Ginger 101 – Traditional Medicinals – Wellness teas

Ginger rhizome has also been a staple in both Ayurvedic and Chinese Medicine, traditional practices that are thousands of years old.

Source: Ginger 101 – Traditional Medicinals – Wellness teas

Ginger’s warm, pungent and peppery bite is an international hit. The ginger rhizome is featured in Indian cuisine as spicy masala chai, in Japan as pickled gari (the pink stuff that goes with sushi) and in Jamaica as a refreshing ginger beer. And while no one really knows the exact origin of Zingiber officinale, the biological variability of related species in Southeast Asia makes that region the best guess. Ginger rhizome has also been a staple in both Ayurvedic and Chinese Medicine, traditional practices that are thousands of years old.

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Nighty Night® – Traditional Medicinals

Source: Nighty Night® – Traditional Medicinals

Personality
Peaceful, soft and sleepy.

Herbal Power
Helps you relax and get a good night’s sleep.*

Reason to Love
Passionflower. We love it both for its wildly intense beauty and for its ability to calm and soothe your nervous system and help relieve occasional sleeplessness.* When the Spanish missionaries chanced upon it they saw the perfection of the universe reflected in its anatomical structure. The native people of the Americas used this plant for its ability to promote rest and relaxation—something modern people occasionally need help with too. We’ve added other relaxing herbs, like chamomile, linden flower, and hops, to create a mellow blend that will help you rest easy.*

Taste
Minty, mildly bitter and sweet, with notes of citrus and spice.

Passionflower – Mountain Rose Herbs

Passionflower is cooling to the body, calming to the mind, and soothing to the spirit. It quells anxiety and quiets the ruminating mind. This plant is gentle yet profound. It can be administered as a soothing tea for children or the elderly and can help to induce a deep sleep in those that are overworked or stressed out.

Source: Passionflower – Mountain Rose Herbs

Natural Home Remedies for Sore Throat

Sore throats are one of the most common reasons people go to the doctor and they tend to affect children the most. A sore throat is usually considered a minor complaint until you have one and every swallow induces pain—pain that may seem unbearable. Unfortunately, the only option is to treat the symptoms and rest until you recover. Fortunately, there are many natural remedies that can soothe a sore throat and there’s a good chance you already have many of them in your home.

Common Sore Throat Causes

There are many potential causes of a sore throat, viruses are the most common. In fact, viruses account for about 95% of sore throats in both adults and children under the age of 5. Other common causes of a sore throat include:

  • Allergies
  • Dry air
  • Pollution
  • Smoking
  • Exposure to people with a sore throat
  • Cold
  • Flu
  • Strep throat (bacterial)
  • Tonsillitis
  • Weak immune system
  • Acid reflux

Common Sore Throat Symptoms

Isn’t a sore throat a symptom itself? Yes, but as you probably already know, not all sore throats are the same and some are more severe than others. You might have one that only makes your voice a little hoarse, or it might be a serious impediment to your ability to breathe comfortably. Some of the most common symptoms of a sore throat are:

  • Pain when swallowing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Dry and itchy throat
  • Swollen glands around the neck and throat
  • Hoarse voice

A sore throat is also a first symptom of the common cold and flu, but you might have other symptoms such as fever, runny nose, congestion, headache, abdominal pain, or vomiting. Consult your trusted healthcare provider if your sore throat lasts longer than one week.

Best Home Remedies for Sore Throat

1. Drink Warm Fluids

If you have a cold, make sure you’re taking in plenty of fluids. Nothing feels better than warm tea and thin soup when you’re sick. When your throat is raw and inflamed, drinking warm beverages keeps your throat moist and comfortable. Black tea might be the obvious choice, but give green or oolong tea a chance if Earl Grey just isn’t your, well, cup of tea.

2. Gargle Salt Water

For fast relief from sore throat pain, gargle 8 ounces of warm water with half a teaspoon of salt. You may have heard of this practice before and dismissed it as an old wives’ tale, but it does work and many people swear by it.

3. Use a Humidifier

If there’s anything that can make a sore throat even worse, it’s harsh, dry air. Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air around you. In one study, using a humidifier reduced the severity of sore throat pain. If you’re experiencing other symptoms like upper respiratory congestion, try adding an essential oil like eucalyptus oil to the humidifier to loosen and help expel excess mucus.

4. Honey and Black Seed Oil

Honey may not be suitable for vegans, and it’s dangerous for children under the age of one. However, honey does offer many benefits. Add a teaspoon of honey to your tea, or take a spoonful by mouth to sooth your sore throat. As an added bonus, research indicates that honey significantly improves cough symptoms in children.

You can spike your honey with therapeutic spice by adding 2-3 drops of black cumin seed oil (also called black seed oil) to your honey. Like herbal teas, black cumin seed oil is an anti-inflammatory and can help soothe the pain.

5. Cold Food

Drinking or eating something cold soothes an irritated throat almost immediately. Instead of ice cream or ice pops, opt for whole fruit sorbet or make your own fruit pops to soothe the irritation.

