Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Preparing Herbal Teas: Decoctions

 (Glass pot decoction simmering on low)

Yesterday I discussed making herbal infusions.  Today I will show you how to make a decoction, the other common brewing method for herbal teas.  Decoctions use the herbal roots, branches, bark, and seeds; the tough parts of the herbs.

Because these tough parts are used, decoctions need time to simmer to extract the nutritional and medicinal benefits of the herbs.  There are many ways to prepare decoctions.  Some will say to simmer for just 15-20 minutes, while others will say to simmer for a few hours.  Many times, the simmer time will depend on the type of herb being used.

(Straining out the herbal matter)                                                      

 My general rule of thumb is to use one teaspoon of herb per cup of water and simmer on the lowest heat setting you can, for 30-45 minutes.  You will want to keep the pot covered, as the water amount will decrease over time.  Be sure to use a glass pot for decoctions.  I use corning ware which I have purchased inexpensively from ebay.

Decoctions can be quite strong, so you will want to add back some water and a little honey before you drink them.  Some of my regular favorites are dandelion root, burdock root, yellow dock root, and milk thistle seeds (crushed).  All these herbs help to cleanse and support the liver.  Delicious chai teas can also be made with cinnamon sticks, cloves, cardamon seeds (slightly crushed), and ginger root.  Have some fun experimenting.

As with all herbal preparations, it is best to look up your specific herb for decoction time.

And for fun, I added a picture of some purple and green cabbage, garlic, and dried sea lettuce I made today that will be a yummy sauerkraut in just 3 days.  We are enjoying some unusually warm weather and I am taking advantage of it and putting up a bunch of fermented foods, since it's easier to ferment in warm weather, rather than cold.

I hope these beautiful colors inspire you as much as they do me!

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