17th Century French Tisanes
Answered by: Susan Eagles
Question from: Kenneth
Posted on: September 15, 2000

I am a writer of Historic fiction – working on a novel about a rural family in the late 1600s in Provence, France. Tea and coffee – as we know them – were not available at that time. I suspect that the rural woman would drink a "tisane" or herb tea. I would like to describe a likely herb tea – and its effects – being made and drank by my heroine. But I would also like to try one myself before I use it in the novel.

I don’t have facts on the tisanes used in France at that time, but the most likely would be chamomile flower and fennel seed. Both would grow locally, and both have been used medicinally since ancient times. They were written of in ancient Greek and Roman literature which was later brought to Europe. They are popular, pleasant tasting teas.

Chamomile was commonly used, as it is today, as a calming remedy, and for stomach problems.

Ground fennel seed tea has commonly been used as a tea for relieving flatulence and preserving eyesight.

Other herbs that have been recorded in both ancient and 16th century medicinals are betony, used for aches and pains, ground ivy, traditionally used for cough and consumption and lemon balm, commonly used to lift the spirits and calm the nerves.

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