6. Herbal Tea

Many varieties of herbal tea are effective at soothing a sore throat. Chamomile, lavender, echinacea, sage, ginger, peppermint, and licorice root tea all have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Peppermint, in particular, relieves upper respiratory congestion by improving lung function and the ability to breathe through your nose. If you need to add a little sweetener, stir a teaspoon of honey or elderberry into your herbal tea.

7. Essential Oils: Lavender, Eucalyptus, and Myrrh

Myrrh and eucalyptus are effective for soothing a sore throat but don’t take them as a tea. Instead, inhale the vapors by using a diffuser or humidifier. You can also gargle with myrrh like a mouthwash.

Apply one or two drops of lavender oil, specifically and exclusively from the Lavandula angustifolia species, to the back of your tongue or throat, to relieve the pain from a dry, scratchy throat. The taste isn’t overwhelming and the only side effect is fresh floral-smelling breath.

8. Spices: Cayenne, Turmeric, Ginger, and Clove

Cayenne might seem counterintuitive for a sore throat but, after the burn, it provides relief by numbing the pain. To make, add one tablespoon of cayenne pepper to a quarter cup of warm water. Mix in the cayenne completely, take a mouthful, tilt your head back, and gargle. If you can’t handle a lot of spice, this might not be the best solution.

Turmeric and ginger both have long histories as therapeutic plants. Drinking ginger juice alleviates sore throat pain. You can also make a tea with fresh ginger. Turmeric contains curcumin, which is very soothing. You can make a turmeric gargle to soothe a sore throat, just like cayenne, but without the sting.

Make a clove tea, clove calms inflammation and eases the discomfort associated with a sore throat.

9. Propolis

Research indicates that propolis offers multiple health benefits, especially for those suffering from an upper respiratory infection. If you’ve never heard of it, propolis is made of plant material, beeswax, and, well, bee saliva. It is useful against most types of harmful organisms, even the flu virus. Take it by adding 5 drops of propolis to a teaspoon of water.

10. Honey and Elderberry

Honey with elderberry is my favorite combination. Research suggests that elderberry reduces the severity of the common cold and flu symptoms and may shorten the duration of the illness. Add a little elderberry syrup to your honey and stir into your tea or simply take it by mouth. If you use fresh elderberries, make sure to cook them thoroughly; raw elderberries are not safe to eat.

How to Prevent a Sore Throat

The best strategy is to avoid catching a sore throat in the first place. Reduce your chances by washing your hands and limiting your exposure to sick people. Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke, which may irritate your throat. Strengthen your immune system by eating cruciferous vegetables and carotenoid-rich tomatoes. For more tips, check out our How to Stay Healthy During the Winter article.

There are, of course, many types of lozenges, sprays, gargles, and, recently, pain strips but be careful with OTC medicine as it may have very real side effects. Conversely, most of the remedies described in this article do not have unpleasant side effects.

Kitchen Cabinet Medicine ~ CCF Tea ~ Digestive Support

CCF Tea ~ Digestive Support

Long loved and cherished by Ayurvedic students and practitioners, CCF tea is a bit of an Ayurvedic staple. Simple, gentle, and tasty, this tea is easy to make and is ideal for supporting a balanced digestive system.

I was first introduced to CCF tea as a student of Ayurveda at the Ayurvedic Institute. The faculty always had a very large batch of CCF tea going throughout the day, which students were welcomed and encouraged to drink during class time. As this was a full-time and intensive program, we wound up drinking quite a lot of it. I can personally attest to its warming, soothing, and supportive effects on the digestive system.

CCF tea is recommended for those suffering from an inadequate or compromised digestion, which is to say, mostly everyone you pass by on the street. I have yet to meet the person who doesn’t need some sort of digestive tune-up from time to time.

Drinking CCF tea relieves indigestion (and prevents it from happening in the first place), decreases gas and bloating after eating, and gently kindles one’s overall digestive fire (Agni), so digestive capacity is improved over the long run.

CCF stands for the three herbs in the tea: Cumin, Coriander, and Fennel, which are common Indian culinary herbs that many people will already have in their kitchen spice rack.

Western herbalists refer to these herbs as being carminative:

“Carminatives’ main action is to soothe the gut wall, easing griping pains and reduce the production of gas in the digestive tract. This is usually due to the complex of volatile oils present, which have a locally anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic and mildly anti-microbial effect upon the lining and the muscle coats of the alimentary canal.

 

Ayurvedic medicine has paired this trio of herbs together specifically for their carminative actions. Ayurveda would call this “enkindling the digestion”.

Cumin

Cumin (Cuminum cyminum): The Sanskrit name for cumin (Jiraka) literally translates as ‘promoting digestion’. It is rich in essential oils and has an anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, and gentle diuretic effect on the body. Cumin is indicated for sluggish or slow digestion, indigestion, nausea, flatulence, and bloating.

