The Lion Herba Ultimate Guide to Making the Perfect of Herbal Tea
Herbal tea (also known as a herbal infusion or a tisane) is a great way of using and enjoying many herbs. We have created this guide to help you get the most benefit and the best flavour from herbs.
There are two main methods used to prepare herbal tea. These are infusion and decoction. Which method you use depends on the type of herb material you are using.
Infusion is the best method for preparing tea from the leaves, flowers and lighter parts of plants. Because these are small and lighter, they only need seeping in hot water usually from 5-10 minutes to extract their oils and flavours. Infusing herbs is best done in a covered container such as a teapot or in a cup with a lid or saucer on top to prevent the essential oils containing much of the goodness and flavours in the herbs from evaporating in the steam as they steep. A cafetiere is also good for infusing herbs with the added advantage that the plunger can be used to control the strength of the infusion. The plunger can be pushed down to stop the infusion process once your tea has reached the desired strength. If the tea is not strong enough for your liking you can always pull up the plunger to allow the herbs to steep a bit longer. When infusing herbs in a cup it is helpful to use a deep strainer insert of reusable strainer such as a stainless steel mesh ball to contain the herbs.
Decoction is the method best suited to preparing the parts of plants that tend to be thicker and woodier such as roots, bark and berries. As these pieces are thicker and tougher than the leaves and flowers, they need a bit more heat to extract the oils and flavours. This is done by gently simmering the herbs in water in a covered pan usually for around 10-15 minutes.
Here are the steps to make the perfect herbal tea:
For herbal teas use just boiled water. Do not over-boil the water as this will reduce its oxygen content and may impair the flavour.
For most dried herb teas use one teaspoon of dried herb per person and one for the pot unless specified otherwise on the packaging or as advised by a herbalist.
The type of herb you are using and its size will determine how long to steep them for. For most herbs where the flowers and leaves are used 5 to 10 minutes is perfect. Generally, the larger the leaf, the longer the herb will take to infuse. Barks, berries, roots and other woody plant materials require a lot longer and the decoction process (simmering the herbs mixed with water in a covered pan for 10 to 15 minutes) may be more suitable.
Once steeped, pour your strained infusion into your favourite cup and enjoy.
As herbs often have delicate and complex flavours there is no need to add milk as you might in black tea. A little sugar or honey can be added to sweeten your herbal tea if you like.
Most herbal teas can be enjoyed hot or cold and will keep for up to 24 hours in the fridge and don’t forget to compost your herbs once you have finished making your herbal tea.