Tuesday, January 4, 2011

How to Brew your Medicinal Tea: A Quick Refresher!

I include these instructions with every herb purchase from my shop.  It's the quick version to get the most benefit out of herbs for those who are just starting out.

Suggested dosage: Begin with one teaspoon of herb per cup of water, then adjust for taste and effect desired. As some herbs do not fall to the bottom, we recommend using a tea baller or cheesecloth.

To get the most out of your medicinal tea, use fresh and cold, spring or distilled water.

To change the flavor, herbs may be blended with other herbal teas, such as peppermint, fennel, lemon balm, etc. without loss of potency. Any unprocessed sweetener can also be used in your tea, such as honey, maple sugar, stevia, etc. For maximum benefit, we do not recommend white or brown sugar.

Herbs, Leaves, and Flowers (Infusion or Tisane)

Measure out herb into cup or pot. Heat water in kettle. Pour into teapot or cup as soon as it begins to boil. Place saucer or lid over tea for 5 to 10 minutes for proper infusion. Drink immediately.

Hard Barks, Roots, and Berries (Decoction)

We recommend dedicating a small saucepan as your herb pot. It must be non-metallic, as metal will react with your brewing herb. A glass or enamel pan is best. Bring water to a boil, then drop in your herb. Turn down heat. Let simmer for 10-20 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of the herb. Drink immediately. For the quicker version, add herbs to pot, bring to boil, then immediately turn off burner and let cool.  Works best if you are brewing a bigger batch and are going to finish the rest of the concoction over a day or two and can therefore afford to let it sit.

To make enough for several days:

Use the same amount of water as for a single serving but double or triple the amount of herb and brew as usual. Place in glass or ceramic container, never metal or plastic, and refrigerate. It will keep for about 3 days. To use, do not reheat but add several teaspoons as desired to juice, herbal teas, and other natural beverages.
One can be very creative with herbs, and many forms of ingestion exist. I know many who eat both fresh and dried herbs for the medicinal benefits, sometimes as food, infused in oils, make into candies and treats, brewed into alcohol, or just straight out of a bag! Sometimes it's easier to incorporate herbs in your lifestyle by making only a very few changes. For example, putting the fresh, dried, or ground herbs in your espresso maker or your French press coffee machine gets a significant amount of the herbs' water-soluble components in your ordinary daily brew! (I currently have Horsetail and Ginseng in my special blend. If you come to my house for coffee, ask for regular grind.) It doesn't work so well in the drip kinds, of course.

Herbs have been our primary form of medicine for thousands of years, and humans have gotten very creative with them. They can be so easy to use, and can provide such great benefits! It requires so very little effort; you simply have no excuse not to discover how easily herb use can integrate into your lifestyle!