Herbal Interests // Herbal Teas
Our herb garden is growing larger. We've added four new plants to the mix: chamomile, cilantro, dill and parsely, and have repotted the older plant babies into bigger pots. They are growing at such a rapid pace; it is so rewarding to see how they change each day! I was surprised to see that by planting the newest herbs (which also started from seeds) in the older herbs' soil and clay pots, the seeds have sprouted extremely quickly. Instead of taking the 14-21 days to sprout, they all have come up within a week. I am sure if you know more about plants, this would probably be a, "duh," moment. It surprised me!
Now that I have taken an interest in herbal medicine, I have been on the hunt for not only the best way to put my new plants to use, but the correct way. The most well known way of using herbal medicine is through tea. It is the most ancient form of medicine and has been used for centuries, as it is pleasurable and comforting to drink. Not only is this positive to the mind, body and soul, it doesn't break the bank either. Growing your own herbs or buying them in bulk to make tea is much cheaper than buying prepackaged tea bags. Herbal tea is also cheaper than making capsules or tinctures (something we will discuss in a later part of this series).
The body assimilates to tea much more easily than an extract, and has the added benefit of hydration, unless the herbs used are a natural diuretic. Water is a solvent for minerals, mucilage, volatile oils, and most medicinal constituents.
There are two ways to make an herbal tea. You can make an infusion or a decoction. I will be teaching you how to make both, and then there are a few easily achieved recipes at the end of this blog. I am considering doing a post on more complicated loose leaf teas, but I am not sure yet! Before we begin, a few tips:
- Try to make your tea fresh daily. Herbal tea will stay fresh at room temperature for about 12 hours. It is convenient and common to make about three days worth of tea at a time. This can be kept in the fridge.
- You may consider making ice cubes of herbal tea to pop in your glass of water for an added burst of flavor and well being.
TO MAKE AN INFUSION:
Herbal infusions are made from lightweight plant matter such as leaves, flowers, and fruits. Herbs with a higher percentage of volatile oils are generally prepared as an infusion, even if they are made up of thicker plant parts. You can prepare your infusion in a french press, teapot, or infuser.
- To infuse, bring your desired amount of water to a boil. Pour the herb over the water and let it sit covered for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat, strain the herb and drink immediately or after it has cooled.
TO MAKE A DECOCTION:
An herbal decoction is a simmered tea. It is the preferred form of preparation for thicker plant matter such as roots, bark, medicinal mushrooms, and non-aromatic seeds.
- To decoct, place the herb in water and bring to a boil. Let simmer, covered, for 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat and strain. Drink immediately or after it has cooled. These herbs can be simmered for a few more rounds if desired.
PROPORTIONS FOR INFUSIONS + DECOCTIONS:
- Folk Method: 1 teaspoon of dried, cut, and sifted herb or herbal formula (a mixture of two or more herbs), or 2 tablespoons of fresh herb per 8 ounces of water. This strength is not exact, as some herbs are stronger than others. Many herbalists use this proportion when making an herbal tea: one handful of an herb or herbal formula to one quart of water. A daily dose of this method is 3-4 cups of tea per day. Please note, this is not an appropriate form of measurement for herbs that have a higher potential for side effects.
- Weight Method: 5.5 grams of dried herb for every 1 cup of water. This dosage is one cup of tea three times a day. When using an herbal formula, decrease the amount of each individual herb to match up with the weight measurement stated earlier. If the individual drinking the tea is weak or sensitive, the dosage will need to be smaller.
- Make sure to experiment with herbs individually before making herbal formulas. Most herbs are very safe and often used to embellish food, but always do your research before handling as a medication.
- When determining dosage in children, look back to the dosage in the average adult. The average adult dosage is for a 150 lb person. Divide the child's weight by 150. Take that number and multiply it by the recommended adult dosage. Children over the age of one can drink an herbal tea, however take the time to look into what you are giving them.
SIMPLE HERBAL TEA RECIPES:
- Peppermint, chamomile, and jasmine flowers - Soothing and relaxing. Good for relaxing the stomach and helps reduce anxiety.
- Black ceylon tea leaves, rose petals, and vanilla bean - Invigorating, boost the immune system, and makes you more alert.
- Lavender, mint, and hibiscus - Rich in Vitamin C, boosts immune system, and decreases depression and mood swings.
The teas above are easily achievable! Please experiment with each herb individually before mixing these teas together. I am not a licensed practitioner nor an expert herbalist. This is all based on my own personal research and interest. I am planning on a follow up post with more tea recipes that are medicinal and recreational. Enjoy!