Herbal infusions may be the simplest and most commonly used form of herbal medicine. They're easy to make and a tasty way to get your daily dose of vitamins and nutrients. Teas and infusions vary slightly so let’s get into what makes them different.
Teas are weaker than infusions and are generally consumed for pleasure, refreshment or to aid acute symptoms.
Herbal infusions are made using a higher herb to water ratio, steep for longer periods (4-10 hours) and are used daily for medicinal and therapeutic purposes. Infusions provide a higher dose of vitamins and minerals due to the longer steep time and use the more fragile parts of plants: leaves, buds, flowers, stems, seeds, fruits and the roots that have a high concentration of volatile oils.
Done properly and consumed regularly, both teas and infusions are a wonderful way to receive nutrients and support your overall health and vitality.
Here are some tips for getting the most out of your daily teas and infusions.
The key to obtaining all the medicinal components is to cover your tea when you steep it.
This is a MUST. If you are steeping your tea or infusion uncovered, some of the volatile oils are escaping. These volatile oils are most widely used in aromatherapy and are responsible for their distinctive odor. Volatile oils can be either stimulating or relaxing and affect the respiratory, digestive and circulatory systems. You want these benefits so cover your tea!
Tea bags, tea strainers, mason jars, a French press, or an infusion teapot are all great for steeping and straining. Just make sure you are steeping your hot water infusions in glass or ceramic and not plastic.
Make a ritual out of it. Use your favorite mug, play some music, enjoy the process.
Water – Cold or Hot?
Good news is you can do both.
Cold infusions use room temperature/cold water and steep covered overnight on the counter or in the fridge. Cold infusions draw out sugars, proteins, mucilaginous substances, pectins, many mineral salts, glycosides, some alkaloids, most alkaloidal salts, and a hint of essential oils.
Hot infusions (pretty obvious) use boiling or near boiling water. The longer the steep the more potent the tea. Hot infusions tend to extract more due to the high temperature. Unlike green, white or black caffeinated teas you don’t have to fret about the temperature or steep time. If you do an overnight steep avoid using herbs that are astringent or bitter in large quantities or balance with demulcent (marshmallow, slippery elm) and sweeter herbs (cinnamon, licorice, spearmint).
Note: Dosages vary according to the type of herbs and age, body type and condition of person consuming it.
For Tea: standard proportions are 1-2 tsp for dried herb, 2 Tbs for fresh, to one cup of water. This can be a good rule of thumb to fall back on when in doubt. Personally, I like stronger teas and tend to use 1-2 heaping Tbs per cup but it depends on the blend of herbs I’m using.
For Infusions: 1 oz of herbs (by weight) to 32 ounce of water/boiling water. You can also do it folk method and eyeball it by filling 1/8-1/4 of jar with herbs and the rest with water.
For herbals teas the steeping range is 5-20 minutes depending on the herbs used and also the flavor desired. For instance, tannins – an active component of herbs, extract very quickly and if you steep too long (more than 3-4 mins) the tea can become quite bitter and acidic. Think earl grey that steeped way too long-not so tasty. If it is a blend of herbs and the tannins are in small amounts this can easily be masked by using other flavorful herbs. For example, like the small amount of rose in our Inner Bloom Tea.
Fresh herb teas need to steep much longer and require more herbs as they are not as potent as dried herbs. Double the herbs and steep for 1-2 hours.
For infusions the steep time is 4-10 hours. You can leave this on your counter overnight so it’s ready in the morning. Reheat if your prefer it warmer or for hot days you can pour on ice. Tea will stay fresh for up to 48 hours.
Below are some nutrient dense herbs you can experiment with for infusions and you can always try our herbal loose leaf teas for your daily cup.
Herbs for Hot Infusions
Red Raspberry Leaf
Herbs for Cold Infusions