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Real Recipe: Tisane de Tilleul

Around the table in the south of France. 

Meals in France are typically accompanied by a series of beverages. The apéritif is the opening drink served with appetizers or tapas (champagne, rosé wine, whiskey, etc), then most likely white wine for the first course, moving on to red as the courses get richer (with the most complex red often served with cheese at the very end of the meal), then finishing with the digestif (think cognac). But wait, there’s still the espresso or herbal tea to close it all out.

At our table we often finish with an infusion, traditionally called a tisane. Infusions are the french word for herbal tea steeped in hot water. A tisane simply means it has curative properties.

One of Avery’s favorite’s is tilleul, made from the first blossoms of the tilleul or linden tree. The flowers are finely sweet smelling and the tisane effect calming and soothing. In France you can buy tilleul sachets at any supermarket and in restaurants you usually have the choice of tilleul or verveine (lemon verbena) as an infusion.

We’re lucky enough to have several large tilleul trees where we live and in late June the fragrant flowers buzz with the activity of bees. The flowers must be picked within the first few days of blooming in order to have the medicinal tisane effect.

Tisane de tilleul works as a mild sedative and helps calm stomach cramps. It also favors blood circulation. However, if steeped too long, or made with a dose too strong, tilleul can have the opposite effect, exciting rather than calming, and lead to insomnia.

For the perfect cup that favors a restful sleep after a fulfilling meal, follow these simple instructions:

Pour 200 ml of hot water over one teaspoon of dried tilleul flowers. Let it infuse for 10 minutes and enjoy.

TIP: Fresh tilleul flowers are also wonderful additions to desserts and summer fruit salads, adding a delicate sweetness only known for a few days in late spring or early summer. Bon appétit!

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