Welcome to the Tea Room. There are a few ways to prepare and take herbal remedies. The three main, simple ways to ingest herbs are tea, infusion, and decoction. I will discuss these three ways here as well as making your own tinctures. I have also included Clark’s Rule so that you will be able to give your children the correct dosages of herbal remedies.
The equipment you need is very basic. You will need pan or kettle to heat the water, a container to allow it to steep or infuse in, and a strainer, then you are more than set! Now if you are a seasoned herbalist chances are you already have all sorts of nifty gadgets to get your herb on. If you are a beginner I would suggest that you will need a good strainer. Tea balls are very inexpensive or a small mesh strainer. It doesn’t have to be fancy. I just don’t know too many folks that like to get bits of leaves, roots, or bark in their mouth when thy are trying to feel better.
Herbal teas can be made by the cup or by the pot using either fresh or dried herb. Since the plant parts that are used to made tea are normally the leaves and/or flowers, the water is better hot, but not quite boiling. (Don’t stress, here, if it happens to boil before you get back to it, it will probably be okay) My own rule of thumb is to boil the water, remove it from the heat source for about a minute before pouring it over the herbs.
For each cup of herbal tea, you will need 1 teaspoon of herb to 8 ounces of water. Pour the hot water over the herb allow it to steep 6 to 10 minutes. This method produces a light tea in the herb of your choice. You may certainly sweeten it with honey or stevia or the natural sweetener of your choice. If the herb happens to be a bitter, splash in some lemon juice or dash it with salt.
An infusion is a tea on steroids…okay, I know that was bad, but I just couldn’t contain myself. Infusions are great for when you know you are going to need to take several doses of the herb throughout the day. Or for us hardcore herbalists that drink our nettle or parsley infusion daily because they are loaded with power nutrients, the infusion method is invaluable.
The rustic method of infusion, my personal favorite, is to use a quart jar. Place 1 ounce of dried herb in the jar. Fill the jar with hot water and cover tightly. Allow the herb to infuse at least 4 hours. I like to put mine together before bedtime. It is ready for me the next morning. You may want to make yours the same day instead of overnight. That is perfectly fine, just remember you will need at least 4 hours. Infusions can be taken cold or hot, your preference.
This is my preferred method for nourishing infusions. These are infusions that I drink daily. Most of the time, my own infusion is nettle or comfrey. Once you know which herbs do what, you will be able to listen to your body and know which herb you need to infuse.
A decoction is made from simmering the plant parts, usually barks or woody leaves and stems. To do this, you will need 1 teaspoon dried herb to 8 ounces of water. If you need more than 8 ounces, use approximately 1/4 cup of herb to 1 quart of water.
Bring the water to a boil, stir in the herbs. Lower the heat. Simmer at least 20 minutes. Allow it to cool and strain.
Many herbs are exceptionally safe for infants and children. However, all doses given in the articles on this blog is for adults. It is important to give little ones the correct dosage. The standard for most herbalists is the formula called Clark’s Rule.
To calculate the correct dosage for any child divide the child’s weight by 150 pounds. This gives the fraction of the adult dosage that you need to give the child.
For example, Child’s weight = 50 pounds, 50 / 150 = 1/3. So you would give the child 1/3 of the adult dose.
When the nutrients in herbs are extracted with alcohol the final product is called a tincture or extract. Tinctures are very strong and are taken by teaspoons or drops if you are using a dropper bottle. Tinctures are very easy to make. Just remember, it take a few weeks for the alcohol to extract the necessary nutrients out of the herb.
Using a fruit jar, usually, a pint will be enough if it is just for you and your family, fill it to half with dried herb. Pour enough alcohol to cover the plant material. Close the jar tightly and give it a shake. *DO NOT USE RUBBING ALCOHOL The alcohol should be any type of drinking alcohol such as vodka, brandy, or whiskey and be at least 80 proof.
Give it a shake every day for about 3 days. Store it in a cupboard away from direct sunlight for at least 3 weeks. You can leave it longer if you like. I personally allow my herbal tinctures to sit for 6 weeks unless I’m in a great hurry for a particular one.
After the time has elapsed, strain the tincture. Using a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth is best. Store your tincture in an amber or dark blue bottle if you have one. Otherwise you can store it in a glass jar in the cupboard. Tinctures have a shelf life of 3-5 years.
Non alcoholic tinctures can be made with apple cider vinegar or vegetable glycerine. It is important to note that tinctures made without alcohol have no preservative and they can become easily contaminated. They are also prone to growing mold. So, if you can, it is best to go with the alcohol.
Now you are ready to treat yourself to and with your all natural medicine that you made with your own hands. It just doesn’t get any better than this!