Coriander (Coriandrum sativum): The Sanskrit name for coriander (Dhanyaka) also means ‘rich’. Coriander is a gentle appetite stimulant and antispasmodic herb that is particularly suited for the hyper, acidic, or otherwise ‘burning’ qualities of digestion. It is soothing and anti-inflammatory to the tissues, and its diuretic action removes excess heat and toxins from the body.

fennel-seedsFennel (Foeniculum vulgare): The Sanskrit name for fennel (Madhurika) translates as “the sweet one”. Fennel is particularly useful as an antispasmodic, relieving painful flatulence, cramps, bloating, indigestion, and colic in children. It is rich in sweet tasting volatile oils and assists digestive flow in its natural downward motion. It is also slightly diuretic and has the added benefit of increasing milk production in nursing mothers (don’t worry – if you aren’t nursing, you won’t start producing milk by drinking fennel tea).

RECIPE – CCF TEA

2 teaspoons whole Cumin seeds

2 teaspoons whole Coriander seeds

2 teaspoons whole Fennel seeds

4.5 cups water

Combine the seeds and water in a pot, cover with a lid, and bring to a boil on the stove top. Turn to low, and very gently simmer for 20 minutes, keeping the pot covered.

After 20 minutes, remove from heat, and let sit for 5-10 minutes. This will make approximately 3 full cups of tea.

Strain the herbs, and drink warm or hot before or after meals.

This tea can also be sipped throughout the day to keep your digestive system ‘enkindled’, and happily churning along.

Let’s Create Some Herbal Remedies – Our Favorite Recipes Using Herbal Teas

Three-Seed Tummy Tea

This delicious tea is a favorite for preventing gas after meals. You’ll notice that it’s a light decoction followed by an infusion because of the plant parts that are included. This recipe can be made with either fresh or dried herbs; you can use a mixture if you have some of both.

3 teaspoons fresh or 2 teaspoons dried cumin seed

3 teaspoons fresh or 2 teaspoons dried fennel seed

3 teaspoons fresh or 2 teaspoons dried caraway seed

2 teaspoons chopped fresh or 1 teaspoon dried orange peel

1 – 2 teaspoons chopped fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried licorice root

3 cups purified water

1 – 2 teaspoons fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried peppermint leaf

Place the cumin, fennel, caraway, orange, and licorice in a saucepan. Add the water and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the peppermint, and let steep, covered, for 15 minutes. Strain and compost the herbs. Drink 1 cup up to three times a day. You can make a larger batch and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Sleep Deep Tea

This is a blend of pleasant herbs to help relax your body and mind and promotes a deep, refreshing sleep.

2 – 3 teaspoons fresh or 1 teaspoon dried valerian root

3 cups purified water

4 – 6 teaspoons fresh or 2 teaspoons dried chamomile flower

2 – 3 teaspoons fresh or 1 teaspoon dried St. John’s wort flowering tops

2 – 3 teaspoons fresh or 1 teaspoon dried lemon balm herb

2 – 3 teaspoons fresh or 1 teaspoon dried hops flower

2 – 3 teaspoons fresh or 1 teaspoon dried catnip herb

4 – 6 teaspoons fresh or 2 teaspoons dried passionflower herb {optional}

1 teaspoon fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried stevia leaf {optional, for sweetness}

Make a light decoction { see post-Let’s Create Some Herbal Remedies – Teas} with the valerian root and water. Add the chamomile, St. John’s wort, lemon balm, hops, catnip, and optional passionflower and stevia. Cover the saucepan and steep for 20 minutes. Strain and compost the herbs. Drink 1 or 2 cups before bed as desired. You can make a larger batch and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Our Cold and Flu Brew

This classic blend is comforting and healing during the misery of a cold or flu. It helps lower a fever, removes toxins from your body, fights viral infections, and acts as a decongestant. This recipe is unusual because it calls for simmering flowers to draw out special chemicals that take additional heat to extract. The recipe is formulated for fresh herbs, but if you need to substitute dried for any of them, just use half the quantity listed.

4 teaspoons chopped echinacea leaf

4 teaspoons elderflower

4 teaspoons yarrow flower or leaf

3 cups purified water

2 teaspoons peppermint leaf

1/2 teaspoon stevia leaf {optional, for sweetness}

Place echinacea, elder, and yarrow in a saucepan. Add the water and simmer, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the peppermint and optional stevia and steep the entire mixture, covered, for 10 minutes. Strain and compost the herbs. Drink up to 3 cups daily. You can make a larger batch and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Cleansing Tea

This fantastic tea contains cleansing, liver-stimulating, cooling, and soothing dried herbs to reduce inflammation or irritation throughout your digestive tract, along with giving your system a good cleanse. It tastes great, too!

