We love tea. Well, I guess it’s more the infusions we enjoy. What’s the difference, you ask? Grab a cup of tea, get comfortable, and let’s talk about it! 😉
We have enjoyed experimenting with our own tea blends over the last year or so using herbs we grow on our small farm in addition to wildcrafted ingredients from our region. There are so many herbs to work with, the possibilities are endless! I have been drinking herbal teas for years, but to be able to gather our own and try them alone or in various blends is remarkable.
Tea is like anything else from the garden. It tastes so much more vibrant and alive when it is homegrown versus what you get in the tea aisle of the grocery store. If you don’t have a garden or time to do your own wildcrafting, a quality source like Mountain Rose Herbs or ACHS’s Apothecary Shoppe is the next best thing. Quality herbs make all the difference.
My HERB 101 class through American College of Healthcare Sciences (ACHS) started this week. I’ve been learning and caring for my family using herbalism and nutrition for almost twenty years but have just recently decided to formalize my education. With just the first week of work behind me, I can already tell this course is going to be quite in-depth and well worth my time. Our first activity is regarding herbal teas versus infusions, something I am familiar with but still have a lot to learn about.
What is the Difference Between Herbal Tea and Herbal Infusions?
Herbal teas are made using less herb and steeping for a shorter period of time than herbal infusions. Teas are weaker than infusions and are generally consumed for pleasure and refreshment.
Herbal infusions are made using a higher herb to water ratio, generally, one ounce herb (by weight) to one ounce of boiling water (by volume), are steeped longer, and are used for medicinal and therapeutic purposes.
To Make Herbal Tea:
- Use one teaspoon of dried herb (or two teaspoons if using fresh herbs) per 8 ounce serving of finished tea. You can use a single herb, or a blend depending on what you are in the mood for.
- Place loose tea into a teapot or use a tea strainer such as the Press-N-Brew tea bags, or one of the tea strainers you can buy at various stores.
- Add 8 ounces per serving of hot, pure, clean water (no chlorine or fluoride). Temperature should be just under boiling.
- Allow to steep for 5-10 minutes. Cover to keep warm during steeping.
- Remove the tea bag or strain. Many people prefer to stay away from the metal strainers, definitely don’t use aluminum.
- Use immediately. Do not store.
- Enjoy! Honey, lemon, or milk may be added, or not, to taste.
To Make an Herbal Infusion:
- Weigh out one ounce of dried herb (or two ounces if using fresh herbs) per 16 ounces of desired infused water. The desired ratio is 1 ounce herb : 16 ounces water. You can use a single herb, or a blend depending on the desired effect.
- Place loose tea into a pot with a lid. You can use a teapot or any pot with a lid. Just be sure stay away from aluminum as it can react with the constituents in the herbs, and has also been linked with Alzheimer’s disease.
- Measure 16 ounces of clean, pure water (no chlorine or fluoride) into a pan or electric kettle to boil. Premeasure the water so that once it boils, you don’t waste time doing this before pouring the boiling water over the herbs. You want the water to be as close to boiling as possible when it is poured over the herbs to draw out as much of the plant constituents as possible in this process.
- Allow to steep for 10-20 minutes. Depending on the herb being used, you can allow it to steep for up to an hour, if desired.
- Strain the infusion using a non-aluminum strainer, and serve!
- May be stored in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
- Enjoy your medicinal herbal infusion! Honey, lemon, or milk may be added, or not, to taste.
My Assignment for this Week
My HERB 101 assignment for this week was a practical discussion comparing herbal teas and infusions and was as follows.
Maybe you will want to try it yourself. If you aren’t sure what to use, stick with herbs that you would normally find in the tea aisle to be on the safe side. If you do this activity, let me know what you think! I would love to hear about your experience.
ACTIVITY – HERB 101, Module 1: Herbal Teas and Infusions
Choose two herbs from your herbal kit that you would like to combine and prepare as a tea.
1. Follow the directions on the Press-N-Brew tea bags and use 1 teaspoon of the blended herbs to prepare two tea bags. Use the first to prepare one cup of tea.
2. Then, use the second, to prepare an infusion as outlined in the Herbal Preparations lecture. Conduct a taste test on both, and discuss your results.
This week, replace one cup of coffee with a new type of herbal tea!
Here is what I did…
For this activity, I chose to try the dandelion root (Taraxacum officinale) because that is the herb we are focusing on for the research portion of this module. I’ve had it in tea before but never this isolated. I chose to combine the dandelion root with something that I am more familiar with, German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) so that the properties of the dandelion root would stand out. I also chose the German chamomile because we were doing this activity just before bed after a very active day and could use something to help us relax.
I mixed one teaspoon of each herb and then divided the mixture between two of the Press-N-Brew tea bags. I normally do loose leaf teas and infusions but was interested to try the bags. After filling them with the blended herbs, they sealed easily with a hair straightening iron as suggested in the directions.
We use our clean, crisp Pacific Northwest well water for everything. No chlorine or fluoride there. After boiling the water with an electric kettle I poured 8 ounces into one mug to steep for 10 minutes for the tea, and just 4 ounces into another mug to steep for 20 minutes for the infusion. I used less water for the infusion in hopes of it being closer to the actual infusion instructions. (I wanted to follow the instructions for this activity to start but was a little confused about how to proceed because of the directions for a proper infusion shown in Dorene Petersen’s video. It seemed like I should have used a lot more of the herb. I wanted to start out with doing the activity as directed but plan to try it again this evening with the proper proportions of 1/4 ounce herb : 4 ounces boiling water for a small serving.) I covered both mugs while they steeped.
When the steeping time was complete, the family got together and compared the two brews. We found this infusion to be only slightly stronger in smell, taste and color than the tea, but not a significant difference. I thought the dandelion would give a much stronger bitter flavor, but it remained quite mild.
I personally found the tea to be quite weak. We prefer a stronger infusion and typically do nearly a tablespoon of loose herb per 8 ounces of water, steeped for at least 15 minutes. If we are using tea bags, we just leave the bag in the cup while enjoying the drink.
After each of us sampled the brews and gave our opinions, I returned the herbs to the water, added a little honey, and consumed as usual. This blend made for a very pleasant bedtime blend that we found quite relaxing after a long and active day. Perfect thing to help us relax and drift off to sleep.
Time to quit tossing the dandelions from the lawn and add them to our herbal apothecary instead! I might even (gasp) let them go to seed!
Disclaimer: This information is for research and educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Do your research.
Like this post? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and don’t miss a thing! Be sure to follow the blog by email to get free notifications of new posts! And if you have a minute, leave a comment! Let us know you are out there and keep these posts coming!