Steep leaves and flowers in hot water! It is that easy. Always use a glass, enameled, or stainless steel pot when making tea. Never make herbal teas in an aluminum container since aluminum can leech from the metal into your tea destroying taste and medicinal properties.
Should I drink herbal teas? Yes! Drinking herbal teas is the easiest way to benefit from herbal medicine on a daily basis. Not only are teas easy to prepare, they are quickly absorbed by the body. Even if you are not sick, herbal teas can build immunity and keep you healthy. Plus many of them taste delicious.
Where do I get herbal teas? Teas are readily available in grocery stores, health food stores, and markets. Herbal teas can be purchased already bagged or in loose-leaf form. Purchase blends of dried herbs or buy fresh plants like basil, rosemary, and sage and use them in your tea. Herbal teas come in all kinds of flavors and blends to suit every taste.
Use a variety of herbal teas morning, noon, and night to reap medicinal benefits.
Medicinal herbs for your teas can also be grown and used immediately or stored for winter use. The plants for making herbal tea may be harvested in the wild -- but be sure not to pick protected plants or plants that have been sprayed with harmful chemicals. Try different herbal teas until you find a few that you really like. My favorites are chamomile, spearmint, and burdock.
Herbal teas are useful all day long but especially in the mornings. Wake up with a cup of green tea and lemon juice. Burdock with lime is also good in the mornings. The antioxidants in the tea will help rid the body of toxins and the citrus will get digestive juices flowing.
Herbs can bring great healing and tea is an easy way to get the healing properties into your body. To make herbal tea, bring water to a boil, add leaves, turn heat off and steep for a few minutes. Use a tight fitting lid on the pot so essential oils don’t escape. Thick leaves like mullein and comfrey may need to be simmered. Fragile flowers like chamomile, rose, and calendula petals should NOT be simmered. Pour hot water over the flowers, strain into a cup, and sip slowly while inhaling the aroma. Cooking times, water temperature, and steeping are all things that you will learn with practice. Every herb is different -- if your tea is bitter, next time try a lower water temperature or steep for a shorter time period. It your tea is not strong enough, raise water temperature and steep longer.
Clean water is one of the most important things in life! When making medicinal teas, it is especially important to use the purest water you can find. For the best taste, use mountain spring water if possible. Well water, distilled water, and bottled waters are fine. Tap water will do if it is your only water source -- avoid using water that contains added chemicals like fluoride and chlorine.
Use herbal teas because they are easy to prepare, they taste good, and they work to heal and protect! Quality herbal teas are readily available in a variety of flavors and blends. Herbal tea blends are made out of dried plant material including leaves, flowers, seeds, berries, bark, stems, roots and tubers. Mint, basil, thyme, and other herbal teas are usually made from leaves. Jasmine and other floral teas are made from flower petals. Rose hip and juniper teas are made from seeds and berries. Cinnamon, white oak, and wild cherry teas come from the inner bark of trees. Dandelion tea can be made from the root, the leaves, or the flowers. Try single teas before experimenting with different blends. Most teas -- like mint and catnip -- are safe for children but some are not -- so do your research or consult a healthcare professional when treating children.
Herbal infusions contain healing properties and also work to flush toxins from the body. Prepare green leaves for tea by tearing instead of cutting with a knife or scissors. Scissors cut across cell membranes and destroy some of the plant's special properties. Cutting with sharp edges causes unnatural facets, loss of volatile essential oils, and reduced healing properties. Tear by hand instead of cutting or chopping. Dry leaves can be crumbled.
Herbs that are suitable for infusions include catnip, feverfew, borage, comfrey, dill, mullein, horehound, corn silk, mint, red clover, rosemary, sage, thyme, plantain, chickweed, cleavers, licorice, and bee balm. Treat herbal plant material gently. Mild tasting herbs like chamomile can become bitter if prepared at too high of a temperature.