4 – 6 teaspoons fresh or 2 teaspoons dried fennel seed

2 teaspoons dried fenugreek seed {Trigonella foenum-graecum}

2 teaspoons dried flax seed {Linum usitatissimum}

1 heaping teaspoon grated fresh or 1/2 heaping teaspoon dried powdered ginger root

1/2 – 3/4 heaping teaspoon chopped fresh or 1/4 heaping teaspoon dried licorice root

3 cups purified water

1/2 – 3/4 heaping teaspoon fresh or 1/4 teaspoon dried peppermint leaf

Place the fennel, fenugreek, flax, ginger, and licorice in a saucepan and add the water. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the peppermint and steep the entire mixture, covered, for 10 minutes. Strain and compost the herbs. Drink 1 cup three times a day or as desired. You can make a larger batch and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Calming After-Dinner Tea

A cup or two of this relaxing and delicious infusion is the perfect ending to a satisfying meal.

2- 3 tablespoons fresh or 1 tablespoon dried lavender flower

4 – 6 teaspoons fresh or 2 teaspoons dried lemon balm leaf

4 – 6 teaspoons fresh or 1 to 2 teaspoons dried chamomile flower

4 – 6 teaspoons fresh or 1 to 2 teaspoons dried fennel seed

2 – 3 teaspoons fresh or 1 teaspoon dried oat straw or tops

1 teaspoon fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried stevia leaf {optional, for sweetness}

3 cups purified water

Place the lavender, lemon balm, chamomile, fennel, oats, and optional stevia in an infuser or a container. Bring the water to a boil. Immediately pour the water over the herbs and let the mixture steep, covered, for 20 minutes. Strain and compost the herbs. Drink the infusion in 1-cup doses at least three times daily, up to 6 cups per day. You can make a larger batch and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Our Stress-Buster Tea

This infusion supports the adrenal glands and helps counteract the harmful effects of stress.

4 – 6 tablespoons fresh or 2 tablespoons dried chamomile flower

2 – 3 tablespoons fresh or 1 tablespoon dried lavender flower

4 – 6 tablespoons fresh or 2 tablespoons dried oat straw or tops

6 – 9 tablespoons fresh or 3 tablespoons dried lemon balm herb

2 tablespoons chopped fresh or 1 tablespoon dried orange peel

1 teaspoon fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried stevia leaf {optional, for sweetness}

4 cups purified water

Place the chamomile, lavender, oats, lemon balm, orange, and optional stevia in an infuser or container. Bring the water to a boil. Immediately pour the water over the herbs and let the mixture steep, covered, for 20 minutes. Strain and compost the herbs. Drink up to 5 cups a day. You can make a larger batch and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Our Immune-Support Tea

This decoction strengthens your natural immunity.

4 – 6 teaspoons fresh or 2 teaspoons dried ligustrum berry

2 – 3 teaspoons chopped fresh or 1 teaspoon dried astragalus root

2 – 3 teaspoons chopped fresh or 1 teaspoon dried shiitake mushrooms

1 – 2 teaspoons chopped fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried licorice root

5 cups purified water

In a blender or food processor, combine the ligustrum, astragalus, shiitake, and licorice. Process the herbs coarsely and place them in a saucepan. Pour the water over the herbs and stir to thoroughly combine. Heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the heat. Strain and compost the herbs. Drink 1 cup three times a day as needed. You can make a larger batch and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Menopause Tea

The herbs in this light decoction have a mild estrogenic effect, regulate all the female hormones, aid in blood circulation, and have a general health-promoting effect on the female organs.

4 – 6 teaspoons fresh or 2 teaspoons dried nettle herb

2 – 3 teaspoons fresh or 1 teaspoon dried vitex berry

2 – 3 teaspoons fresh or 1 teaspoon dried ligustrum berry

2 – 3 teaspoons fresh or 1 teaspoon dried lavender flower

2 teaspoons fresh or 1 teaspoon dried fennel seed

2 – 3 teaspoons fresh or 1 teaspoon dried licorice root, or stevia herb, to taste

3 cups purified water

Optional

1 teaspoon dried black cohosh root {Actaea racemosa}

1 teaspoon dried dang gui root {Angelica sinensis}

Place the nettle, vitex, ligustrum, lavender, fennel, licorice or stevia, and optional black cohosh and dang gui in a saucepan. Pour the water over them and stir to thoroughly combine. Cover and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let steep, covered, for an additional 15 minutes. Strain and compost the herbs. Drink up to 3 cups a day as needed. You can make a larger batch and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Precautions:

If you are pregnant or nursing, chronic health conditions, seek advice from your health care provider before consuming any herbal teas.

Let’s Create Some Herbal Medicine – Dried Teas

To 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.

First, 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.

Basic 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

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.

Herbal Medicine – Teas

Tea is a time-honored and widespread preparation method used by cultures around the world today – for at least the past 3,000 to 5,000 years, as well. This makes sense because teas utilize the most popular and available liquid substance in the world: water. Water at its boiling point {212 degrees F} will remove, or extract, most if not all of the valuable active chemicals from a herb, concentrating them in a form that {in most cases} is safe and enjoyable to drink hot or cold. Teas are also inexpensive and cost-effective, requiring only water, a stainless steel saucepan, and a source of heat.

