Medicinal herbs are gaining traction and almost becoming trendy in mainstream culture—which in many ways is a beautiful thing! But of course, that means there’s going to be a wide range of qualities for the medicine that is available to us. Medicinal teas have been on grocery store shelves for many years, but before grabbing those mass produced formulas, I’d love to share a little bit about getting the best quality and highest potency medicine in your cup.
IT STARTS WITH HERB QUALITY
The teas bags that are sitting on the store shelves may have started with super fresh, potent plants. But the herbs were then ground down nearly to dust. For the highest quality cup of tea, you want your plant material to still be somewhat recognizable. This means whole dried rose petals and oat tops and chunks of cinnamon and strawberries are what you’ll find in our teas. Look for loose herbal tea blends that haven’t been ground down into tiny specks in order to fit inside a little tea bag.
USE PLENTY OF HERBS PER CUP
To make medicinal quality tea, you don’t want a weak, watered down cup. In the herbalism world, we call our teas either infusions or decoctions. Infusions are steeped herbs and decoctions are simmered. For leaves and flowers, we use infusions. For tougher plant material, like roots, barks, and mushrooms, we use decoctions. For each 8oz cup of water using either method, I recommend 2-3 teaspoons of herbs.
STEEP OR SIMMER COVERED
When the steam rises from your cup or teapot, you are losing beneficial volatile oils from the plants. Always steep or simmer your medicinal teas with a cover. A mason jar makes a great infusion tool and you can make a few cups at a time.
STEEP OR SIMMER LONG ENOUGH
Medicinal teas are not your 3 minute steep. For infusions, you want to steep covered for at least 20 minutes. The longer you steep, the stronger your medicine brew will be. So, I often make my teas in the evening and let them sit overnight. Then, I strain the herbs out in the morning and gently reheat the potent blend. Decoctions are similar in that you want to let them simmer for at least 20 minutes. Though they are often kept going for several hours to really extract the medicinal constituents from the tougher plant materials. Just keep in mind that the more you simmer, the more water will cook off. So sometimes adding a bit more water is necessary throughout the process—just keep an eye on it!
TAKE ENOUGH THROUGHOUT THE DAY
If you’re working on chronic issues like anxiety or digestive issues for example, it’s best to have 3-4 cups of tea a day to really give your body enough power to work towards healing. One cup once a week isn’t going to give us the desired results. Working towards more vibrant health does require a self-care commitment.
Infusions (for leaf & flower teas):
- Start with 2-3 teaspoons of high quality loose tea per 8oz cup.
- Pour boiled water over the herbs and cover quickly. (I like to use a 32 oz mason jar with 3 tablespoons of herbs topped with water and capped for ease of making tea in bulk.)
- Steep for at least 20 minutes or overnight.
- Strain. Reheat a cup at a time and store the remainder in the refrigerator for 2-3 days max.
Decoctions (for root, bark, & mushroom teas, like our Immunity Chai)
- Fill a pot with 32 oz of water and 3 tablespoons of herbs.
- Cover and bring to a gentle simmer.
- Simmer for 20 minutes or up to 4 hours for a deeply medicinal brew. Add a bit more water if too much cooks off.
- Strain and serve. Also may be stored refrigerated for 2-3 days.