The art of tea making has been prized for many thousands of years. In fact, it is one of the most common methods for the consumption of medicinal herbs.
It’s a simple process that requires simple tools. So long as you have…
- boiling water
- a pot, cup, or jar
…you have a very safe and effective healing remedy.
Herbal teas can be prepared either through infusion or decoction based on the delicacy of the plant material.
Creating an herbal infusion involves pouring boiling water over parts of the plant such as leaves, flowers, and stems then allowing the infusion to steep for 10 to 45 minutes (The longer the steeping time the more beneficial components of the herbs are released into the water). Note: Cover the jar, bowl, or cup while steeping to avoid the loss of medicinal properties from evaporation.
As with oil infusions (we’ll talk more about this next post in the series), you may also create an herbal water infusion by using solar or cold infusion methods. In order to do so, combine the herbs and room temperature water in a glass jar. For a solar infusion, place the covered jar in a sunny location and allow to steep for 2-8 hours. And for a cold infusion, you can simply leave the jar in the refrigerator to steep overnight then strain in the morning.
Herbal infusions can be prepared in larger quantities and refrigerated (up to 3 days) for convenience and ease of use during times of illness.
Decoctions refer to the method of extracting the medicinal properties of the more substantial parts of the plant, such as the roots, barks, or seeds.
In order to prepare herbal teas using this method, one would be required to place the herb and water into a covered pot and bring the mixture to a simmer for 15-45 minutes on the stove, depending on the strength needed.
Important to Note: Don’t panic if you happen to infuse a root herb that should have simmered…your creation is still good and contains many healing properties.
Preparation and Dosage
A good rule of thumb for preparing herbal infusions or decoctions is to use a ratio of 1 tablespoon of dried herbs — or 2 tablespoon of fresh herbs — to 1 cup of water. These days, I rarely ever make tea by the cupful — it’s just to time consuming. Instead, my favorite way to prepare daily medicinal teas is to grab a quart-sized mason jar and place a handful (approx. 1/4 cup) of dried herbs in the jar. Fill to the top with boiling water and infuse in the refrigerator overnight. I strain it in the morning and keep the jar with me — drinking it all throughout the day.
I generally use this method for nourishing and immune-system building tea blends.
But during times of illness, the rules are a bit different — and the effectiveness of the tea is seen in small, more frequent dosages. For example, at the onset of a fever or headache begin sipping on an appropriate tea — taking 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the beverage — every 30 minutes until the symptoms are relieved.
Although medicinal teas aren’t quite as concentrated and potent as a tincture, I believe strongly in their ability to support the body toward health.
What about you? What’s your favorite way to make medicinal teas and how often do you drink them?