Making Herbal Infusions
I recommend making infusions, not herbal teas. Herbal teas are when you steep the herbs for 3-5 minutes to enjoy the flavors of wonderful herbal plants. Infusions are when you steep the herbs for at least 3-4 hours, covered in a quart canning jar. I recommend steeping them overnight in the canning jar or the pot you boiled the water in, covered. You can strain the herbs in the AM and reheat the infusion, oh so very gently to preserve the nutrients, or enjoy at room temperature.
Making Infusions: Boil water. Measure leaf and flower herbs while water is heating. Use approximately 1 tablespoon of dried herbs per cup of water. To make a stronger medicinal infusion, use more herbs. When water is boiling shut off and add dried herbs. Cover and let steep for at least 15 minutes. I make medicinal infusions at night so I can let the infusion sit, covered, overnight to make a deeply infusied and strong medicinal tea. In the AM, strain and bottle.
If making infusions with seeds, roots, or barks (this is actually called a decoction): chop pieces as small as you can (roots & bark, seeds stay whole or you can gently crush). When water is boiling, reduce heat to very gentle simmer. Add herb pieces, cover, and simmer very gently for 15-20 minutes. Again, I let the infusion sit, covered, overnight to make the strongest medicnal infusion I can. I then strain and bottle in the AM. Do not let this boil as it ruins the medicinal properties and nutrients in the herbal infusions medicine.
When using these hard parts of herbs it is a minimum of 1 tsp. per cup of water. I generally use closer to 1 TBSP. per cup of water.
If you are making mixed infusions with hard parts that need to simmer and the leaves & flowers that do not need simmering: simmer the hard parts first. Turn off heat. Add leaves / flowers and let steep, covered, overnight. Strain in the AM.
I recommend making a quart each night and sipping 1 cup, 3-4 times throughout the day, each day. I usually make ½ gallon to 1 gallon at a time so I do not have to make medicinal infusions every night. You can drink it cold (keep in the refrigerator) or you can gently re-warm. I usually fill a quart canning jar, with the cold tea from the fridge, then I leave the quart jar on the counter overnight to enjoy at room temp. When re-warming the tea do not over heat it. Never boil the pre-made tea. Do not make tea, heat tea water, or re-heat tea in a microwave.
High Mineral tea: restores minerals to the body cells (Think bone health) that have been depleted from refined foods, toxins, stress, and life as we know it. Stinging nettles, oat straw, alfalfa leaf, red raspberry leaf, mullein leaf, and comfrey* leaf are all good for helping with restoring the body's minerals and as a bonus the tea will help with constipation (the extra fluid, from drinking the warm infusion, is dandy as well!)
Vary the herbs you use to make the tea. Use 3-4 different herbs for each batch you make. Always use nettles and either mullein or comfrey. Vary the other 2 herbs every batch.
If using mineral supportive prepared tea formulas: IF tea bags are glued shut, do not use them in bag form. To avoid steeping the glue into your tea, I suggest you open the tea bags and steep the loose herbs in a jar for 3-4 hours or overnight. Follow the infusion instructions above.
To learn more about using herbs to enhance your return to vibrant health, join my eCourse: Herbs For Natural Health: making your own herbal medicines & herbs for specific body system nourishment.
Note: When making tea out of tea leaves, black-green-white teas, you do not want to steep them for long times and certainly not over night. Generally 3-5 minutes steeping them in a closed pot or covered tea cup is enough. Longer steeping can create bitter teas. If you wish to blend your tea leaf teas with herbal infusions, it is best to make the infusions separately. After straining your tea made from actual tea leaves, add the gently re-heated herb infusions to the tea leaf teas. Mix them to the proportion you like for the taste you are looking for: 1/3 tea to 2/3 herbal infusion, 1/2 to 1/2, etc. Figure out what works for you flavor wise and perhaps caffeine wise.
Check out Shelby Connelly (Five Elements Living Acupuncture & Retreat Center in Northern NY) and I as we chat about tea and having girly fun. Making Tea in the New Kitchen at Five Elements Living
*Comfrey is a very safe herb for human consumption. Susun Weed, a internationally known herbal educator and Wise Woman Healer, wrote this post on the safety of Comfrey.