HERBAL INFUSION

Otherwise known as tea or tisane, an infusion is a hot-water extract of a particular herb or herb mix. I recommend that you brew a fresh infusion each time it is required. In theory you can keep an infusion for 24 hours in a fridge and gently reheat it when you need it, but freshly brewed herbs taste much better. You can use herbs available in tea bags, but for medicinal use brew them stronger than usual (two tea bags per cup). Infusions are the best way of administering herbal medicines for the digestive system.

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TO MAKE AN INFUSION

1. Take 2 teaspoonsful of dry herbs, 2 herbal tea bags or 3-4 teaspoonsful of fresh herbs roughly chopped.

2. Put in an average tea mug or small teapot (you should be able to fill it with approximately 300ml of water).

3. Pour boiling water over the herbs, stir and cover with a lid or small saucer.

4. Leave to infuse for 10-15 minutes. Strain and drink while still warm

DECOCTION

A decoction is also a hot-water extract of herbs but it requires 15 minutes of gentle boiling. This method is used for dried roots and barks. I generally recommend that you use tinctures of such herbs, but there may be some situations when alcoholic extracts are undesirable and you may need to resort to a decoction. You can make a greater quantity of decoction in one go by using multiples of the same proportions, and then keep the strained liquid for up to 48 hours in the fridge. Decoctions on the whole have a strong and bitter taste, and so are not for the fainthearted!

TO MAKE A DECOCTION

1. Put 2 teaspoonsful of dry root or bark in a small saucepan.

2. Pour 1 V2 glasses of water over the herbs (about 400ml).

3. Bring to the boil and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.

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