Let’s Create Some Herbal Medicine ~ Dried Teas

tea-blog-headerTo create a long-lasting dried tea, start with fresh or dried herbs and water. Through a step-by-step steeping, simmering, and evaporating process, the tea is reduced from a clear liquid to a thick, nutrient-rich batter full of active compounds and suitable for drying.Teas {infusions and decoctions} are some of the most vital components of a self-care routine, but you aren’t likely to have access to fresh herbs year-round, even if you extend your growing season by keeping some indoors in the winter. Enter the benefits of dried teas. If you are lucky enough to own a food dehydrator, you can preserve teas for future use.

dehydrator-traysFirst, you will prepare a tea by decocting your favorite herbs, and then you will strain out the herbs and boil and reduce the liquid to concentrate it. Finally, you will dry that liquid in the fruit leather trays of a dehydrator to create dried tea wafers.

Dried teas are very concentrated. Just 1/2 teaspoon of a powdered dried tea contains all the active constituents of up to 5 teaspoons of the fresh herb. To use dried teas, you can eat a piece of the wafer the size of a quarter or a silver dollar, two or three times daily, or you can make an instant tea by adding 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of the wafer powder to warm or hot water. These very highly concentrated extractions can be a bit strong for sensitive stomachs. If you find your blend has that effect, dilute it with more water or soothing licorice or marshmallow tea, and drink it just before mealtime. For convenience, you can also grind your dried wafer into a fine powder and place it into 00-size gelatin capsules; the typical daily dose is two or three capsules, two or three times daily, with meals.

Follow this process to make a tea, reduce it to a concentrate and ultimately a batter, and then dry it in a food dehydrator to create dried tea wafers. These can be thin or thick and sheet-like or flaky, depending on the herb.

balance-herbal-infusionBasic Dried Tea:

Approximately 4 cups coarsely chopped fresh or dried herbs {more if you’re using light materials like flowers and leaves and less if you’re using dense materials like barks, roots, and seeds}

10 cups purified water

1 – 5 teaspoons “carrier,” such as maltodextrin {preferred}, lactose, or food-grade methylcellulose*

Place the herbs in a large saucepan and stir to thoroughly combine. Add the water and simmer, uncovered, for 2 to 4 hours or until a dark, strong tea is formed. Let it cool until it’s lukewarm. Strain out the herbs and press or squeeze them as dry as possible, catching the liquid to return to the pan. Compost the spent herbs. You can strain the tea again to remove granules or sediment. Simmer the tea again until it is reduced to 1/2 to 1 cup of liquid. Let it cool until it’s warm.**

Stir in 1 to 5 teaspoons of the carrier, until the liquid thickens to the consistency of cake batter. Pour this “batter” into the lightly oiled fruit leather trays of a food dehydrator set at 95 degrees to 100 degrees F. {Higher temperatures will toast the powder and reduce its quality.} Dry the liquid completely; this may take from 2 hours to overnight. When it’s completely dry, the tea will be a thin, dry, solid wafer that is easily broken or powdered in a blender. Store the wafer, broken up or powdered, in an amber glass jar away from direct sunlight.

  • You can also use a dried and finely powdered herbs, such as burdock, eleuthero {Eleutheroococcus senticosus}, or nettle as a carrier. However, if you add water to your dried tea later to make a cup of liquid tea, these herbs will leave a bit of insoluble residue at the bottom of your cup.

** If you wish, tinctures of herbs such as echinacea, ginger, and orange peel can be stirred into the cooled mix before it starts to dry, either to add medicinal effects or to improve the taste. This is also a great way to add herbs such as valerian, which contains delicate essential oils and other sensitive compounds that would be destroyed by the boiling process. Follow the dosage directions above.

Strengthen-the-Middle Dried Tea

ginger-benefits

This recipe helps strengthen your digestive system and remove excess water from your body.

3/4 cup fresh or dried ginger root

1/4 cup fresh or dried ginseng root, red Korean or Chinese {Panax ginseng}

1 cup fresh or 1/2 cup dried burdock root

1/2 cup fresh or 1/4 cup dried orange peel

1 cup fresh or dried astragalus root

10 cups purified water

1/2 ounce tincture of artichoke leaf {optional}

Approximately 1/4 cup eleuthero powder, maltodextrin, or another carrier

Place the ginger, burdock, orange and astragalus in a large saucepan and stir to thoroughly combine. Add the water and simmer, uncovered, for 2 to 4 hours or until a dark, strong tea is formed. Let it cool until it’s lukewarm. Strain out the herbs and squeeze them, catching the liquid to return to the pan. Compost the spent herbs. Simmer the tea again until it is reduced to 1/2 to 1 cup of liquid. Let it cool until it’s warm. Stir in the optional tincture and eleuthero powder or another carrier. Pour the batter into the lightly oiled fruit leather trays of a food dehydrator and dry at 95 degrees to 100 degrees F. Dry the liquid completely, and break up or powder the wafer. Store in an amber glass jar away from heat and light. Follow the dosage directions above.