Monthly Archives: December 2007

Preparing Herbal Teas

 ~ written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, Medical Herbalist

So you are interested in incorporating plant medicine into your lifestyle and are wondering where to begin…

For individuals who are just beginning to use herbs medicinally; preparing and drinking herbal teas are excellent first steps in familiarizing oneself with plant medicine.

When preparing an herbal tea for medicinal use, there are two types of preparations: infusions and decoctions.

Herbal Infusions

Herbal Infusions are similar to preparing a pot of earl grey tea. Simply pour boiling water over the herbs and steep, strain and drink. This process is used for preparing the more delicate and aromatic parts of a plant, such as the flowers, leaves, fruit, and aromatic seeds. An infusion is best when preparing an herbal tea for its high nutritional (mineral and vitamin) content.

General Adult Dosage: The general measurement for an adult when preparing herbal teas is 1 tsp. of the herb for every cup of water, steep for 15 minutes, strain then drink 3-4 cups of the tea daily.

Method 1. Place the herbs in a container with a tight fitting lid and pour freshly boiled water over the herbs. Cover the container and allow it to steep for 10-20 minutes. The length of sitting time depends upon the chemical constituents in the plant.

Method 2. Let the tea steep overnight and reheat in the morning. Never use a microwave to heat the water or reheat a tea, instead gently reheat on the stove. Storing the tea in the fridge and reheating or storing in a thermos in a convenient way of keeping the tea hot for hours.

Herbal Decoctions

Decoctions are generally used for the extraction of chemicals from heavier plant material (roots, barks, nuts, and non-aromatic seeds). A decoction is more concentrated than an infusion and used to pull out mineral salts and bitter principles of the plants.

Method 1. Bring the water to a boil, add the herbs, cover and simmer gently over low heat, for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat, strain and drink.

Method 2. Add the herbs to cold water, place over low heat and slowly bring to a boil. Simmer gently over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, keeping the lid on. These herbs can be reused 2 or 3 times before discarding.

Important Tip: Always use glass or enamel containers and do not use microwaves, aluminum or cast iron pots as they will affect the quality and effectiveness of the prepared medicine.

For more information on herbal medicine, preparation and home use visit my website by clicking here and for ongoing encouragement, health tips, recipes and up to date information on herbal medicine, sign up for my newsletter Taking Charge of Your Health.