Tuesday, February 10, 2009

How-to Make Herbal Teas from Your Garden

Yesterday afternoon the Seasonal Gardeners held their meeting in our Apothecary Shoppe. I met with the group for about an hour and talked how to use their garden in their kitchen—specifically, easy-to-use methods for making herbal teas and infusions. (A video of my talk will be on ACHS TV soon. To see it, go to: http://www.youtube.com/achstv)

Making herbal teas is one of the simplest ways to get the health benefits of your backyard plants. Herbal teas are relaxing to drink and smell good, but with regular use they also tone, soothe, and balance the body.

The basic recipe for herbal teas is:
1-t dried herbs or 2-t fresh herbs
1-cup boiling water

Infusions, however, are slightly more complicated. An infusion is stronger than regular herbal tea and is made for immediate use (you can store an infusion for up to 24 hours in the fridge). They have all of the benefits of regular herbal tea, but also extract glycosides, alkaloid salts, and water-soluble vitamins.

The basic recipes for infusions is:
1-oz dried herbs
1-pt purified water

Place your herbs into a ceramic or glass teapot. Bring the water to a boil. Do not use an aluminum pot. An electric kettle or kettle on the stove is fine. Turn off the heat and pour the water over the herb. Cover the pot and let steep for 10 to 20 minutes.

There are no definite rules for combining herbs in a tea mixture. Intention and taste are the two most important things. The Seasonal Gardeners asked me to blend a tea for them. When I discovered they were all women about my age, I created the menopause support tea – see below. It tastes great!

When you start to create a tea blend, think about the end result you would like to achieve and always think of taste. I am a great believer in making medicine taste good! After all isn’t that what Hippocrates meant by “Let food be your medicine.”

If you’re looking for relaxation, focus on the aromatic herbs. If you’re looking to soothe an ailment, then you will want to choose the herb best suited to the task (this could be a second herb combined with an aromatic).

Here are some popular and easy-to-make recipes for you to try at home.

1. For a cough, headache, or fever use:
Marshmallow Althaea officinalis (for the cough and irritation)
Yarrow Achillea millefolium (for the fever and cough)
Peppermint Mentha piperita (to improve the overall flavor)

2. Menopause Support Tea (see the photograph of the herbal blend above)
1-oz Hops Humulus lupulus (balances the nerves and nourishes nervous system)
1-oz Red clover Trifolium pratense (to assist with hot flashes and circulation)
1-oz Lemon balm Melissa officinalis (to assist with sleep and improve the flavor)
1-oz Skullcap Scutellaria laterifolia (it has been studied for use with addiction and assists with sleeplessness)
1-oz Chamomile Matricaria recutita (a mild nervine that also balances digestion)
1-oz Spearmint Mentha spicata (balances digestion and improves flavor)
1/2-oz Licorice Glycyrrhiza glabra (adrenal support)

3. Bran Tea
This tea cleanses the kidneys and supports healthy blood pressure.
1-cup Bran
2-cups Boiling water
Lemon and honey to taste (optional)
Simmer the bran and water for 30 minutes. Drink throughout the day.

You can adjust any formula for your own tastes. Always listen to your body, and, most of all, relax and enjoy your cup of tea.

The Menopause Support Tea will be available through the Apothecary Shoppe soon. Check back with us at www.apothecary-shoppe.com.

Remember, you can subscribe to ACHS TV and see all of our how-to videos, expert lectures and talks, and information about our Summer School study-abroad programs in Greece.

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