Here are some common questions that are asked when learning how to make teas.

  • Is there a general herb-to-water ratio I should follow when making tea? The answer will vary, depending on how strong you want to make your tea. To make a moderately strong tea with dried herbs, add 1 part of a dried herb {by weight, in ounces} to 10 parts of water {by volume, in ounces}; so you will add 1 ounce of a dried herb to 10 liquid ounces of water. You can make your tea stronger or weaker by adding more or less herb to the same amount of water – in fact, it’s likely that you will want to modify these proportions to suit your own taste. Use this 1:10 ratio as a starting point, modifying it to your liking as you continue making tea. If you are using fresh herbs from your garden, add two to three times as much plant material as you would for dried herbs, meaning you will use 2 to 3 ounces of fresh herbs to 10 liquid ounces of water.
  • Can I use tap water to make tea? Generally, no. When you make a tea, you should always use purified water. Tap water in some areas is fine, but other locations have water that contains unwanted chemicals such as chlorine, as well as minerals and salts that can affect the medicinal qualities of the herbs. We recommend that you have your water tested if you need to use it from the tap so you are aware of any impurities that might be present.
  • How long should I simmer – or boil – my tea?  The answer depends on what part of the plant you are using. If you are extracting flowers, leaves, and small stems {which are thin, comparatively less dense than other plant parts, and have active chemicals that are easily and quickly extracted}, you’ll place them in a cup, cover them with freshly boiled water, and let them steep for 10 to 20 minutes. That’s called an infusion. To strain out the herb, pour the liquid through a fine-mesh strainer and into your cup. If you are making a tea from roots, bark, hard fruits, or seeds {which are firmer and more dense and require more time and higher heat for the active chemicals to be extracted}, you will cover the herb with water in a saucepan, bring it to a boil, reduce the heat, and gently simmer for 20 to 30 minutes {or even longer}. This preparation is called a decoction. To strain out the herb, pour the liquid through a fine-mesh strainer and into your cup. Any additional tea can be stored in the fridge.
  • What does steeping do to herbs? Steeping herbs in water helps to release the medicinal constituents. In our opinion, hot water is the best substance for releasing the compounds stored in the cells of herbs.
  • What’s the best way to strain herbs from tea? There is no one best way to strain herbs, but here are three options: {1} Place your loose herbs in a cup or mug, pour hot water over them, and after they steep, pour the liquid through a fine-mesh strainer. {2} Place the herbs in an infuser or strainer and lift the infuser or strainer out of the mug when it has finished steeping. {3} Use a French press just as you would for brewing coffee, by placing your herbs in the cup of the press, pouring hot water over them, inserting the plunger to about halfway down {or well above the level of the herbs, so that you’re not compressing them}, and pouring the liquid out when it’s finished steeping.
  • Can I refrigerate or store my teas for later use? Yes, you can. While we recommend that tea is consumed fresh for the best medicinal potency, you can certainly store any prepared tea in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. We prefer that you use a glass container {instead of plastic}, and make sure the container is covered.
  • Can I substitute my favorite herbs in these recipes? Certainly! Consider the recipes in each section to be starting points, and feel free to use your imagination and creativity. These are model recipes – simple templates that allow you to substitute other herbs, using the same proportions of herbs and liquid. If one doesn’t seem enticing or tasty to you as you’re making it, consider adding pleasant-tasting herbs such as licorice, anise, or cinnamon to the brew. Orange or grapefruit peel add flavor and are digestive aids. Stevia is a powerful herbal sweetener that helps take the edge off bitter teas, and honey combines well with most herbs. Use all of your senses to craft medicines that you love.

Infusions:

Infusions are the most common way to make teas from fresh or dried leaves, flowers, or flowering tops. Use 10 liquid ounces of freshly boiled water {with the heat just turned off} for every 2 to 3 ounces of fresh herb or 1 ounce of dried herb {or, of course, a combination of fresh or dried herbs}. Pour the freshly boiled water over the herb, either loose in a mug or held in a tea ball or infuser. Let it sit, covered {use a tea mug lid or “hat,” a small saucer, or anything flat and nonporous so the constituents don’t evaporate}, for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove your tea ball or infuser or pour the liquid through a fine-mesh strainer to remove the loose herbs; compost the herbs. You can take tea in 1-cup doses at least three times daily, up to 6 cups per day, in most cases. For very light and fluffy herbs, like mullein or chamomile blossoms, you can increase the amount of water to make sure the herb material is completely immersed.

