How to Make Herbal Infusions
Strictly speaking, tea is made from the leaves of only one plant — Camellia sinensis–but we borrow the word to name the brews made from many different herbs. Herbalists also use the term “simples” to describe herbs utilized one species at a time instead of in compound formulas.
As herbalist Fara Shaw Kelsey describes, simples are an excellent starting place. In fact, she advises that you not get involved — either in buying or making your own–in complex tea formulas unless you are knowledgeable about how the herbs are used. Otherwise, you and your family might be drinking stimulating brews before sleep and sleep-inducing potions for breakfast!
To Make Herbal Tea Infusions
Take a handful of the dried herb and put it in a glass jar, such as a Mason jar or glass coffeepot. Pour boiling water over it (a stainless steel knife placed in the jar will absorb some of the heat so that the jar doesn’t crack) and immediately stir, making sure all the plant material is wet. Quickly cover the jar so that the vapors do not escape. (The vapors contain the plant’s volatile oils.)
Let the jar sit at room temperature for four hours, or until completely cooled, then refrigerate. Kelsey makes her infusions at night and cools them at room temperature overnight. Before drinking, strain the tea and serve hot or at room temperature.
By Annie B. Bond, the best-selling and award-winning author of five healthy/green living books, including Better Basics for the Home (Three Rivers Press, 1999), Home Enlightenment, Clean & Green (1990), and most recently True Food (National Geographic, 2010 and winner of Gourmand Awards Best Health and Nutrition Cookbook in the World). She has authored literally thousands of articles and was named “the foremost expert on green living” by Body & Soul magazine (2009).