Infusions & Decoctions
Should I use the decoction or infusion method to make my medicinal tea?
A medicinal tea is generally made in one of two different ways, an infusion or a decoction. Both are very easy to make but using the right technique can be the difference between a beneficial constituent bein extracted into your tea, getting destroyed or not being extracted at all.
In general, fragile plants and those with volatile oils (essential oils/strong scent), ie flowers and leaves, are best extracted by the infusion method. And the medicine from roots, barks and tough leaves are best extracted through decoction.
We could get very science minded here, by decocting all the roots and infusing all the flowers and then combining them together. We could even break it down to the point where some roots needs longer than others and there are some flowers that prefer decocting over infusions…
But in my mind this overthinking is not helpful becuase it generally induces too much stress and then we would just need more medicinal tea to try and counteract those negative effects… Best to avoid the stress in the first place if you ask me!
So when you are thinking of whether you should make an infusion or decoction, think in general terms of what will likely yeild the best result in an easy to follow process.
How to make a herbal tea infusion
Put 1 tablespoon* of your herb/tea in your mug.
Pour just boiled water over the tea.
Place a plate over the cup to cover it and allow it to steep for 15 minutes (the plate will prevent the medicinal constituents from escaping through steam).
* You can change the quantity depending on whether you want a strong flavour (and thus strong medicine) or something a little more gentle. The type and strength of the plants used will also yield a different result each time. Don’t be afraid to experiment. If you drink your tea consciously you will be able to feel the effects. if it’s too strong, you know to make it less strong the next time.
How to make a herbal decoction
Put 2 tablespoons of dried herb into a pot with 2 cups of filtered water. Cover and bring to boil.
Once boiling point is reached, reduce to simmer for 15 to 30 minutes (this will depend on the blend). If the water level decreases too much, you can add more water.
When it is ready, turn off the stove and keep covered until it stops steaming (so you don’t lose medicinal constituents).
If you find your decoction a bit strong you can either add more water to dilute it or add a spoonful of raw honey when the mixture has cooled a little (don’t add while boiling as this will kill the beneficial constituents of the honey).
Filter your decocted tea through a sieve or nut milk bag and enjoy.
I often make larger batches of decoctions when I know I want to drink them once or twice a day for a period of time. I store what I am not using immediately in a clean jar in the fridge for up to 4 days. If you do this, it is recommended that you gently heat the tea prior to drinking as the medicinal properties will be more readily absorbed into your body when it is warm.
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