Have you ever made herbal infusions? You might be thinking you haven’t, but chances are that you make them once or twice a day everytime you make tea.
You can always grab easy to prepare tea bags, but you probably won’t reap the rewards as much as if you prepare your own medicinal blends. Of course we love our convenience, but I personally love results even more. If you’re serious about learning how to brew medicinal teas then it is essential that you learn how to use dried herbs in decoctions and infusions.
I personally love homemade tea blends because I know exactly what I am putting in my body, plus they are always tastier & higher quality as well. I grow herbs in my garden that I use for my own personal blends, like peppermint, lavender, rosemary, sage, thyme & even stevia.
Blend Bee offers one of the most unique tea buying experiences, because you can create your own custom blends in the Blending Station. The best part is that their expert tea maker will create the tea for you, so you don’t have to worry about using the correct measurments of herbs, and you know the tea will taste great as well.
The Benefits of Water Extraction for Preparing Medicinal Teas
Teas are one of the oldest forms of medicine. They have existed long before capsules, and tinctures took over. They’re healthy, refreshing, and nutritious. If it is possible to substitute capsules or tinctures (alcohol extracts) with a herbal tea, I always choose the latter. This is because of a number of reasons.
- Our bodies absorb tea more easily than capsules or tinctures.
- Teas generally have lesser side effects as compared to other medicinal items.
- Unlike tinctures, they do not have any trace of alcohol in them, so they’re suitable for people who like to avoid alcohol.
- Unless they’re specially prepared for losing body water, teas help to keep the body hydrated.
- They’re very easy to prepare, and they’re cheaper.
Not every herb is going to have a pleasant taste, so some people like to have capsules and tinctures in order to avoid having to go through the unpleasant taste of those herbs in teas, but this problem is not something that can’t be solved. There are many herbs like licorice, cardamom, or cinnamon that can be used in teas to mask the unpleasant taste induced by some herbs.
If you have time to make fresh tea daily, you can easily make a quart of tea in the morning, and then you can keep having It slowly throughout your day. Tea usually remains fresh for about 12 hours, after that its taste changes. You can also prepare tea ahead of time, of course fresh tea is always best though. One fun trick is the freeze your tea into ice cubes, then pop them in your thermos or water bottle to take with you. Obviously this is most desirable during summer months.
What are Infusions?
You can’t make herbal tea without infusion. An infusion is the process of extracting minerals, and vitamins from light weight plants such as herbs, flowers, and fruits. Plants that have high concentrations of volatile oils in them are typically used in infusions even if they are harder materials such as barks and roots.
Tea infusions can be prepared in a French Press, Glass or Ceremic Tea pots, bamboo or stainless tea infusers. Some people even use mason Jars for infusing tea, but I don’t recommend that because the mason jars may break when exposed to high heat.
A typical infusion is prepared by pouring boiling water over the herbs, and keeping the mixture covered for around 20 minutes. The process can be a lot faster if you’re using tools like French Press. The tea can be drunk immediately after straining, or you can cool it and drink it later.
What are Decoctions?
Decoctions are basically simmered teas, and they’re more suitable for harder herbs like roots, barks, medicinal mushrooms and hard seeds.
For making a decoction, put your herbs in water and bring the water to boil in a stainless steel pot. Cover the pot and let the tea simmer for about half an hour. After simmering, your tea will be ready. Take off the lid, strain, and enjoy.
If you’re making a tea that requires both infusion and decoction then all you need to do is add the herbs after you have turned off the heat for the decocted herbs.
The herbs used in Decoctions can be reused as long as long as they still yield a strong taste. If you plan to reuse your decocted herbs then place them in the fridge between decoctions to prevent microbial growth.
How to Measure Proportions of Decoctions and Herbal Infusions
There are two main methods for measuring the proportions for decoctions and herbal infusions.
This is a general principle that is based on measuring by volume rather measurement by weight. It is suitable for making regular teas, but it should not be used when making herbal teas which may have strong side effects.
In this method you will need 1 teaspoon of dried herbs or herbal formula and 2 teaspoons of fresh tea leaves for 8 ounces of water. Of course this isn’t a strictly specific measure as different herbs have different surface areas, and densities.
Another technique is to add a handful of herbs in one quart of water. Normally a daily dose contains around 3-4 cups of tea.
Once you become familiar with the herbs you won’t even need these measurements, you’ll be able to thrown in a blend of herbs without even thinking. It becomes second nature.
Weight method is more reliable than the folk method as it uses specific measurements. The rule of brewing by the weight method is to use 3-5 grams of herbs for every 8 ounces of water. The dosage is typically 8 ounces (one cup) of tea typically three times a day. The dosage of herbs may fluctuate depending upon the herbs that you use. Note that if you want to use different herbs in the formula then decrease the weight of each individual herb.
When preparing medicinal tea, you should research the dosage of the herbs that you will be using roughly. Another important thing that you will need to know before preparing tea is each individual’s constituency. If the person for whom the tea is being prepared for is weak then you’ll need a smaller dosage. Stronger people will need a higher dosage.
Start by experimenting with single herbs to familiarize yourself with each herbs unique aroma and taste, and of course your own constituency.
Determining Dosage for Children by Weight
For determining a Child’s Dosage, you’ll need to do a bit of Math. Follow the following steps:
- Assume that the adult dosage is for a 150 lbs. adult.
- Divide the child’s weight in lbs. by 150 lbs.
- Multiply the answer you get by the recommended adult dosage.
Assume your child weighs 50 lbs. By performing the calculations mentioned in the process above, you’ll see that she’ll need 1/3rd of the recommended adult dosage for a 150 lbs. adult.
Say if the adult dosage is one three droppers full of tea, then she will need 1/3rd of that dose i.e. one dropper full.
A Final Note
While herbal teas have many benefits, some of them have strong side effects as well, so don’t forget to read up the herbs that you will be using before making a medicinal tea. Many herbs are generally used as food and they are safe to use such as violet, chickweed, nettles, hibiscus, rosehips, burdock and hawthorn. But other herbs are more pungent and should be used more carefully in smaller dosages like cayenne, clove, and black pepper.
If you want to combine pharmaceuticals with your teas than be sure to consult your physicians before starting anything as that may lead to adverse reactions.
For regular medicinal blends, Experiment, and use your sense and intuition to find out what will work best for you. Different teas work for different people, find out what works for you.