Making a Darn Good Cup of Herbal Tea Plus 3 Tea Blend Recipes

Why Herbal Tea?

When I was a kid, I thought it sounded so glamorous to sip on herbal teas. My parents weren’t really into the new-age holistic, herbal scene out in the middle-of-nowhere East Texas, so it sounded super fancy and exotic when I heard of friend’s parents and family members using herbal remedies. After finally trying some of this elusive herbal tea (pretty sure it was from a box of Celestial Seasonings something-or-other), I concluded that it was alright, but nothing I would go out of my way to have. If you asked me, the sweet tea that my mom made tasted much better (it’s amazing, that sugar).

As I got older, I was drawn to learning more about herbs and their healing potential, and I came to realize it might not be so much about the enjoyment of drinking herbal teas over traditional black tea, but more about what each particular herb can do for me and how they make me feel in the long run. Maybe my friend’s parents really were onto something with those fancy herbs.

It took me a little while to realize how delicious, comforting, and healing herbs can actually be once you find a handful of your favorites and learn to make some proper blends. Now, I very much enjoy a nice cup of relaxing chamomile tea in the evening, or some peppermint tea after eating a big meal to help with digestion. Meadowsweet has saved me numerous times from horrible bouts of nausea, and dandelion leaves help rid my body of the extra water it loves to retain without depleting my body of potassium like over-the-counter diuretics.

I could go on and on about the wonderful benefits of hundreds and hundreds of herbs, but we can save all that business for another day.

Not to be Confused with "Tea"

Traditional tea is brewed from the leaves of the true tea plant (Camellia sinensis), and is only brewed for about 3-5 minutes, as the leaves have the tendency to become bitter if steeped too long. 

Herbal tea (also known as a tisane) is brewed from any plant materials other than the true tea plant. Tisanes are steeped in water for around 7-10 minutes, or 10-30 minutes if you are making a strong medicinal herbal tea. Each individual herb has its own range of constituents that take different amounts of time to properly extract.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

2 Methods for Brewing Herbal Teas

Herbal teas can be made from the stems, leaves, roots, and/or bark of various plants. There are 2 different methods of extracting the medicinal constituents of herbs, depending on which parts of the plant you are using: infusion and decoction.

 

Image by Kevin bölling from Pixabay

Infusion

An infusion is when you allow the herbs to steep in hot water anywhere from 7-30 minutes.

Best used for: leaves, flowers, crushed berries, and crushed seeds because they are more delicate in nature. Boiling these ingredients would essentially kill off the medicinal volatile oils and chemicals. 

Basic Recipe: about 1 tsp. dried herb choice per cup of water

Directions

Pour boiling water over your selected herbs in either a teapot, teacup, or in a strainer on a teacup.

Cover and allow to steep for 7-10 minutes.

Strain herbs with metal mesh strainer, or allow to settle to bottom of cup.  (I personally don’t enjoy dodging large bits of plant material while enjoying my hot beverages. Totally up to you.)

For a stronger, medicinal tea: steep for 15-30 minutes

 

Decoction

A decoction is when you boil the herbs and simmer them anywhere from 15 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the size and thickness of the herb.

Best used for: chopped roots and barks

Basic Recipe: about 1/2 tsp dried herb of choice per cup of water

Directions

Place dried chopped roots/bark in small pot or tea kettle and cover with water.

Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes, or longer if you desire a stronger, medicinal herbal tea.

Strain with mesh strainer and enjoy.

What if you want to use a combination of stems/leave/roots/bark? You can start by decocting the roots/bark for 10 minutes, then remove from heat, add the stems/leaves of choice, replace the lid, and allow to sit for about 10-15 minutes.

Herbal Tea Blends You
Can Try at Home

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Sleepy Tea for Sleepless Nights

This herbal tea is great for making your brain shut up so you can sleep. It is also a good example of how to make an herbal tea using both methods, since it contains a combinations of delicate flowers with a hardy root.

Ingredients

2 cups of water (good sized mug)
1/2 tsp Valerian root
1 tsp Chamomile
1/2 tsp Lavender

Directions

Place valerian root and water in a pot or tea kettle
Cover and bring to boil
Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes
Remove from heat
Stir in remaining herbs
Steep for an additional 10 minutes
Strain and serve in your favorite mug

Valerian root is well known for its sedative qualities and its ability to relax the central nervous system. It is especially helpful for those who suffer from racing thoughts that just won’t stop. Valerian is also known for its super pungent aroma, so if you have never had the pleasure of meeting this herb, be forewarned.

That’s where the lovely, aromatic chamomile and lavender come in. Not only do both of these herbs offer their own relaxing constituents, but they also provide a pleasing taste and aroma.

Add a little spritz of fresh squeezed lemon and a touch of honey, and you have a delightful evening cup of tea to help send you off to sleepy dream land.

 

Peppermint is wonderful for the digestive system

Upset Tummy Tea

This herbal tea blend is useful for bouts of stomach issues including indigestion, heartburn, upset stomach, nausea, and diarrhea.

Ingredients

2 cups of water
1 tsp chamomile
1/2 tsp meadowsweet
1/2 tsp raspberry leaf
1/4 tsp peppermint

Directions

Place all ingredients in a strainer on a cup or small kettle
pour boiling water over herbs
(water should cover herbs completely)
stir, cover, and steep for 7-10 minutes
Strain and pour into favorite mug

Meadowsweet is great at knocking out nausea. Especially when combined with Chamomile and Peppermint. Raspberry leaf helps sooth the lower portion of the bowels, clearing up diarrhea.

This tea blend has gotten me through bouts of the stomach bug with much less symptoms of nausea and vomiting than other family members who refused to try it. (Stubborn husband). He has since tried it for a more recent bout of nausea and requested more later in the day because it helped so much. Boom.

Respiratory Healing Herbal Tea

This herbal tea blend is great for clearing the lungs, boosting the immune system, and flushing the lymphatic system to help quickly heal colds and other upper respiratory infections. 

Ingredients

2 cups water
1 tsp chopped fresh ginger
1/2 tsp Echinacea
1/2 tsp Cleavers
1/4 tsp Peppermint

Directions

Place chopped ginger, echinacea, and water in a pot or tea kettle
cover and bring to boil
Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes
Remove from heat
Stir in remaining herbs, replace cover
Steep for addition 10 minutes
Strain and pour into favorite mug

Echinacea has been shown to boost the immune system and aid in recovering from illness more quickly. Ginger and peppermint are great aids in breaking up mucus and clearing the lungs, while cleavers flush the lymphatic system as well as the kidneys and urinary system, causing the body to completely cleanse itself.

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