Written February 2016
My Grandmother would always have a cup a tea with her breakfast and with lunch. If I wasn’t feeling well she would make me a cup of tea with lemon and honey. I have fond memories of sitting at the table sipping on a cup of orange pekoe. Smelling the steam as it wafted up my nose and feeling the warm cup between my hands. A feeling of security and of being loved.
Teas have a long and rich history. Today it is the second most consumed beverage in the world. There are different methods of brewing herbal teas.
+ Infusion & Tisane
+ Solar & Lunar Infusions
+ Decoction/Infusion Combo
Infusions (are also called Tisanes) is used when brewing up the delicate parts of the plant. If you buy your teas prepackaged you won’t have to determine what method is needed. Some roots can be infused and some roots need to be decocted. Learning about the individual herb will help you to determine which method is best. When making infusions there are three methods employed. For infusions use 1-3 teaspoons of herb per 1 cup of water.
1) I use a mason jar for the next three methods. When making for leisurely pleasure place the herb in a jar or container of choice. Pour boiling water over herbs and cover. Allow to infuse for 10-20 minutes.
2) The medicinal method you follow the same instructions as above but allow it to infuse for 30-60 minutes.
3) Steeping overnight gives the herbs the longest amount of time to extract the plant constituents. I like using this method when wild harvesting fresh herbs to drink as a tonic.
Solar & Lunar Infusions use light as the source from the sun or moon. Each offer different energies and distinctively different flavored infusions. Solar infusion gently heats the herbs. Still used today by many tea drinkers and often referenced as “Sun Tea”. Lunar makes a more gentle infusion with a more delicate flavor harnessing the essence of the moon.
1) Solar: Some pour boiling water over the herbs first and then set out to allow the sunrays to continue infusing. I much prefer just allowing the energy of the sun to gently heat the tea infusion.
2) Lunar: Is best done when the moon is new or full. This can be done two ways. Put herbs in an open glass bowl (do not cover it) or put in a clear jar and seal with a lid. The moonlight is cooling and gentle and imparts a delicate infusion. This infusion is normally consumed first thing upon rising.
Decoctions are generally used for brewing roots, barks, nuts, and seeds. A few roots meet the exception of being decocted such as Valerian and Golden Seal should be infused. Because the herbs used for this method tend to be so concentrated you can use them several times before composting. There are three methods on decoction. For decoctions use 1-2 tablespoons per 1 cup of water.
1) Bring the water to a boil, add the herbs and gently simmer for 15-20 minutes. Keep a lid on at all times to trap in vital nutrients.
2) Add the herbs to the water and slowly bring to a boil. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. Again, keep the lid on.
3) You can use either method above. After removing from heat, let it sit out overnight with the lid on.
Decoction/Infusion Combo is for when you need to combine two methods for medicinal benefits.
1) If you purchase a tea blend that is already pre-blended I would use option one from the decoction info above.
2) If you are making your own blend. First decoct the roots using any method above. After removing from the heat add the delicate herb portion to the hot decoction and put the lid back on and allow to infuse for as long as desired.
When making medicinal teas it is easiest to make a big batch up for the day. If making for pleasure, only make what you will consume in 1-2 days and be sure to refrigerate.
Dosage will vary depending on purpose. For problems that are chronic (reoccurring or persistent in nature). Drink 3-4 cups daily for up to 4 months. One day a week alternate with a different tea blend. For problems that are acute such as a fever or menstrual cramps. Drink ¼ cup every half hour until symptoms subside. Drinking in smaller dosages and frequently is the most effective remedy for acute situations.
It is enticing to use pre-blends but I strongly encourage you try herbs individually to get to know the herb personally. Some have a strong flavor but I have found over time I have acquired a taste for the more bitter herbs and appreciate the many benefits that comes with them. If given the chance I think you may surprise yourself and discover your palate broadening its taste.
I hope you come back and share your experience or favorite tea blends.