Water is one of the best ways to extract and open up the full range of vitamins and nutrients from herbs. Water-based herbal preparations are also absorbed quickly and easily into the body because the majority of our body is made up of water. Maintaining hydration is important and herbal teas and infusions can provide the supplemental nutrients our bodies need.
I like to use a quart canning jar with a seal and lid or an infusion teapot to make teas and infusions. Capping them tight is important because it keeps important vitamins and minerals from escaping through the steam.
Herbal teas are simple to make and a nourishing way to reap the healthy benefits from plants. Honey is a great natural sweetener for herbal teas. Lemons can also enhance the flavor of many teas.
I was never taught any definite rules for combining herbs in a tea blend. The best place to start is the intention of the tea. Are you making a tea which is calming and relaxing or a tea to aid sleep? After the type of tea is decided, then it is time to consider the properties of each herb that will be included. Another good thing to keep in mind is balance. If making a bitter tea for aiding digestion, then include a soothing herb such as marshmallow or licorice root.
To make an herbal tea, use one teaspoon of dried herb per one cup of boiling water. If using fresh herb, make it two teaspoons of the herb per cup of boiling water. Let the herb steep up to twenty minutes.
Chamomile and aromatic seeds, such as fennel, are best made into teas. If steeped longer than 15 – 20 minutes, the flavor changes drastically.
An infusion is a strong tea. Infusions are steeped longer, making the tea a darker, thicker liquid with a much stronger taste. Making an infusion brings out the more medicinal qualities of a herb which makes the herb a more potent remedy. Infusions are the most simple and medicinally potent water-based herbal preparation we can make.
To make an infusion, place one ounce of dried herb in an infusion teapot or quart jar. Pour in enough boiling water to fill the jar; then cap tightly. Let it steep anywhere from 4 hours. to all night long. Strain the herb and drink cups of the infusion throughout the day. If there is any infusion left, it should be stored in the fridge because water-based herbal remedies can spoil fast. An infusion can be stored in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
Making Teas and Infusions with:
Seeds are dense, hard like roots, but when soaked in water, they will open easily and do not have to be infused for long. If seeds are infused for too long, they taste really bad. An exception to this rule is Rose hips, Hawthorn Berries and Elderberries which can be infused for four hours or so.
Seeds: Place one ounce of dried seeds or berries in a pint jar. Add enough boiling water to fill to the top of the jar and cap tightly. Allow the seeds or berries to infuse no longer than 30 minutes.
Flowers, along with leaves, are the most delicate part of a plant and do not have to infuse for long. Flowers can be infused sufficiently in about 2 hours. However, if infusing a blend that contains flowers, leaves and stalks, such as Yarrow, then infusing for 4 hours is fine.
To infuse flowers, add 1 ounce of flowers to a quart jar and cover with boiling water. Fill to the top and then cap tightly. Allow to infuse for a couple of hours.
*Chamomile should not be infused any longer than 30 minutes. It can become volatile.
Leaves are the other most delicate part of a plant. Leaves contain an important healing element called chlorophyll.
To infuse leaves, add 1 ounce of leaves to a quart jar and again, fill to the top and cap tightly. Leaves can be infused longer than seeds and flower tops. I infuse them anywhere from about 4 hours to overnight. I usually strain them the next morning and drink the infusion throughout the day.
The root of a plant is the most solid and it is also the most medicinally potent part of a plant. And because of the density of the root, extracting the medicinal qualities can take more time. Roots should be chopped into smaller pieces or cut into slices.
To infuse roots, add 1 ounce to a quart jar and cover with boiling water. Again, cap it tightly and allow the root to infuse for about 8 hours.
Tree barks are medicinal too. The inner bark is used; which is the layer just under the outer layer. Barks are infused the same as roots.