Healing Herbal Tea
Healing Herbal Tea

Herbal teas and infusions, rich in a wide array of essential vitamins, minerals and beneficial medicinal compounds, have been used for centuries to comfort, soothe and heal.  Depending on the individual plant and the part of the plant being used, you’ll want to apply the appropriate steeping method to ensure that you get the most out of your preparation.  At Community Pharmacy and Community Wellness Shop in Middleton, you’ll find a wide variety of high-quality, dried herbs, as well as plenty of advice on how to choose what’s right for you.

The Basics:  There are a few things you can do to create the perfect herbal water extraction.  

  • If using chlorinated or unfiltered water, boil it for ten minutes to help reduce impurities.  Boiling the water in a non-metallic pot is ideal to prevent any leaching (be sure to avoid aluminum pots altogether). 
  • Mare sure to always cover the pot or jar you use for steeping herbs to prevent beneficial compounds from escaping in the steam or reacting with oxygen.  
  • To strain your preparation, a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth both work well.   
  • Herbal water extractions should be stored in the refrigerator and consumed within 24-48 hours.  

dried flowers for teaTEA: Water Extraction for Fragrant Herbs, Seeds and Delicate Flowers

Tea is the most expedient method of water extraction.  Teas are medicinally beneficial when steeping fragrant herbs such as peppermint, and delicate flowers like chamomile.  The herb-to-water ratio when preparing tea is 1 T dried herb/cup of water (if fresh herbs are used, double the amount).  Teas require steeping time of only 10-20 minutes.  Seeds, like fennel, should be steeped for 30 minutes.

steeping herbsINFUSION:  Water Extraction for Leaves, Stems and Hearty Flowers

Leaves, such as those from dandelion, and heartier flowers like hibiscus, should steep for longer.  Most medicinal infusion recipes recommend drinking 1-4 cups of infusion throughout the day. To make a quart of infusion, place 1 oz (approximately 1 cup) of dried herb in a quart mason jar, fill the jar to the top with boiling water (if using a pint jar, halve the amounts).  Cap tightly and let steep 4-8 hours (or overnight if you want to extract the mineral content of herbs like oatstraw or nettle).  

LONG INFUSION:  Water Extraction for Roots and Barks

Roots, such as ginger, and barks like pau d’arco, are very dense and require a longer method of water extraction.  Place 2 oz (approximately ½ c) of dried herb in a quart mason jar, and fill the jar to the top with boiling water. Cap tightly and steep for 8-10 hours.  


DECOCTION:  Quicker Water Extraction for Roots and Barks

An alternative method to long infusions for tougher plant materials, a decoction also ensures a through water extraction.  Use 1-2 oz (¼-½ c) of dried herb to one quart water in a pot, bring to a boil and simmer 10-20 minutes before straining.

marshmallow root

Some herbs, such as those rich in mucilage like marshmallow root and slippery elm bark, are better suited to cold water extraction.  Place 2 oz (approx ½ c) of dried herb in a quart mason jar and fill the jar to the top with cold water. Cap tightly and steep for 8-10 hrs. 

Adapted from Community Pharmacy materials prepared by Emily Light (12/04)

Tags: Decoctions , Herbal Tea , Infusions

Posted in: Herbs , Natural Home & Garden