The art of brewing an herbal tea
The art of brewing herbal tea has been considered a noble and valuable skill since time immemorial. Properly prepared herbs helped against many ailments, cured diseases and contributed to maintaining good health and well-being. Nowadays, knowledge about herbs and how to prepare them is no longer "a secret", and anyone can take some of this knowledge with a little good will.
Easiest way to make your own herbal tea
Use 1-2 teaspoons of the dried herb and pour over 2 ½ dl of boiling or warm water. Leave covered, so that the essential oils found in almost all plants are not volatilized unnecessarily. Let the tea brew for about 5 -15 minutes (depending on the herb). When the plant has finished brewing, strain the tea. Drink up to 3 cups of herbal tea per day, morning, noon and night (unless otherwise stated). Feel free to drink in small sips and remember to take a break between sips, so that the active substances can work.
If you buy dried herbs or herbal mixtures, always look at the dosage and follow the instructions!
I could end the post here, but brewing an herbal tea involves much more than just that..
The method of brewing herbal tea depends primarily on which parts of the plant we use. We should treat hard roots, seeds or bark differently than more delicate parts of plants – such as herbs, leaves or flowers.
Remember that the result we get is also affected by other factors - such as water temperature and its quality, type of vessel used and brewing time. When infusing herbs, it is recommended to use soft, low-mineralized water (with the lowest possible calcium and magnesium content) and, above all, fresh water. It is better to choose ceramic or glass vessels, avoid preparing the herbal tea in aluminum pots, because herbs react with metals and change their properties. The exceptions are stainless steel and enamelled barrels. In addition, it is recommended to infuse herbs under a lid, so that the essential oils do not volatilize unnecessarily. To make your tea easier, you can make a larger amount of tea and store it in a thermos.
Herbal tea for a medicinal purpose
It is also worth remembering that herbal tea is a therapeutic tea that is drunk for a limited time for a medicinal purpose. A herbal tea is usually a kurte and it should be drunk for 14 days unless otherwise stated. The authors Pelle Holmberg et al. (2017) in his book "Wild plants" writes about therapeutic teas and companion teas. They believe that too long use of therapeutic tea can cause side effects and a better alternative is to drink a so-called companion tea. A companion tea is often made on leaves of plants and it can be raspberries, strawberries but also black currants and on flowers and leaves of fruit trees such as apple, pear and cherry. You can also mix several varieties.
What is the difference between infusion and decoction?
In the traditional recipes, the terms decoction or infusion usually appear. But many people do not really understand the difference between the two words.
The infusion is made by pouring boiling water over the crushed herb and then filtering it. Infusions are usually made from the parts of the plant such as leaves, flowers and small seeds, i.e. from the parts that can be easily extracted. Infusions, commonly called herbal teas, are best left covered for about 5-15 minutes so they brew well and don't lose essential oils.
Decoctions are intended for plant parts from which it is difficult to extract active ingredients - such as bark, roots, rhizomes, stems or thick seeds. Preparing a good decoction is more time-consuming. Pour hot or cold water over the previously crushed raw material and then cook it on low heat for a long time. The cooking time depends on the indications for a given raw material - it can take from 10 to 40 minutes. The decoction can also be successfully used for those parts of plants from which an infusion can be prepared by default, but doing the opposite, that is, preparing an infusion from hard parts of plants that require longer processing time, is a disastrous shortcut that involves the loss of the raw material. If there are no obvious contraindications, some herbs can be combined in an infusion or decoction, which can then enhance their effect. However, you should be careful and use common sense in this regard. Herbs contain many, and sometimes even hundreds, of active substances that can interact with each other, so before use you should seek professional advice and check which herbs work synergistically in combination and which weaken their effects.
Let's take care of our safety, because herbs, like anything that is not used according to its intended purpose, can also be harmful! First of all, do not use herbs whose origin and name are unknown, as well as those that are old or moldy. Each herb has its own individual character and specific recommendations on how to prepare and take it, which should be followed. Remember that herbs can have strong effects.
1. Pelle Holmberg, Marie-Louise Eklöfand Ingrid Holmberg (2017) "Wild plants-for food, spice and better health" Livonia Print Ltd
2.Ewa Lis (2017) "5 most popular ways to brew herbs". Magiczny ogrod blog. September 14, 2017. https://blog.magicznyogrod.pl/artykuly/5-najpopularniejszych-sposobow-na-zaparzanie-ziol/. Retrieved 13.09.2023