Nov 12, 2012


      To brew a tea of fresh or dried leaves or blossoms, use 1 to 2 teaspoons dry herb or 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh herb per cup of water.

    Bring the water to a boil, pour it over the herbs, cover the teapot or container with a lid and let it stand undisturbed for 10 minutes.

    This type of tea is called an infusion. Some plants are so delicate that herbalists recommend using cold instead of hot water, a brewing process that requires several hours. To make a cold-water infusion, shred or chop the plant material before placing it in a small but roomy muslin bag or folded cotton handkerchief. Tie the fabric with string so that the herbs don't escape, but leave enough space inside for water to circulate.

     Dampen the herbs with cold water as you fill a quart jar, and when you close the jar, suspend the bag near the top. Leave the jar undisturbed overnight. As plant material is extracted by the water, solids fall to the bottom of the jar, creating a rising current that moves through the herbs. This is the most effective type of cold infusion you can make.

       Alternatively, simply mix plant material with cold water in any container and let it stand overnight. In the morning, strain the tea and heat it slightly, just enough to warm it, before serving. To brew a decotion (boiled tea) from roots, bark or other hard, woody material, use the quantities given above and place the herbs and cold water in a stainless steel pan, cover and heat to the boiling point. Lower the heat, simmer the tea for 10 to 15 minutes, then remove from heat and let stand another 5 minutes before straining and serving.

     Medicinal herbs can be sweetened with honey to improve their taste, or you can add flavors such as black cherry concentrate or fresh ginger or a pinch of stevia, the sweet herb widely used as a sugar substitute. Most herbalists recommend taking medicinal teas straight, with no added flavors or sweeteners. Add a pinch of unrefined, unprocessed sea salt to herbal teas when treating sinus or chest congestion or a sore throat.