Tea is the worlds most wildly consumed beverage and its easy to see why. Tea is the easy to make, and its a great way to add some flavor to water. It can be made as simple or as complicated as you want. There are numerous methods on the brewing methods for tea, blends, and the time to make it. There are bookshelves full of information on just tea alone- this post will only skim the surface of all there is to learn.
Herbal teas are one of the easier ways to incorporate herbs into your diet. Making a tea in its simplest form is just letting some plant material soak in some water for a duration of time and drinking it. There are so many variables that there is no one recipe that works for every plant or every person.
Hot vs Cold
For most people, whether to drink a tea hot or cold is a personal preference, the time of year, and/or the use of the tea.
A hot tea is typically preferred in the cooler months or times when your body needs to be warmed from the inside out. Those who have switched to drinking tea instead of coffee may also find they still prefer their tea hot. Hot teas are also useful with some digestive herbs- the warmth of the tea also stimulates the digestive system.
Cold teas are typically preferred in the winter months, much like a glass of ice water cools you down after a long day in the sun. They are also useful for some topical preparations, especially those involving rashes as heat tends to exacerbate injuries of that type. Depending on the type of method used in making the tea, cold teas can also taste smoother than some of the hot teas.
Making Tea- Methods
Teas are also called infusions or decoctions, the main difference being infusions are made with plant material that is steeped in water over a period of time where decoctions are simmered gently over a stove for a period of time.
Decoctions are generally used with plants that are tougher and need the higher heat to break down and bring out the enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and essential oils. Typically these are roots, twigs, nuts, some seeds, and bark. Other more fragile parts of a plants will break down too much and potentially lose many of the benefits, and these should be steeped instead. If you are ever unsure which of the two you should choose, steeping is always preferred.
The simplest way to make an infusion is to boil some water, put your herbs in a strainer, pour the water into a mug and let the tea steep until your desired doneness. Theres also solar infusions, placing a container filled with water and tea in the full sun for 6 to 8 hours. The suns heat will infuse the tea into the warm water. Cold brewing is similar to solar infusions, but rather than placing in the sun, the container is placed in the fridge and allowed to steep for 8-12 hours.
When someone says their making a cup of tea, most would think of the standard process of having a tea bag thats steeped in hot water for 3-5 minutes before drinking. These have many of their own benefits, but are also made with the intention of tasting good. If the intention is to use the herbs medicinally then the herbs need to steep in hot water for much longer, starting at 30-45 minutes. This allows more of the beneficial properties of the herbs to infuse into the water for your body to be able to absorb. Medicinal teas are very strong and that doesn't always mean it will taste great. You'll need to experiment with different ways to improve flavor, such as honey, raw sugar, or milk.
Below are two of my easy go to herbal teas
Lavender and Chamomile Tea
1tsp of dried or fresh chamomile flowers
1tsp of dried or fresh lavender flowers/stems
8-10oz of hot water
Can be made as a hot or cold infusion
Lemon Balm and Raspberry Tea
1tsp of dried or fresh lemon balm leaves
1tsp of dried or fresh raspberry leaves
8-10oz of hot water
Can be made as a hot or cold infusion- I've always preferred this one as a hot tea.