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How to Make a Healing Tea

Making tea from herbs is one of the easiest ways of getting the benefit of their healing properties

Teas, or infusions, have been a popular way of delivering a herb's therapeutic benefits for thousands of years. They are also delicious alternatives to black tea or coffee throughout the day and can be reviving or relaxing as needed. Many are available as ready-made tea bags from supermarkets and health shops, but teas are surprisingly easy to make from fresh or dried herbs.

You can make a good tea with dried herbs. You can even pop open capsules of powdered herbs and use the contents to make tea. But whenever possible, use fresh herbs.

Why? Simply because fresh herbs are more fun and more flavorful. The main difference between fresh herbs and dried herbs is their water content. Leaf for leaf, herbs retain their supply of medicinal phytochemicals even after they've been dried for a while. But phytochemicals are more concentrated in dried herbs because they contain less water. While fresh herbs are about 80 percent water, dried are only about 20 percent. So ounce for ounce, the dried herb is more potent, and when you add it to water, more of the phytochemicals are infused in the tea.

How to make a herbal tea
You will need a teapot, strainer or infuser (a small metal container punched with holes that holds the herbs inside a teapot), or a tisane cup, which has its own strainer and lid. Common plants such as lavender, strawberry and marigold can be grown in your own garden and used fresh or dried. If you're buying dried herbs from a health food shop, make sure they have been stored in a dark, airtight container and not sitting for months in a glass jar in direct sunlight.

Teas or infusions can be made from a single herb or a combination of herbs.

  • Dried herbs: use about 1–2 teaspoonfuls of dried herb/s to 1 cup of water
  • Fresh herbs: use 75g or 4 teaspoonfuls of fresh herb/s to 600ml of water for 3 cups
  1. Place flowers, stems or leaves in a warm teapot or tisane cup and pour over water that is just off the boil. Cover the teapot or tisane cup and leave to stand, or infuse, for ten minutes, so that the herb's therapeutic qualities can be released.
  2. Strain the tea into a cup and add honey or unrefined sugar if desired. Any remainder can be strained into a jug, covered and stored in a cool place or refrigerator for up to 48 hours, although it is better to make a fresh brew each day.
Home-made tea bags
You can make your own herbal tea bags by placing one or two teaspoons of herbs on a muslin square, pulling the corners together to make a small bag and tying it with string.

Ready-made herbal teabags
Herbs commonly found in commercial teabags include:

  • Chamomile: relaxing and calming and aids digestion.
  • Ginger: calms the digestive system, easing wind and indigestion. Warming for colds and chills and relieves nausea, especially that caused by travel.
  • Peppermint: uplifting and recommended to help digestion and relieve head colds.
  • Fennel: helps relieve indigestion after a meal.
  • Elderflower: helps to relieve hay fever and clear catarrh, enhances immunity and cleanses the system.
  • Lemon balm: eases tension, restores energy and helps to relieve fever, catarrh and sinusitis.
  • Vervain: soothes the nerves and stimulates the liver after a meal.
  • Rosehip: cooling and refreshing.
Teas for common ailments

Colds and flu
1 teaspoon dried or 2 teaspoons fresh elderflowers
1 teaspoon dried or 2 teaspoons fresh peppermint leaves
600ml water
Honey to taste

Make as above in a teapot. Enough for two or three cups; drink one every two hours.

20g dried Californian poppies
15g dried passionflower
10g dried wood betony
5g dried lavender flowers

Californian poppy is a sedative herb, which is far less powerful than and has a different effect from the opium variety. Store the mix in a dark jar until needed, then make as above.

20g wood betony
10g dried linden flowers
10g dried chamomile flowers
10g gotu kola

Wood betony is restorative and linden flowers are a nerve tonic. Store the mix in a dark jar until needed, then make as above. Drink three or four cups a day as required.

Heavy periods
20g dried lady's mantle
10g dried shepherd's purse
10g dried raspberry leaves
5g dried marigold petals
5g dried mugwort leaves
500ml water

Lady's mantle helps regulate menstrual imbalance and shepherd's purse is traditionally used to reduce excess bleeding. Add freshly boiled water to half the mix and infuse for ten minutes. The other half can be stored in an airtight container for the next day. Drink three cups a day, keeping the infused tea in a covered jug in a cool place.

Premenstrual syndrome
25g vitex seeds
600ml water

The seeds of the shrub Vitex agnus castus help to regulate the production of female hormones. Place seeds and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 15–20 minutes. Strain and drink a cup 30 minutes before breakfast every morning.

1 tablespoon blueberry jam
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon lemon juice
300ml boiling water

This is a popular American folk remedy for gastrointestinal infections. Place the ingredients in a large cup or mug, pour on boiling water, stirring to dissolve. Cover and infuse for five minutes.

Irritable bowel syndrome
1 teaspoon dried or 2 teaspoons fresh
chamomile flowers
1 teaspoon dried or 2 teaspoons fresh mint leaves
600ml water

Mint eases gut spasms and chamomile is soothing. Make as above in a teapot. Enough for two or three cups; drink one cup three times a day.

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