How-to Make Tea (Infusions and Decoctions)
Excerpt from the book The ABC Herbal
The simplest herbal preparations are infusion (teas) and decoctions. An infusion is made by pouring a cup of boiling water over a teaspoon or two of herb. Then you let the herb steep in the hot water for three to five minutes and strain. This method is suitable for most aromatic (activating) herbs.
A stronger preparation may be made by simmering the herb for 30-40 minutes at a low temperature. Use about 2 teaspoonfuls of herb per cup of water. Simmer soft parts such as flowers, fruits, and leaves for twenty to thirty minutes and harder parts such as roots and barks for thirty to forty minutes, then strain. It is always best to use pure water when making herbal preparations rather than tap water. Both infusions and decoctions may be sweetened with a little raw honey,glycerine or other natural sweetener. Store unused portions in the refrigerator.
Excerpt from the book Practical Herbalism
The simplest and most traditional method of taking herbs into the body is as an herbal beverage. Herbal “tea” may be made with either fresh or dried herbs, and may be either an infusion or a decoction. Either one can be made as a “simple” – using a single herb – or a combination formulated to take advantage of the synergistic support of the selected herbs. In some cases, herbs may be added to a formula to help balance or offset some less desirable effect of the primary herb – unpleasant taste or excessive stimulate, for instance.
An infusion is made by pouring boiling water over the herbs in a cup or teapot, and allowing the mixture to stand for 15 minutes or so until the herbs have released their beneficial components to the water. The infusion may then be strained and sweetened to taste – preferably with a whole natural sweetener like raw honey or maple syrup. Occasionally, it may be recommended to let the infusion stand until it is cool to more thoroughly extract the constituents.
Infusions are usually made from the more delicate parts of the plants – flowers, leaves or flowering tops. When using aromatic herbs like Peppermint or Lemon Balm, it is especially important that the tea should be covered while it is infusing to prevent the loss of volatile elements to the atmosphere.
A decoction differs from an infusion in that the herb is combined with water in a small pot, and is brought to the boiling point over low heat. The mixture is then simmered slowly for 15-30 minutes, or sometimes until the amount of liquid is reduced by a specified amount – for instance, to one-half or the original volume. The resulting liquid extract is then strained, sweetened if desired, and taken according to directions. Decoctions are usually made from the denser, more woody parts of the plants – roots, bark, and stems – or from herbal material whose primary active are poorly soluble in water.
Infusions and decoctions should always be made with fresh, pure water. Spring water is ideal. They are best when prepared as needed, but they may be prepared ahead if they are kept refrigerated and used within 48 hours.
In addition to their obvious internal applications, infusions and decoctions can be used to great advantage externally as well. Detoxification baths, fomentations, washes for wounds, scalp and skin rinses, eye washes and drops, and vaginal douches may all be prepared from an infusion or decoction. External teas like these are usually made stronger than those intended for internal consumption. A “strong” infusion or decoction typically requires 2-4 times the amount of herb in proportion to the water, and a “strong” decoction may be simmered for a longer time or reduced to a great extent, as well. Glycerin may be added to these mixtures to preserve them for a longer period. One part of vegetable glycerin to three parts of extract works well.
Excerpt from the book Herbal Antibiotics
An infusion is made by immersing an herb in either cold or hot, not boiling, water for an extended time. (Basically, a tea is a weak infusion.) The water you use should be the purest you can find, not tap water. Rainwater, distilled water, or water from healthy wells or springs is best. Infusions should be kept only a maximum of 3 days if refrigerated, 1 or 2 days if not refrigerated.
Proportions and Steeping Time
Unless you are making a steam, hot infusions should be prepared in tightly covered jars to keep the volatile oils from rising off the infusion as steam. Herbs that have a strong essential oil or perfumey smell when the leaves are crushed are usually high in volatile oils. Quart or pint canning jars are very good, as they will not break from heat, and the screw cap allows them to be shaken if desired and keeps any volatile oils from floating off as steam. I usually like to leave infusion overnight. I prepare them before bed and then strain them out the next morning and drink them throughout the day.
The following guidelines for making hot infusion will work with most herbs.
Leaves: 1 oz. (25 g) herb per quart of water. Steep 4 hours in hot water, tightly covered. Tougher leaves require longer steeping.
Flowers: 1 oz. (25 g) herb per quart of water. Steep 2 hours in hot water, tightly covered. More fragile flowers require less time.
Seeds: 1 oz. (25 g) herb per pint of water. Steep 30 minutes in hot water, tightly covered. More fragrant seeds such as fennel need less time (15 minutes); rose hips need a longer time (3-4 hours).
Barks and roots: 1 oz. (25 g) herb per pint of water. Steep 8 hours in hot water, tightly covered. Some barks, such as slippery elm, need less time (1-2 hours).
Cold infusions are preferable for some herbs. The bitter components of herbs tend to be less water soluble. Yarrow, for instance, is much less bitter when prepared in cold water. Cold infusions usually need to steep for much longer periods of time. Each herb is different.
Decoctions, prepared with boiling, can be much more potent than infusions and are generally prepared for use as compresses, enemas, and syrups. Like infusions, decoctions should be kept only for a maximum of 3 days if refrigerated, 1 or 2 days if not refrigerated.
Proportions and Boiling Time
The standard pharmaceutical approach to decoctions is 1 oz. (25 g) of herb per pint (475 ml) of water boiled for 15 minutes and strained when cool; water is then added to bring the total volume back to 1 pint. I approach the process a little differently: I take 1 oz. (25 g) of her in 3 cups (750 ml) of water and boil slowly and steadily until the liquid is reduced to one half. (If larger amounts of the decoction are desired, the amounts of water and herb may be increased).The boiling should take place in a stainless steel or glass container, never aluminum. The doses can range from a tablespoon to a cup depending on the plant used. For use as a compress, you simply soak a sterile bandage in the decoction and then place it on the body. As a syrup, add honey to taste.
Excerpt from the book The How to Herb Book
Herbs used in infusions or teas are in solution and contain only the water soluble parts that can be extracted by pouring boiling water over the dried, powdered, or fresh herb.
The advantages of teas are:
1. They are easily assimilated, easier for a weak body to accept.
2. The hot water helps release the power of the herb.
3. Liquid is already in the tea.
How to Prepare or Buy Them
Infusion – Tea made from leaves, stems, blossoms, or powdered herb. Pour 1 cup boiling water over 1 tbsp. fresh herb; 1 tsp. dried herb; 1 tsp. powdered herb or open 4 capsules. Cover, and let steep 10-20 minutes. Never boil.
Decoction – Tea made from bark and roots. Put 2 tbsp. cut pieces per 1 cup cold water. Bring to a slight, gentle boil and gently simmer for 20-30 minutes. Strain. Reuse the same herbs with another cup cold water and repeat the above process. Strain. Mix both batches together.