Hello Superfoodie lovers, wellness warriors, at-home herbalists and friends! Thank you for joining this series on DIY: Make Your Own Herbal Remedies, Teas and Decoctions edition. In case you missed the last posts of this series you can view them here: DIY Tinctures and DIY Elixirs. Let’s begin!
What is the difference between a decoction and an infusion?
Tea is a hot water extraction of one or many herbs which can range from a quick 5-10 minute hot water infusion all the way to a 4-6 hour hot water decoction. Most people are familiar with an infusion which is what people do when they put a tea bag or tea ball in a cup of hot water and allow it to steep a couple minutes before drinking. Infusions are used to extract vitamins and volatile ingredients from soft ingredients like leaves, flowers, citrus peelings, etc. Green tea, black tea, peppermint tea and chamomile tea are examples of an infusion. The short brewing time helps to retain the volatile ingredients while drinking.
A decoction is used to extract primarily the mineral salts and bitter principles of plants from hard materials such as roots, bark, seeds and wood. These hard materials generally require boiling for at least 10 minutes and then are allowed to steep for a number of hours. The tea is boiled down and concentrated so that water needs to be added before drinking.
Hot infusions draw out vitamins, enzymes, and aromatic volatile oils. A few good herbs for hot infusions include Chamomile, Holy Basil, Ginger, Nettle, Peppermint, and Skullcap.
- Scoop 1-3 tablespoons of dried herb into a strainer.
- Heat 1 cup of water until it just comes to a boil.
- Place strainer in your cup.
- Pour hot water over herbs and cover to keep the essential oils from escaping.
- Steep for 15 minutes to 1 hour and strain.
Cold Infusions are ideal for slimy herbs and herbs with delicate essential oils.
A few good herbs for cold infusions include Marshmallow root, Chia seed, and fresh Lemon Balm.
- Fill a quart jar with cold water.
- Bundle 1oz of herb in cheesecloth.
- Slightly moisten the bundled herb.
- Submerge the bundle just below the water in the jar.
- Drape the tied end of the bundle over the lip of the jar.
- Secure by loosely screwing on the cap.
- Allow to infuse overnight.
Or, you can simply place herbs in a quart jar, fill with cold water, and cap to allow to infuse overnight.
Decoctions are simmered teas that are perfect for the extraction of hard roots, dried berries, barks, and seeds.
- Place 3 tablespoons of dried herb into a small sauce pan.
- Cover the herbs with a quart of cold water.
- Slowly heat the water to a simmer and cover.
- Allow to gently simmer for 20 to 45 minutes.
- Strain the herb and reserve the tea in a quart jar.
- Pour additional hot water back through the herb in the strainer to fill your jar.
Try This Recipe
What you’ll need (Makes approximately 1 litre):
- 1 Liter Spring Water
- 2 TB Schizandra Berries
- 2 TB Goji Berries
- 2-3 Cinnamon Bark Sticks
- In a teapot, place goji berries into the water, and bring the water almost to a boil. When the water is almost boiling, start a timer and let the tea nearly boil for up to thirty minutes.
- After the goji berries have been simmered, add the schizandra berries. Start a timer, turn the heat down to the lowest setting, and simmer the schizandra berries and cinnamon for 5 minutes
- When the time is complete, strain the tea into a mug, or into a glass jar to use as a base for drinks and elixirs. Let the tea cool to desired temperature, and enjoy.
The smells that will fill your kitchen from the cooking of this tea will delight you. The vapors give off a very pleasant sweet and spicy cinnamon aroma. This formula is also a potent tonic. Schizandra and goji are both super elite tonic herbs and cinnamon is great for improving circulation to warm the body. It’s also great for blood sugar balance and has anti-fungal properties.
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