Nothing beats making a tea from fresh herbs. This blog describes some of our best herbs for making herbal infusions but also goes into a little of the reasons why they are so good for us.
Why make Herbal infusions?
Herbal teas, infusions or tisanes are the simplest way to prepare the leaves and or flowers of herbs for use as a remedy for specific aliments or to be enjoyed generally as a relaxing and revitalising tea.
Herbal infusions are also great for digestion. Whether we eat food for enjoyment, pleasure or simply to fill up our stomachs we all take our digestive system totally for granted. We put food in our mouth as a fuel and as it’s digested our body takes the nutrients and energy it requires. Often external circumstances can upset this natural rhythm, one of the most common is modern day stress. This can be indicated by indigestion, heartburn and or constipation. When one visits a herbalist they will not simply treat the problem they will find the cause of the problem; so they often will use remedies which relax the nervous system as well as acting directly on the digestion. The digestive system responds well to herbal remedies that come into direct contact with its lining. Herbal infusions are ideal for this, they are gentle and not as strong as tinctures .
Jekka's favourite herbs for Herbal Infusions
Below are my favourite five herbs for making herbal infusions (the botanical name will take you through to the Jekkapedia post) but there are many more. Please make sure you only make infusions from herbs (or plants) that you know are edible. See my step-by-step for peppermint tea below on how to turn them into tasty teas.
Tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum) is the sacred herb of the Hindu and has a delicate clove-like flavour. It is very beneficial for your health and well being and is one of the key herb in Ayurvedic medicine.
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus) made from the leaf this infusion has a wonderful lemon flavour and is both lovely hot or cold making a very refreshing summer drink or tonic.
Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) a classic infusion but still one of the best not only for flavour but it also helps to stimulate the digestive process as well as relaxing the digestive tract. It will ease bloating and painful cramps caused by indigestion. A simple word of caution as everyone presumes peppermint tea is safe if you suffer from stomach over acidity, reflux or heartburn only drink 2 cups of this tea a day.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) Rosemary tea is the ultimate pick-me-up: it’s a great stress reliever, alleviates headaches (and hangovers) and is even said to restore the memory. Its inimitable pure, clean scent comes from the oils in the leaves, which are antibacterial and antifungal, making it an effective remedy for halitosis.
Lemon verbena (Aloysia citrodora) the Rolls-Royce of bedtime herbal teas. It has highly fragrant, lemon sherbet scented leaves, and its mild sedative properties make it a most relaxing and calming bedtime drink. It also helps to ease bronchial and nasal congestion.
How do you make Herbal Infusions?
They are incredibly simple to make and something we often take for granted. To make your infusion, either use fresh or dried material using boiled not boiling water and drunk warm.
Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) tea step-by-step
You will need
- 5 fresh leaves or 2 small sprigs washed and patted dry.
- Or 1 teaspoon of dried leaves per person
- Boiled not boiling water
- A cup or a tea pot with lid to prevent the steam (we use a cafetiere in our Master Classes)
- A tea strainer
- Honey to sweeten if required.
- Put the mint leaves into a cup or a teapot depending on how many you are serving. Pour over freshly boiled water. The water should be just off the boil, as vigorously boiling water disperses valuable volatile oils in the steam.
- Cover and infuse for 5-10 minutes, strain using a tea strainer or a bespoke herb tea mug which are now readily available on-line.
- Drink the tea while warm with sweetened honey if required.
Source: Jekka McVicar