How To Make A Tea
Chamomile – Matricaria recutita
A tea is an extract made with hot or cold water. We make a tea by putting the herbs into water and letting them steep or simmer. Leaves and flowers, the soft plant parts, are steeped. Harder plant parts, such as most roots, barks and seeds, require simmering. There are exceptions to this rule. Plant parts that are highly aromatic are often steeped so as not to loose their important volatile oils. Examples of these herbs are valerian root and ginger root. Other herbs work well as cold infusions, such as wild cherry bark and marshmallow root.
How To Start
When making herbal teas always use good quality spring or distilled water. It is important to use non-aluminum pots and utensils for preparing your herbs.
First it is important to understand proportions of herb to water. It all depends on whether you desire to make a pleasant beverage tea or are trying to make a more therapeutic tea. For a beverage tea you might use anywhere from 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of herbs per cup of water. For a therapeutic tea you could use anywhere from 1/2 ounce to 1 full ounce of herb to 2 cups of water. Note: Volume is very different from weight. Herbs such as chamomile and mullein are light and fluffy compared with denser herbs like anise seed or burdock root.
Infusions & Decoctions
Infusions are made with room temperature water or with hot water. To make a cold infusion or sun tea place your herbs directly in the water or tea ball. If making a sun tea put the herbs and water in a glass jar and set out in the sun for a few hours or until the tea is well brewed. When making a cold infusion put the herbs in and let set overnight. A standard infusion is made by first boiling the water, turning it off, then putting in the herbs. It is best to cover the pot so as not to loose any volatile oils the plants contain. The herbs are left to steep in the hot water for anywhere from 10 – 20 minutes. After that time the herbs are removed by straining the tea.
Decoctions are made by simmering the herbs in water, anywhere from the usual 20 minutes up to an hour or more. Put the herbs in the water and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and let the herbs simmer with the lid on. Strain and your decoction is ready.
How To Make A Combination Decoction / Infusion
Simple really – first make your decoction with the hard plant parts first. After this is done, turn off the heat and add the softer plant parts. Cover and steep until ready. Then strain your tea.
Text & Photograph Copyright 2008 by Jodi Shagg, In Harmony Herbs & Spices