Herbal medicinal teas

 

They are the most ancient form of herbal medicine. There are many simple ways of preparing medicinal herbs at home. Different preparations are best suited to different types of herbs and to certain types of health conditions. For example, hot infusions are used to prepare most dried herbs, but some delicate herbs must be prepared using a cold infusion to protect their active ingredients. Herbs are often used medicinally as a tea, but some health problems (such as pimples, eczema, sprains and headaches) also benefit from applying the herbs externally as a poultice, fomentation, or soaking with them in a bath. The information that follows will give you all the practical information you need for preparing the specific herbal recipes that appear in my book: Herbs and Health with Hilde Hemmes.

Hot infusion

A hot infusion is one of the simplest ways to prepare many dried herbs for use as a medicine or as a revitalizing herbal tea. To prepare a hot infusion, begin by weighing each of the herbs listed in your chosen recipe. Place all the weighed herbs into a bowl, mix them well and then store in a sealed glass jar away from sunlight. To prepare each dose of a hot infusion, measure 1 heaped teaspoonful of the mixed herbs and pour 1 cup of boiling water over them. Cover the cup with a lid or saucer—this ensures that the volatile oils in many medicinal herbs do not escape into the air. Allow the mixture to steep for 3–5 minutes and strain before using. If not using straight away, you can store an infusion in a covered jug or container in the fridge for up to 24 hours and gently warm the mixture before drinking.

Cold infusion

Cold infusions are usually recommended for preparing more delicate herbs whose active ingredients can be damaged by high temperatures. To prepare a cold infusion, begin by weighing each of the herbs listed in your chosen recipe. Place all the weighed herbs into a bowl, mix them well and then store in a sealed glass jar away from sunlight. To prepare each dose of a cold infusion, measure 1 heaped teaspoonful of the mixed herbs and pour 1 cup of cold water over them. Cover and allow to steep for 8–12 hours (this is best done overnight). Strain and warm slightly before drinking.

Decoction

Decoction is the method used to extract the medicinal ingredients from the harder parts of herbs such as roots, bark, twigs and berries. To prepare a decoction, begin by weighing each of the herbs listed in your chosen recipe. Place all the weighed herbs into a bowl, mix them well and then store in a sealed glass jar away from sunlight. To prepare each dose of a decoction, measure 1 heaped teaspoonful of the mixed herbs and place them in a saucepan with 1 cup of cold water. Bring the mixture to the boil, simmer for 10–15 minutes (longer if the roots are very hard) and strain before drinking. If not using straight away, you can store a decoction in a covered jug or container in the fridge for up to 48 hours and gently warm the mixture before drinking.