Dried herbs have always been at the heart of herbalism. It is as herbal teas that we can best benefit from nourishing herbs. Extracts are used for quick, effective treatments with immediate results, whereas dried herbs get to the core and bring about long-term change. It is in this form that nutritional elements are most easily accessible and water is the best solvent to extract them.
A few basic rules will ensure good results with herbal teas. First and foremost, you must use high quality herbs. Herbs that are grown organically ensure that the soil they grow in contains all the nutrients they need to reach their highest medicinal potential. It also guarantees that you are not using wild-crafted herbs that can put endangered herbs in peril. Make sure your herbs are stored properly: keep away from air, light and heat so that they can keep for at least a year.
Preparing a good herb tea is simple. The first rule is to prepare the equivalent of a few cups at a time because one cup of boiling water will not stay hot long enough to extract the active principles of the herb. Prepare enough for 3 or 4 cups which you can drink throughout the day. To calculate how much herb to use, the basic rule is to use one tablespoon of dried herb per cup of water. This will make a tea which is sufficiently strong to be efficient but not too strong that it tastes bad. With time, you can adjust the quantity of herb you use to suit your taste and needs. Put the loose plants in a teapot or a French-press coffee maker (Bodum works well), pour boiling water on the herbs, cover and let steep for at least ten minutes. A rule of thumb is to let the herbs infuse until they sink to the bottom of the teapot and have cooled enough to drink. You can filter and drink it either hot, lukewarm or cold, straight or sweetened with honey. The tea will keep all day at room temperature to be taken throughout the day.
You can also prepare very concentrated herbal teas with certain nourishing herbs like green oats, nettles or red clover. Place 30 grams of herbs in a Mason jar, cover with boiling water, screw on the lid and let it infuse overnight. In the morning, filter, squeeze the herbs in your hands to extract the maximum liquid and drink on ice throughout the day. This method is ideal for herbs that contain a large amount of nutritional elements. Drinking concentrated nourishing teas of green oats or nettles everyday for many weeks can really reverse conditions of fatigue (nettles), stress or irritability (green oats).
Tea, infusion, concentrated, light… any type of extraction is a good way to drink medicinal herbs. Find your favourite recipe and share it with your loved ones!