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
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
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
- 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.
- 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
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
- 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
- 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
Honey to taste
Make as above in a teapot. Enough for two or three cups; drink one every
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.
20g dried lady's mantle
10g dried shepherd's purse
10g dried raspberry leaves
5g dried marigold petals
5g dried mugwort leaves
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.
25g vitex seeds
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
1 teaspoon dried or 2 teaspoons fresh mint leaves
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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