and a knowledge of techniques that ensure the delicate flavours of the blossoms, buds, roots, leaves, seeds and stems are preserved.
We look to many parts of the world to find the places with the right growing conditions for our tisanes. Egypt is the home of our golden camomile, and France the source of the honey-scented blossom of the lime tree. Lithuania provides us with so many of our favourite herbs, including smoky dried forest raspberries and wild mint harvested from the river’s edge. Iran is renowned for its delicate orange blossom with notes of almond and citrus.
Terroir is an essential consideration when sourcing the perfect herbs for blends. Everything from the soil, climate, topography of the land, weather and the characteristics of the surrounding area contribute to the subtle notes and essential oil content of the plants. Herbs that grow wild will often have a very different flavour to those grown on farms. For example, forest soils produce a distinct earthy flavour, and plants growing near rivers often taste much brighter than those from a hillside. Farmers must be aware of the usage of nearby land to ensure there are no contaminants. The amount of sun the plants see will also influence the balance of sweetness and bitterness; some herbs such as camomile benefit from lots of year-round sun to allow a sweet flavour, whereas others like wild mint are most suited to the shade.
Working with the right growers is essential. Our growers take immense care with all of their harvesting activities. Some are foragers, using an in-depth knowledge of their homeland to judge when and where to look for naturally-growing herbs. The wild herbs obtained from these foragers allow for a very creative blending process, which can be a little unpredictable but very exciting. Other growers we work with are skilled farmers who specialise in particular plants, and take a considered approach to farming with a great respect for the environment.
The time of year the herbs are picked is important to consider. Some herbs are at their fullest flavour in the spring, while others taste best in the summer or autumn. For certain herbs, harvesting occurs before the plants have bloomed, and others such as wild forest mint are picked when in their flowering state. Farmers must also factor in the optimum time of day to harvest. Our lemon verbena is picked in the morning on a dry day just before flowering to harness its fresh citrus notes, and summer jasmine flowers are picked in the evening when they are most fragrant.
We process our tisanes very carefully to bring out their optimum aroma and taste. Often several parts of the plant are used, each imparting subtly different flavours. The herbs are either dried naturally in the open air or in low temperature ovens over a long period of time. We hand cut the herbs by hand so that no heat is applied to them, and meticulously sort through them to separate the best parts for blends from the parts we will use for another purpose. We appreciate the importance of careful packaging and transportation to make sure our products reach our customers in their finest condition.
We blend our tisanes by hand in small batches, in proportions that accentuate the delicate notes of each. We select herbs that work perfectly together to complement each other, and create blends that are inspired by various cultures and our travels around the world. Our Rose and Cardamom blend was created following an inspiring trip to Morocco, and our Orange Blossom and Verbena was born from a long holiday in Provence, South of France.
We carefully choose a base for a blend that provides balance while taking on the flavour of other herbs. Our Ginger and Lemongrass uses camomile as a base, which acts as a sponge to absorb the zesty, citrusy notes. Some of our blends are seasonal, like our Camomile and Lavender and our spicy Turkish Apple, so are only available following the harvest, making them all the more special when they land in our cup for the first time each year.