How To Make Herbal Infusions
At it’s very basics herbal infusions are your everyday cup of tea. But I wanted to share how to make a herbal infusion that is suitable for so many more uses!
How To Make Hot Herbal Infusions
- For herbal infusions you can use the seeds, flowers, leaves and roots of herbs. Some cleaning and preparation is often needed, but this method preserves the essential oils of the herb. We are not boiling the herbs, just steeping them in boiled water. You can use fresh or dried seeds, leaves, flowers or roots. Your seeds will need crushing to open up the outer seed coating and release the flavor. Dried roots like turmeric can be crushed first and powder produced, or added as first harvested.
- Using cold, filtered water. bring it to the boil.
- You will need approximately 1 teaspoon of dried herbs to every 3 teaspoons of fresh herbs, however for a comprehensive list we have put together a free guide, here. This will be enough herbs for your average strength cup of tea. So one cup of water to 1 teaspoon of dried or 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs. When we say fresh herbs we mean chopped and quite compact, not just a few leaves.
- Prepare either a teapot with in built infuser, or a tea ball strainer with your desired herb mixture. We love using fresh herbs, but if you want to have year round access to herbal infusions go for dried from your own garden for preference.
- Pour you boiled water into your teapot with infuser on into your mug with tea ball. The strength of herbal infusions is based on a few factors; how long you steep it for, how many herbs you use and whether they are fresh or dried. I am a real infusions fan and go for stronger herbal flavors, fennel and mint, or cardamom and turmeric.
- To sweeten your herbal infusions try adding rose hips to the steeping process or honey once you have steeped the herbs. You can also add chamomile for a lighter note to many herbal teas.
- Once your herbal infusion has steeped for between 10-20 minutes you can pour or drink from your mug with the tea ball removed, onto the saucer.
- Herbal infusions are used for medicinal purposes and are becoming more widely used with the popularity of blended herbal tea bags.
Herbs & Botanicals For A Hot Herbal Infusion
- raspberry leaf
- chamomile flowers
- holy basil
- rose hips
- mint – spearmint, applemint, peppermint
- lemon balm
- ginger root
- turmeric root
- kaffir lime leaves
In no way an exhaustive list, there are so many more herbs and botanicals you can try. Make sure to correctly identify all ingredients as simple herbs like sweet cicely can easily be mistaken for hemlock, with possibly deadly consequences.
TOP TIP – You can store your herbal infusions and decoctions once you have removed all of the herbs and botanicals. Do not store them with organic material in as it will encourage bacteria and mold to form.
How To Make Cold Herbal Infusions
Cold infusions are great for those with a cool place to store overnight. We do often prefer the hot infusion method as a means to quickly getting a result, however this is also a nice way to create Summer cordials. You will need to prepare your cold infusion the night before.
- Use a larger jar, one that can easily take a liter of liquid. Ensure that it is properly cleaned before preparing this cold herbal infusion as there is no process here to kill bacteria.
- Use a cheesecloth or muslin to make a pouch of the herbs you are to use. Place the herbs inside ready for your cold infusion. You will need roughly one ounce (30g) of fresh herbs to one liter of cold water.
- Top tip is to wet your herbs before putting into the bundle, this just means that the pouch doesn’t bob up to the top of your jar!
- Hang the pouch with the drawstrings outside of the jar. You will need to just hold on to them for a little while, until you have secured the lid back on!
- Fill the jar with the filtered cold water, holding on to the drawstring as you do so.
- Secure the lid on and leave overnight in a cool, dark place.
- Remove all botanicals and ensure there are no traces of the herbs that escaped into the liquid. We recommend straining with a cheesecloth over a clean bowl.
- Consume within a few days as a cold infusion can not offer the same level of protection against germs and bacteria as hot infusions. Store in a refrigerator.
TOP TIP- Make popsicles for the kids by freezing in ice-lolly molds. Sweeten with honey or rosehips and they really will enjoy them on a hot Summer’s day.
Herbs & Botanicals Suitable For Cold Infusions
These are not the only herbs that you can use in cold infusions, however they are more delicate and will release their essential oils without the need for boiled water.
- St John’s Wort flowers
- Echinacea flowers
- lemon balm
- pineapple mint
- nettle leaf
- hyssop flowers
Herbal Infusions Shopping List
Herbal Infusions Vs Decoctions – Differences
With a herbal infusion the premise is that you steep the herbs to release the essential oils. This does not work very well with heavier botanicals like tree bark or dried seeds -cinnamon sticks or even turmeric. The intensity of the flavors are more easily released when we simmer, rather than steep.
If you are just starting on your homemade herbal tea journey, then a hot infusion is fine, but when you want stronger flavors a decoction is the way forward! Mulled wine is a popular example of a decoction.
How To Make A Herbal Decoction
- Place three tablespoons of your dried herbs or botanical ingredients into a medium saucepan.
- Add a liter of water and bring to a simmer, not a rolling boil.
- Cover the saucepan and allow your decoction to simmer for a further 45 minutes. Be aware that if you are using turmeric, it will color everything it touches. So no boiling and bubbling away, a gentle simmer is all it will need.
- Strain your decoction to remove any of the dried herbs or botanicals from the water.
- You can add some more delicate herbs at this stage and allow to steep for a further 20 minutes.
- Drink once you have strained fully, or leave to cool and freeze or refrigerate for longer life. It will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for around 1 week and in the freezer for up to six months.
Certainly choose herbal infusions that you like the taste of to get you started, but then you can start to think about benefits of your ingredients and how to get the most out of them. We have put together a few articles around specific health benefits of herbal teas, including this one here for treatment of IBS. It is an illness that affects around 20% of the population at any given time and herbal teas can play a big part in controlling this issue.
Cold herbal infusions will last in the fridge in a sealed, airtight container for around 2-3 days with little to no loss in flavor. I would not recommend keeping them longer. Whereas hot infusions and decoctions will keep in the fridge for around 1 week. Once frozen you can keep your cold or hot infusions and decoctions safely for around 6 months.
If you are looking to grow your own herbs we are a site dedicated to this. So please do feel free to have a little rummage around our other articles and see what you can find to inspire you!
For further ways to store fresh herbs we have put together a comprehensive list of all the methods we use. Available here.
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