Gentle infusions preserve the maximum amount of volatile components, such as essential oils and other fragile plant substances. They are made by starting with room-temperature water, utilizing a smaller herb-to-water ratio, and steeping for an extended period of time. To make a gentle infusion, place 1 ounce of fresh or dried herb in a container, cover it with 4 to 10 liquid ounces of purified water, and stir to make sure the two are thoroughly combined. {For even greater extract-ability, you can place the herb and water in a blender or food processor and gently whir for 10 to 20 seconds on the lowest setting, and then pour the mixture into the container.} Let the mixture steep, covered, for 8 to 12 hours. Strain, using a fine-mesh strainer and compost the herb. Drink the infusion in 1-cup doses, three to six times daily. You can experiment with the amount of water you add {between 4 to 10 parts}, depending on the strength of the herb and your taste preference.

sun tea is a form of gentle infusion that uses the warmth of the sun to enhance the extraction process. Place 2 to 3 parts fresh or dried herb {measured in ounces} in a clean, clear glass jar with a lid. Pour 4 to 10 parts purified room-temperature water {measured in liquid ounces} over it, and stir to make sure that the herb is completely combined with the water. Put the closed jar in a sunny place and leave it until the tea is strong enough to suit your taste {usually 4 to 6 hours}. Strain the herb from the tea and enjoy the drink at room temperature or chilled. You can refrigerate sun tea for up to 3 days.

Basic Infusion:

There is nothing more enjoyable than gathering herbs on a warm summer morning and bringing them indoors for a refreshing cup of healing tea. Here is a sample recipe for making an infusion from the herbs that you have picked fresh from your garden or dried yourself.

2 – 3 ounces fresh or 1 ounce dried herbs

10 liquid ounces purified water

Place the herbs in a tea ball, infuser, or directly in a tea mug or other container. Bring the water to a boil. Immediately pour the water over the herbs and let the mixture steep, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes. Strain and compost the herbs. Drink the infusion in 1-cup doses at least three times daily, up to 6 cups per day.

Basic Gentle Infusion:

You can  use this recipe with a variety of herbs, such as anise hyssop, catnip, chamomile, lavender, lemon balm, lemon verbena, oregano, peppermint, spearmint, and thyme. All of these herbs have an abundance of volatile or aromatic compounds that are ideally preserved with this method.

2- 3 ounces fresh or 1 ounce dried herbs

10 liquid ounces purified room-temperature water

Whir the herbs and water in a blender or food processor for 15 to 20 seconds. Place the mixture in a clean, covered container and let it steep for 8 to 12 hours. Strain and compost the herbs. Drink 1 cup three to six times daily.

Basic Sun Tea:

Making a sun tea is a fun and easy way to slowly infuse herbs in the sun’s rays. Use this method in the summertime, when you will have at least 4 to 6 hours of sun to warm your tea to perfection.

2 – 3 parts fresh or 1 part dried herbs, measured in ounces

4 – 10 parts purified room-temperature water, measured in liquid ounces

Place the herbs in a clean, clear glass jar with a lid. Add the water, and stir to thoroughly combine. Close the jar, and place it in a sunny location until the tea is strong enough to suit your taste {usually 4 to 6 hours}. Strain and compost the herbs. Enjoy the drink at room temperature or chilled. You can refrigerate sun tea for up to 3 days.

Decoctions:

Decoctions are made with the hard or woody parts of a herb, such as the bark, roots, and seeds. To extract all of the properties of these denser plant parts, you will need to bring the water to a boil and simmer the mixture. Start with 2 to 3 ounces fresh or 1 ounce dried herb {or a combination of herbs}, and place it in an uncovered saucepan. Add 10 liquid ounces of purified water, stir to thoroughly combine the herbs and water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the temperature and gently simmer the herbs for 20 minutes to 1 hour. Many herbalists follow the traditional Chinese decoction method, which simmers down the liquid for a longer time period, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. If you are just getting used to the bolder taste of decoctions, begin by simmering for a shorter time period, about 20 to 30 minutes or longer, increasing the time as you adjust for your taste preferences. You can take 1 cup two or three times daily.

If you would like to make a larger amount and store it, make a quart or two of tea. For 1 quart, start with 5 cups of water and add 8 to 10 ounces fresh or 4 ounces of dried herbs. You will lose 1 cup of water in the boiling process, and the end result will be 4 cups {1 quart}. Prepare as above, bringing the mixture to a boil, reducing the heat, and simmering for your desired time period. Once again, strain the liquid and compost the herbs. You can refrigerate this for up to 3 days.

Light decoctions are appropriate for certain comparatively lighter, more porous roots, barks, and seeds {such as the stiff, thick leaves of comfrey, rosemary, and white sage; the thin roots of valerian; and the light seeds of vitex}. A light decoction is prepared in a covered saucepan, which helps to prevent the escape of volatile constituents like essential oils. Begin by placing 2 to 3 ounces fresh herbs or 1 ounce of dried herbs in a stainless steel saucepan. Pour 10 liquid ounces of purified water over them, stir to thoroughly combine the water and herbs, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 to 20 minutes. After turning off the heat, you can let the mixture steep for another 10 to 15 minutes if you wish to further extract the active constituents, then strain and use or refrigerate the decoction. Drink 1 cup two or three times daily. Adjust the herb-to-water ratio to suit your taste.

