Creating nourishing herbal infusions is easy and fun!! For certain herbs, we are looking for the nutritive qualities of the plant ie vitamins and minerals. These nutrients “live” behind the cell wall of the plant and release themselves only after steeping dried plant material for 4-8 hours.
*drying makes the cell wall more fragile and thus assists in releasing compounds that are behind the cell wall.
~Flowers can be steeped for 4 hours
~Leaves as well as roots for 8 hours.
The essential or volatile oils as well as vitamin C are on the outside of the cell wall and are readily made available in water after 5-15 minutes. Tea can be made with fresh plant material. For example, chamomile tea will only be steeped for 5-10 minutes. Steeped too long and the tea becomes bitter-have you ever had this experience? If you have you know what I mean. The reason for the bitterness is that the water begins breaking down the cell wall and releasing bitter alkaloids. In small quantities, this is fine and will assist in promoting digestion, but if you are looking for a sweet relaxing beverage you will only want to steep your herbs with volatile oils for 5-15 minutes.
My favorite infusions herbal infusions are Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioca), Oatstraw (Avena sativa), Rose Hips (Rosa sp), Linden Flower (Tillia sp), and Red Clover (Trifolium pratense).
To make a nourishing herbal infusion:
- Boil Water (1 quart for every ounce of herb)
- Place one ounce of herb (for each quart of water) in a tea pot, fresh press or canning jar
- When the water boils pour the water over the herb (if you are using a canning jar place a butter knife in the jar to act as a conduit-the knife will absorb some of the heat and keep the jar from breaking)
Put a lid on the container and set it aside for 4-8 hours
- After 4-8 hours strain the herb and enjoy!!!
- You can store infusions in the refrigerator for 2-3 days after which they will start to spoil Infusions are nutrient-rich and become food –if they spoil feed them to your plants!!!
You can drink infusions warmed, iced or sweetened!! You can also incorporate them into your diet as a soup base!!