Reclaiming Your Roots

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DIY Herbal Tea Blending

Herbal Tea Making 101

Teas are my one of my favorite ways of taking herbs medicinally.  Essentially, making an herbal tea is the process of using water to extract the phytochemicals from medicinal plants. Although they aren’t necessarily as potent or active as tinctures sometimes, the act and ritual of making and drinking tea makes you a part of the healing process and can bring emotional and spiritual healing, as well as physical.  I prefer to make my daily tea in a quart jar and drink it throughout the day.  Creating herbal tea blends can also be a fun, creative activity.  You not only get to think about what medicinal effects you are wanting to get from the blend but also get to play with taste, color, and smell. 

Dosage: For adults, typically, 1-3 tsp of herbs for each cup of water, or 1-4 T per qt, depending on the herb.  For chronic problems, 3-4 cups of tea/day for several weeks.  For acute problems, i.e. colds, flus, etc., drink ¼ - ½  cup throughout the day, up to 3-4 cups.  For elders, cut these doses in half.  For children, Rosemary Gladstar recommends the following rule: Add 12 to the child’s age and divide this total by the child’s age.  For example, the dosage for a 4 yr old: 16/4 =.25 or ¼ of adult dose. 

Equipment: I actually make most of my tea infusions in a mason jar.  I place dried herbs in the jar and simply pour hot water over and let the herbs swim around as they steep. You can then strain using a metal kitchen strainer.  Tea pots w/ infusers are also a beautiful option, as well as french presses, tea ball infusers, or reusable cloth tea bags.  

Infusions: Infusions are made from the more delicate parts of the plant, including leaves, flowers, and stems, which give up their medicinal properties more easily.  To make an infusion, bring water to a boil and pour water over herbs, letting them steep covered for at least 15-20 minutes or longer if you’d like. 

Ex. Nettle leaf, Peppermint, Chamomile

Decoctions: Decoctions are made from the tougher plant parts, such as roots, bark, and seeds.  Because these parts are tougher, it’s a bit more difficult to extract their medicinal constituents.  To make a decoction, place herbs in a small pot with water. Bring to a boil and then let simmer for 10-20 minutes, covered. 

Ex. Dandelion root, Ginger root, Hawthorn berries

* If I am making a tea that involves both leaves and roots for the day, I will make a decoction first with those herbs and then pour the decoction over the other herbs and let the brew infuse for another 30 minutes or so!

Expiration Date: For dried herbs, my rule of thumb is to use them within 1 year of the date they were harvested and dried. For brewed tea, you have the option of keeping it in the fridge and using it within 2-3 days before you start losing its medicine.

Making Herbal Tea Blends

Things to Consider:

·         What medicinal properties or herbal actions am I looking for? Ex. Decongesting, Anti-inflammatory, Immune support, Nerve Sedating, Warming

·         Ratios of herbs in blend based on these properties I am looking for and strength of the herb?

·         What are the taste of the herbs? If an herb has a bitter taste or isn’t super flavorful, it might be useful to add tastier herbs, such as Ginger, Cinnamon, or Peppermint into the blend

·         Do herbs need to be infused or decocted? For how long?

Here are some tasty blends to get you started:

Detox Chai                                                        Hibiscus High C                                              Mint Delight

3-4 parts Nettles                                                2-3 parts Hibiscus                                         1 part Peppermint 

   1 part Ginger                                                     1 part Rosehips                                             1 part Spearmint

1 part Cinnamon                                               1 ½ parts Lemongrass                                  1/4 part Fennel

 1 part Orange Peel                                            1 part Spearmint                                      * Infuse 15 minutes

*Infuse 20-30 minutes                                   *Infuse 10-15 minutes