Making Herbal Tea

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					                               Making Herbal Tea
                                 By Kami McBride

Drinking tea provides an easy way for your body to assimilate the healing
properties of herbs. The word tea is a general term for extracting herbs into
water. Most people think of tea as putting a teabag into a cup and pouring boiling
water over it. That is a fine beverage, however using loose herbs and being more
specific about your tea making techniques gives you a more medicinal strength

Infusion and decoction are both methods of making tea. The infusion method of
making tea is best used when your tea contains the more delicate part of a plant
such as the flowers, leaves, soft stems, and herbs containing aromatic volatile
oils. The decoction method of making tea is best when using the hard and woody
part of a plant such as most roots and bark.

Making an Infusion
This is the best method when using flowers, leaves, soft stems and aromatic
1) Chop, crush or bruise the herbs. If the herbs are fresh, cut them into small
pieces with a knife, scissors or garden clippers. If the herbs are dried, you can
crush them briefly in a mortar and pestle or just bruise them between your fingers
2) Put four tablespoons of dried herb or eight tablespoons of fresh herb into a
one quart container. I like to use quart glass juice jars. Glass juice jars don’t
break as readily as mason jars and they are easy to carry around with you. You
can also make your infusion in mason jars, glass infusion pots and earthen,
enamel or porcelain tea pots
3) Pour one quart of boiling water over the herbs. Put the lid on the container and
let the herbs steep for thirty minutes to several hours. Most seeds and berries
only need about thirty minutes whereas some leaves such as nettles can be
infused for up to three or four hours
4) Strain the herbs from the infusion. Either leave the herbs in the pot and drink
the infusion over the course of the day (it is never strained this way) or use a tight
weave metal strainer and pour the infusion through it to catch the herb material.
Put the left over used herbs in your garden bed or compost pile. Drink the
infusion at room temperature or warm it up in a pot on the stove

Your infusion will last twelve hours to two days, depending on which plants are
used and the level of heat and sun they are exposed to. Infusions should be
stored in a cool dry place, however when you are going about your day that is not
always possible. If the infusion is in the heat just know that it is only good for that
day. Smell the infusion when it is fresh so you can detect the difference in the
smell that develops as it starts to go bad.
It is not really practical to make your infusion in a tea cup. Most tea cups don’t
have lids and you loose some of the medicinal qualities when you don’t cover
your infusion. Also for this amount of steeping time, it is just more practical to
make several cups at once. I like being able to pour the boiling water into a quart
jar and take it with me wherever I go during the day. I just let it sit in my purse
and after it has steeped for a couple of hours I start sipping on it and do this
throughout the day. Many times I don’t even strain the herb out. Drinking from a
clear jar filled with herbs is a great conversation starter. “What is it that you are
The decoction method of making a tea is best for when you use the hard and
woody part of a plant such as most roots and bark. These plant parts need more
heat in order to be extracted into water.
1) Follow step one for infusions
2) Place herbs into an earthenware, porcelain, glass or stainless steel pot
3) Pour cool or room temperature water over the herbs. Place the lid on the pot
4 Turn stove on medium heat and bring the water to a boil. Once it comes to a
boil, turn the heat down to low and let simmer for ten to forty five minutes
5) Let the mixture cool and then strain the herbs from the tea

Sometimes a recipe will call for plants that need to be decocted and plants that
need to be infused. This is what you can do in that situation:

1) Use the infusion method for all of the herbs and just let them steep for a longer
amount of time to account for the herbs that need to be decocted
2) Start by decocting all of the herbs in the recipe that need to be decocted and
then once you have turned off the heat, add the more delicate and aromatic
plants and let everything steep for thirty minutes. Then strain everything out.

Kami McBride has taught herbal medicine and women’s health since 1988. She
is the director of Cultivating the Herbal Medicine Woman Within, an experiential
herbal studies program where women are inspired to reclaim their heritage as
herbalists and healers.       Kami is the author of 105 Ways to Celebrate
Menstruation that is available on Kami teaches Women’s Wisdom
workshops for women to experience optimum health in relation to their body
cycles. For a schedule of upcoming classes or for an herbal consultation Kami
can be reached at (707) 446-1290 or sign up for her free herbal enewsletter at:

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