Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Verveine tisane...

Most of the things that I've encountered in France that revolve around eating have been right up my alley - dinners starting at 8:30 PM, taking one's time to eat (as in three or four hours) so that you can actually appreciate the food that is going into your mouth, the social atmosphere of meals - however the one thing that I still don't understand is why the french choose to have espresso after the meal, which is usually in and around the time of 11 PM. After a night with zero sleep thanks to my approximately 11:30 PM espresso following a friend's birthday dinner last night, I began to wonder, do the french actually sleep?

Cut to last week - we were in the Botanic center in St. Genis-Pouilly buying pots and soil, and I came upon a verveine citronnelle (lemon verbena) plant. The smell of it was the *exact* same smell as the lemon italian water ice that we used to subsist off of on the beach in the summer in Margate, NJ. I knew my life would not be complete without this plant. We brought it home, put it in a bigger pot, and wondered what to do with it.

Pic via here.

So, this morning, in my sleep-deprived-over-caffeinated-state, I began searching for recipes of how to actually use this delicious, refreshing, and nostalgia inducing plant in a way to ease my crankyness. Low and behold - french verveine tisane. I've often seen tisane in the Bio and Migros, but was never quite sure if it was tea or something else. It turns out it's something else - more of an herbal infusion lacking the tannins and caffeine. Tisanes claim to do everything from promoting relaxation, helping one fall asleep after a full meal or an overload of caffeine, to curing migraines (depending on the leaves infused). I found that verveine is often used in these tisanes, and decided that since I've got a little plant just begging to be used on the patio, that it was time to experiment. The result was delicious, with a gentle lemon taste, and dare I say relaxing? You can experiment as you wish to your taste, but for my tisane I used approximately 30 fresh verveine leaves infused in a teapot of boiling water, allowing it to steep for 5 minutes. If you don't have a verveine plant, the link listed above also provides recipes for combinations of other fresh and dried herbs, such as rosemary, basil, fennel, dill, mint and lavender. So,after the next dinner outing and late night espresso I will definitely test out the powers of the french tisane and hope it overcomes the caffeine to will me to sleep...

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