How to Make Herbal Tea for Health and Pleasure

By Val Silver

how to make herbal tea for health and pleasure

It is a breeze to make herbal tea for health and pleasure. Readily available bags and quality organic loose tea herbs make tea preparation fun and easy, too. 

Mindfully brewing and sipping tea is one of life's pleasures, nurturing to body, soul and spirit. Not only that, but when your herbs are chosen with health in mind, they connect you with Mother Nature's most natural medicine.

Tea Trivia: Tea comes from the Camellia sinensis, or tea plant. Varieties include oolong, green, white and black, depending on whether the leaves are fermented and for how long. Herbal brews are called infusions or tisanes. (But just about everyone calls them tea.)

Types of Herbal Tea

In the tea world, herbs are technically not tea. That honor falls solely to camellia sinensis. However, in the herb world, camellia is one among many herbs. Many of the medicinal herbs can be brewed as tea.

You can choose single herb teas or a variety of combination blends suited to your tastes and health needs.  Prepared blends of two to several herbs are often named for their the intended use. Tension Tamer, Smooth Moves (for constipation), and Wise Woman Tea (for menopause) are a few examples. 

Match your symptoms and desired results for stress and symptom relieving benefits. Keep in mind that herbs may have mild or strong effects. Some act immediately, but many take weeks of regular use before you realize desired effects. If you are on medication, have a serious health condition, or have a pending medical procedure, consult the herbal profile for possible interactions and safety before using herbs. For example, gingko biloba is great for blood flow and circulation, a good thing, except when taken in the weeks before surgery. 

How to Prepare a Good Cup of Tea

Follow these guidelines to make herbal tea with the best taste and most health benefits. 

The first decision is which types of herbal tea to choose. There are so many delicious, healthy herbs to choose from. Then you need to choose whether to use loose herbs or herbs already packaged in serving sized bags or brewing cups. 

Bagged herb teas and brewing cups are a wonderful convenience. Making tea doesn't get any easier than this. Purchase from a reputable brand such as Traditional Medicinals, Yogi Tea, Celestial Seasoning, Mountain Rose Herbs (and others).  Keep a supply of your favorites in your purse, kitchen, and work space for whenever the urge 'for a cuppa' strikes. 

Organic loose tea and herbs cost less per ounce than individual bags and may be of better quality.

When possible, buy organic tea (and coffee) to avoid herbicides, pesticides and other contaminants. Also look for fair trade brands that support sustainability and a fair wage for farmers and harvesters.

Brewing Guidelines

Making tea is more art than science. Times and temperature are not exact when you make herbal tea unless you are a tea connoisseur (I'm not). If you enjoy the result, you've done it right for you. 

The simplest guideline is: Follow the directions on the package. Each plant and plant part requires different brewing times and methods. 

Always use fresh, pure water when you make herbal tea. Use stainless steel, enamel, glass, or china. Never heat water in aluminum or plastic to avoid metal and chemical leaching. Yuck.

In our hurried world, tea is often served in a disposable cup or a mug. Once in a while treat yourself to tea in a china cup. Sit, relax and sip. 

Bagged Green Tea, Black Tea, and Herbal Tea

Follow these directions or the directions on the packaging:

Green Tea, Flowery Herbs: Heat fresh, pure water to almost simmering, 160 degrees Fahrenheit or so. Steep green tea for 2-3 minutes. Steeping too long may bring out the bitter flavor. Herbs need to steep for 5-10 minutes. Cover your cup to keep aromatic beneficial volatile oils from escaping in the steam. 

Oolong, Semi-fermented, Most Herbal Blends: Heat water to between 180-195 degrees Fahrenheit.

Heavy Black teas and Herbals with Roasted Ingredients: Release the flavors and beneficial constituents by steeping for a 2-3 minutes in fully boiled water.

Loose Herb Teas and Infusions

To make herbal tea from loose herbs, use about a heaping teaspoon per cup of water. For one cup, it is easiest to steep the herbs in a mesh basket right in your cup. 

For larger servings, a French press, or tea pot with an infuser works well. For precision temperatures, which vary by the type of tea you are drinking, electric kettles with temperature control make brewing a breeze. You can also steep your herbs in a pot or glass jar. Strain before drinking. 

Hard stems, bark, berries, roots, seeds, twigs require special treatment in order to release their essence. You need to make a decoction, which is a fancy word for boiling and simmering the parts in water.

Here are general directions. Put the herbal material in a pot and cover with fresh water. Bring water to a boil, then simmer for 10-20 minutes until water reduces by one-third. Strain and drink. These parts can often be decocted 2-3 times, although each brew will be weaker than the previous one. Consult specific directions for the correct ratio of herb to water. Don't worry about this if these parts are in a blend. Just follow the directions on the package.

Infusions of herbs, such as nettles and oatstraw, extract vitamins and minerals from nutritive herbs. They use much larger quantities than tea and require hours-long steeping times. Get the directions here.

How to make herbal tea blends

If you enjoy blending and mixing, you may enjoy making your own herbal teas. 

  • Use recipes if you are new to blending herbs. Look for recipes with tea and herbs you like and/or support your health. I like chai for this reason. Different varieties contain black, green or rooibos tea with a complement of healthful spices such as cardamom, ginger, and cloves.
  • Want to make your own blend? Choose herbs you like and/or herbs that meet your health needs. Mix as many or as few as you like. A good guideline is 2-5 different herbs. Choose your main herb, such as chamomile, yerba mate or red rooibos flavored with organic vanilla for a yummy rich taste. To really bring out the flavors, add a pinch of stevia or honey. 
  • Choose herbs with a synergistic effect. These herbs work together, not against each other. For example, blend  stress-relieving herbs such as chamomile and/or linden with an adaptogenic herb such as holy basil or licorice. 
  • Choose wildcrafted or organic loose herbs whenever possible for the most health benefits and to avoid chemical contaminants. This is especially important if you drink a lot of tea.
  • Speaking of flavor, a little stevia or honey really brings out the taste  in herbal teas and helps medicinal herbs taste better. Some blends already contain stevia. If you are making your own herbal tea blends, add a little right to your mix.

Whether you make herbal tea from a bag, tincture, ready made blend, or capsule, or you make your own herbal tea from scratch, enjoying a cup or more a day is one of life's pleasures you can feel really good about enjoying.  By all means sit down and enjoy sipping your brew throughout the day. Enjoy a few deep breaths and mindful moments before picking the pace back up. Your mind and body will thank you.

Herbal tea benefits are not limited to targeted specific needs. Herbs in general bestow many health benefits depending on the compounds they contain. For example, chai tea containing ginger, cloves, cardamom provide anti-oxidants as well as digestive and anti-inflammatory benefits. Chamomile tea helps you relax and settles a nervous tummy. Plus they provide much needed water. If you make herbal tea infusions and drink them on a regular basis, they will provide you with a steady supply of vitamins and minerals. They are good for you and yummy to drink!

For Educational Purposes Only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please consult with your health provider before using herbs or supplements if you are pregnant, nursing, or you are being treated for a medical condition. Be aware that certain herbs interact with medications.

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Make Herbal Tea page updated 12/2020

For Educational Purposes Only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult with your health provider before using natural remedies and/or complementary therapies if you are pregnant, nursing, or you are being treated for a medical condition. Be aware that certain herbs and supplements interact with medications.

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