Basic Decoction:

Use this recipe to extract the goodness from hardy roots you have lifted out of the soil and from seeds ripened in the late summer sun. Enjoy the deep earthiness and strength of this medicinal preparation.

2 – 3 ounces fresh or 1 ounce dried root, seed, or bark

10 liquid ounces purified water

Grind the root, seed, or bark in a blender or food processor. Place it in a saucepan and add the water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, uncovered until the liquid is reduced by about one-third. Strain and compost the herb. Store the liquid in the refrigerator. Drink 1/2 cup three or four times daily.

Basic Light Decoction:

Use this recipe for light roots, seeds, and barks, or for tough leaves with hard-to-extract constituents. This method is perfect for comfrey leaves, rosemary leaves, white sage leaves and twigs, valerian roots, and vitex seeds.

2 – 3 ounces fresh or 1 ounce dried plant material, as described above

10 ounces purified water

Place the herbs in a saucepan; pour the water over them. Stir to thoroughly combine the water and herbs, cover, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 to 20 minutes. After turning off the heat, let the mixture steep for another 10 to 15 minutes, then strain and compost the herbs. Drink 1 cup two or three times daily, warm or cool. Adjust the herb-to-water ratio to suit your taste.

Herbal Ice:

If you want to make a larger batch of medicinal tea and keep it beyond the 3-day limit in the refrigerator, let the tea cool, pour it into ice cube trays, and freeze it. Then pop out the cubes and store them in heavy plastic freezer bags, using them as needed.

Our favorite teas for freezing into cubes are echinacea {very effective against sore, inflamed throats during a cold or flu}; lemon balm, lemon verbena, and lemon thyme {for digestive help and summer refreshment}; and ginger and chamomile {for upset stomachs and nausea}.

Rose Hip Tea

It’s amazing what I find on my walks around my neighborhood. I’m lucky enough to live in a place where blackberry bushes are literally everywhere and fruit trees grow on almost every street. We’re talking figs, various varieties of plums, apples, and pears. Gorgeous curbside gardens overflowing with kale, chard, and tomatoes are the norm. Artichokes are growing on street corners. Seriously people, I live in a city that’s full of incredible food! And the best part is that gardeners are willing to share it! It’s pretty freaking awesome if you ask me. Just the other day, I came home with at least eight pounds worth of fruit just picked from some neighbors’ trees.

On one of my walks yesterday, I came across a gorgeous wild rose bush that was bursting with these gorgeous ruby orbs. They’re called rose hips, and while they may not be the first to come to mind when you think of edible fruits, they certainly are a fruit that’s worth looking for. Rose hips are the fruits that develop from the rose blossoms after their petals have fallen off. Cool, right? Heck, I’d take a bouquet of rose hips over the their flowered counterpart any day!

So why should we be eating rose hips? Well, upon doing a little research, I discovered that these little red fruits are incredibly nutritious. Apparently, just a single teaspoon of rose hip pulp provides more Vitamin C than an orange, making it an excellent immune system booster. Rose hips are also incredibly high in beta carotene (thanks to their incredible reddish-orange color). Beta carotene is essential for maintaining gorgeous skin and healthy cells. It’s astonishing how high the antioxidant content of rose hips is! I even read that rose hips are clinically proven to improve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Those are some powerful fruits, I tell ya.

Rose hips can be eaten fresh (after the seeds have been scooped out) or they can be dried and stored for later use. I’ve seen recipes for rose hip jams, syrups, and tinctures. In fact, there is even a traditional Swedish rose hip soup that is quite popular during the cold winter months to help fend off colds and flu. Here, I chose to make a simple rose hip tea to really enjoy their health benefits. Depending on the variety of rose, the hips will vary slightly in appearance and flavor. The rose hips I found were from a rugosa rose bush, which is known for having the biggest, most vibrantly colored rose hips. Overall, they have a mildly tart taste and remind me a bit of the flavor of cherry tomatoes.

There are a few ways to make rose hip tea. I chose to steep the rose hips in a teapot of boiling water for about 20-30 minutes, but you can also simmer them on the stove in water for the same amount of time until they break up and form a pulp. Either way works, just strain the pulp before drinking the tea. And of course, you can eat the pulp, as well!

Fresh Rose Hip Tea (makes 2 cups)

10-12 fresh rose hips, seeds removed
2 cups boiling water
1. Put the rose hips in a teapot or French press. Pour boiling water over them, cover, and let steep for your desired amount of time. (See note above).
2. Strain through a fine mesh strainer or push the plunger of the French press.  I pressed on the rose hips to release more of their goodness. Sweeten the tea with honey, if desired. And eat the rose hips, if you’d like an extra boost of Vitamin C!

Matcha: Health Benefits, Nutritional Information

Matcha is a form of powdered green tea. Matcha literally means “powdered tea.”