Sometimes herbal teas are the only way to get the benefits of herbs into a weakened body. At first, give only a few sips at a time then gradually increase amount. If someone is too weak to drink water or tea and you don't know why, seek emergency help as soon as possible.
I use herbal teas throughout the day. Herbal teas do not have to be hot to be effective and delicious. If you like ice, cold herbal tea is very refreshing. To extract the most from your tea bag, steep in hot water, cool, then pour over ice.
Woody stems, roots, dried berries, seeds, and bark teas are called decoctions. Decoctions require a more vigorous method to extract the medicinal properties (higher heat and longer cooking time). Plant material should be crushed, mashed, or broken into small pieces. Boil for a few minutes and then simmer for up to 15 minutes. Some decoctions will be ready in five minutes depending on desired strength. Water will change color as decoction simmers. Make sure the pot is not aluminum and has a tight fitting lid. Strain into a pitcher or tea cup. Press plant material with the back of a spoon to extract more of the liquid.
Herbs suitable for decoctions include wild cherry bark, willow bark, cinnamon, dandelion root, yellowroot, ginger, ginseng, rose hips, and fennel seed.
Add mint, lemon peel, spices, stevia, licorice, or honey if desired to mask bitterness and improve taste of herbal teas. Quart batches may be prepared and then taken over a period of days. Many herbalists insist on reheating in a pan because they believe microwaves destroy healing properties. Sometimes herbal teas and decoctions are served cool or over ice. They are still potent. All infusions and decoctions should be discarded after two or three days when liquid starts to loose its potency.
Incorporate herbs into the diet throughout the day. Drink herbal teas whenever fatigue strikes. Try peppermint, ginger, cinnamon, ginseng, dandelion, nettle, milk thistle, plantain, red clover, rosemary, and fennel. Use catnip, bee balm, or valerian to calm the nerves during stressful situations.
What is the best way to consume herbal supplements? Tea or pills? Sarah Richards, owner of Homegrown Herb and Tea answers this question in the following video:
Make a quart of tea at one time. Just boil the water, add the plant material, and steep leaves for 3-15 minutes. Simmer stems, berries, or roots for up to thirty minutes. Strain and give the patient a dose every few hours throughout the day. Depending on herb and strength of tea, doses can be from one tablespoon to one cup of tea. Add honey and lemon to taste.
As bedtime approaches, it’s time for relaxing. Don’t exercise before bed or you won’t be able to sleep! Drink relaxing herbal teas like chamomile, wild lettuce, catnip, and bee balm. Warm baths can also help calm the mind and relax the muscles. Use lavender essential oil, rose essential oil, ylang-ylang essential oil, or jasmine essential oil in the bath for extra benefits. Herbal sachets are good to put under your pillow. For sweet dreams and a sound sleep try a combination of lavender, passion flower, and lemon balm.
After a week or two of drinking herbal teas, taking herbal baths, and using more herbs in the kitchen, your whole outlook should be brighter. Herbs, when used on a daily basis, can really improve our lives.
Teas, infusions, decoctions, extracts, syrups, tinctures, infused oils, infused wine, inhalants, poultices, plasters, compresses, ointments, creams, lotions, liniments, baths, capsules, tablets, powders, lozenges, enemas, suppositories, astringents, gargles, washes, rinses, and essential oils all have a purpose in herbal medicine. For a healthy mind, body, and spirit, use herbs on a daily basis. Read more about these other herbal delivery methods on our Lotions and potions page.
Photo of man drinking herbal tea -- courtesy of Pexels.com
Medicinal teas can be taken morning, noon, and night. This man drinks relaxing chamomile tea every evening.
* Herbs work with other medicines to boost their potency so always consult with your healthcare provider before using any herbal remedy especially if pregnant, nursing, or taking other medicines.
* Note - the information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
** Most of my posts in this blog were first published by the North Georgia News in my weekly column titled Every Green Herb.
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