How to make herbal teas.
Real tea is made from camellia sinesis. To be completely accurate, what we know as 'herbal' teas are not really teas but merely an infusion made from the parts of herbs, usually dried ones, because we want to draw the flavours and active ingredients into water so we can drink it. The term 'herbal tea' has become very popular with those concerned about their health. Lots of places online want to sell you their herbal teas.
It is easier now to find detailed information online than it used to be, but some of it may be conflicting, so I urge some caution and discernment. Don't gulp down everything you see as soon as you read it. Keep looking. There may be better information further along.
For your broader search you may want to use the other words for tea, such as tisane, and ptisan. So you may want to combine "herbal tea" with the exact herb's name in your digging.
You can make your own teas (or infusions) by gathering, and drying the right flowers, leaves, and seeds or roots. Place all the herbs, or the combination you want, in a tea ball or tea bag. (This tea bag can be as simple as a patch of muslin gathered up and tied above the bundle of dried leaves, roots or flowers). Pour hot water over the herbs and allow to sit for a while.
Tea for One;
If you are only making enough for one serving you can place it in your favourite drinking cup or mug. Pour boiling water from a kettle over the herbs. Steep for 10 minutes, remove or strain out the herbs and enjoy.
Tea for Two or Three;
If you want to make enough tea to share with a few others, you can place the tea ball or tea bag in a teapot. Pour the boiling water over it. (Sometimes I put a teaspoon of honey into the pot at this point). Wait to steep the tea about ten minutes, remove the herbs and then pour, and enjoy with friends.
Tea for More;
If you will be sharing your tea with a few more people, I suggest you stuff the tea ball with a bit more herbs, or make a larger tea bag. Place this in a glass or ceramic pitcher, perhaps 1 litre or 1 quart size. Again, pour over the hot, boiling water, and add the honey if you think people will prefer some sweetner - or, allow them to add it to their individual cups when you have poured it.
The same instructions apply as above, except that I use a larger pitcher, and once the tea has steeped, I add a tray or two of ice cubes. If the tea still seems a bit warm, or it will be a while before I serve it, I set it in the fridge to cool still more. My favourite is to do this with mint from my garden. Guests always say this iced mint tea is very refreshing on a hot day.
If you do not have a tea ball or tea bag, you could pour the boiling water right over the herbs, steep, and then pour the tea through a strainer into another container or a teapot.
Incidentally, if you are working with the seeds or dried roots of plants, you can boil them briefly on the stove, as it is harder to get the flavour out than with the leaves and flowers. Note however, boiling can evaporate the very flavours you seek.
Recipes to Make Herbal Teas
I have some old recipes that have been given to me, for making very basic herbal teas to solve certain health problems or deal with the symptoms. To make it easier for you to narrow your search, I have divided them into separate pages like this;
Tea for Bad Breath (and a few other remedies).
Teas for Easing Colds and Flu Symptoms
Teas for Relieving Digestion Problems
Teas for More Energy and to Aid Memory
Teas to Help You Relax
Teas for Healing Ailments
Teas for Healing which need to be brewed in unique ways.
No doubt you will begin to wonder what each specific herb is suppose to do for you. I've compiled a special list of benefits for each one on this page. It is not exhaustive by any means, but a place for a quick check or comparison until I get more in-depth pages prepared.
Other Tea Notes
When you purchase flavoured teas in the store, you are getting regular black or green or oolong tea, with some flavouring added. Sometimes they have added other plants. For instance, I have read that Earl Grey tea is black tea with the plant bergamot added. There is even a Japanese tea with toasted rice added to it. So you see, people do get quite creative in making their teas. For some it is a fine art, and for others, it's a chance to go a bit wild with flavours.
To prepare herbs into a tea is a convenient way to take them for medicinal purposes, but there are other ways to ingest your herbs too. This is not your only resort.
Although I don't want to scare you, I do need to point out that some plants and plant combinations, when made into an herbal tea are quite potent. They may help, or they may give you other symptoms and problems that you don't like, such as allergies. A few might even be toxic enough harm you. So don't rush in foolishly and and drink concoctions that you really ought to research some more first. In some parts of the USA and Canada, the federal food agencies will warn against some herbs. Sometimes wisely, sometimes based on just a few negative reports.
For example, there's comfrey. If you use it too often, it can give you permanent liver damage because it contains aklaloids. Or lobelia will have an effect like nicotine. Both pineapple weed and chamomile are related to ragweed, which gives many people hayfever. (Mind you,there is another herb to help that!)
Be aware too, that the drug companies don't like the idea of competition. If people diagnose and treat themselves, they may lose some paying patients.