In traditional green tea, the tea leaves are steeped in hot water before being discarded. With matcha, the tea is ground into powder and mixed with hot water. As a result, the leaves are consumed. Traditionally, a teaspoon of matcha powder is mixed with one third of a cup hot water (heated to less than a boil).

Matcha may have even more health benefits than other antioxidant-rich teas, because, unlike traditional tea, the leaves are physically consumed instead of just steeped.

Nutritional breakdown of matcha

Matcha is a rich source of antioxidants and polyphenols. It is high in vitamin C, fiber and chlorophyll.

One cup of matcha tea has the antioxidant power equivalent to 10 cups of brewed green tea. Matcha has approximately 15 times the amount of antioxidants of pomegranates or blueberries.

Possible benefits of consuming matcha

Matcha powder and tea.
Matcha tea may reduce the risk of certain cancers and heart disease.

There have not been many direct studies on matcha. Some of the studies below refer to characteristics specific to matcha. Other studies refer to research on green tea. Because matcha is a concentrated form of green tea, it can be assumed that the benefits of green tea would be obtained from matcha as well.

Concentration and cognition

L-Theanine is an amino acid found in matcha that promotes a state of relaxation and well-being. Stress can induce beta waves in the brain.

Beta waves create an excited, more agitated brain state. L-Theanine creates alpha waves, which counteract beta waves. Alpha waves lead to a state of relaxed alertness.

L-Theanine is common in all tea, but matcha contains five times the amount of L-Theanine that is found in black and green teas. L-Theanine may help memory and learning ability, due to its ability to reduce distracting information, improving performance on cognitive tasks.

Anticancerous properties

Matcha contains a unique class of antioxidant known as catechins, particularly the catechin EGCg (epigallocatechin gallate). EGCg provides potent cancer-fighting properties, including protecting cells from DNA damage and inhibiting tumor cell proliferation.

The strong antioxidant activity of tea polyphenols has also been attributed to cancer prevention, although the exact mechanism is not known.

Chlorophyll has antioxidant properties as well. A recent study showed that higher chlorophyll consumption correlated with lower rates of aflatoxin-associated liver cancer.

Chlorophyll is the element that gives green tea its color. Leaves grown in the shade have been shown to contain more chlorophyll. Because matcha is carefully grown in the shade, it is substantially richer in chlorophyll than other green teas.

According to the National Cancer Institute, the polyphenols in tea have been shown to decrease tumor growth in laboratory studies. In countries where green tea consumption is high, cancer rates tend to be lower, although it is impossible to know whether this is because of green tea consumption or other lifestyle factors.

Type 2 diabetes

Studies concerning the relationship between green tea and diabetes have been inconsistent. Some have shown a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes for green tea drinkers than for those who consumed no tea, while other studies have found no association between tea consumption and diabetes at all.

Heart disease

A 2006 study published in JAMA concluded that green tea consumption is associated with reduced mortality due to all causes, including cardiovascular disease. The study followed over 40,000 Japanese participants between the ages of 40 and 79 for 11 years, starting in 1994.

The participants who drank at least 5 cups of green tea per day had a significantly lower risk of dying (especially from cardiovascular disease) than those who drank less than one cup of tea per day.

Another study found that consuming 10 cups of green tea per day can lower total cholesterol, however, consuming 4 cups or less had no effect on cholesterol levels.

Although this has not been specifically studied with matcha, because matcha is essentially very potent green tea, it could be expected that this effect occurs with the consumption of matcha in much lower quantities.

How to incorporate more matcha into your diet

Matcha green tea lattes.
There are many ways to incorporate matcha into your diet; iced tea is just one option.

A teaspoon of matcha powder is mixed with one third of a cup of hot water to form a liquid. This can be consumed as a hot tea or poured over ice. Sometimes this is mixed with foamed milk to make a matcha latte.

Quick tips:

  • Drink matcha instead of coffee or as a quick pick-me-up
  • Add matcha powder to smoothies
  • Mix matcha powder into oatmeal
  • Make homemade granola bars using matcha
  • Add matcha to simple salad dressings, using part oil, part vinegar, a little sweetener and the matcha powder.

Or, try these healthy and delicious recipes developed by registered dietitians:

Matcha tea green smoothie
Matcha green tea latte popsicles
Orange matcha iced tea
Matcha green granola bar.

Matcha can be purchased at health food stores, specialty tea stores and online. Be sure the only ingredient is matcha powder; many packages or premixes will have added sugar, artificial sweeteners or other unnecessary ingredients.

Matcha is becoming more common and can sometimes be found as a specialty drink in cafés and coffee shops. It is also common for a high amount of sugar to be added to matcha served at a café. Ask if sugar is added and order unsweetened or lightly sweetened if possible.

Potential health risks of consuming matcha

It is the total diet or overall eating pattern that is most important in disease prevention and achieving good health. It is better to eat a diet with variety than to concentrate on individual foods as the key to good health.

Matcha has not been studied extensively. The health claims are new research and more research is need to solidify these claims. As with any newer food, there could be risks that have not yet been reported.