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.
Brewing and sipping tea is nurturing to your 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.)
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.
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.
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.
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 in fully boiled water.
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- These plant parts 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.
If you enjoy blending and mixing, you may enjoy making your own herbal teas.
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!
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