Tea began as medicine
& grew into a beverage.
- Okakura Kakuzo - (Japanese medical scholar)
What is medicine?
The purest & most simple way to experience the healing power of herbs is through the act of making tea.
There are a few points of guidance that will help you to discern which herbs to use for teas and how to use them. Firstly, there are two basic types of tea making:
Infusion is the most well known and works well for light aerial parts of herbs, such as leaves, petals, and stems. The minerals and medicinal compounds these herbs have are most easily and effectively extracted into water. Add about a teaspoon of herb per cup of boiled water and allow to infuse for 5-10minutes. With more bitter herbs, like mugwort or hops, allow to infuse for about 3 minutes.
Decoction is better suited for heartier herbs, roots, berries and mushrooms. Because these parts are more dense, they need a greater extraction method. Bring water to a boil, add about a teaspoon of herbs per cup of water, and allow to simmer for 10-20 minutes. If you’re using particular dense herbs, consider using a crockpot and cooking similarly to a broth overnight.
Cold water extraction
As in all things, there is an exception to the rule. While hot water is most often the go-to for extraction, there are times cold water is preferable. If you are looking to make a tea to heal irritated mucosal tissue, you will want to use herbs that have a high mucilaginous quality to them. In herbal medicine, we call this quality demulscent. Some examples are marshmallow root, plantain, and slippery elm. With these gooey gems, you will want to combine cool water and a tbsp of herb/cup in a jar overnight. Patience and time is required to extract the healing goodness.