Herbs have been known for centuries to yield beneficial results in fighting illness. The oldest accounts come from the Orient. Chinese medicine methods include many herbal components prepared as pills, teas, or extracts. All parts of the plant can be used in herbal teas: flowers, seeds, berries, stems, leaves, bark and roots. Infusions are basically teas that are brewed longer than typical tea.

A herbal infusion involves soaking herbs in water to extract their scent, flavor, and healing properties. To make an herbal infusion, you'll need one ounce of dried herbs or two ounces of fresh herbs, and 2 cups of water. You'll also need a teapot and a strainer. Both the flavor and healing properties will be infused into the water that you will be drinking. The herbs you choose should have soft leaves and flowers; those with hard leaves or flowers will not infuse as well, so the herbal infusion will not be very strong. Root teas will need to be steeped longer.

Here's how to make an herbal infusion:

Boil the water.

The hot water is necessary to extract the properties of the herb. If you try to make an herbal infusion with cold or lukewarm water, it will not work. Boil the water in a tea kettle at a ratio of 2 cups of water for every ounce of dried herbs or 2 ounces of fresh. Place water on the stove to boil. For the best results and most benefit from the herbs, use either distilled or spring water. Bring it to the boil.

Add the herbs.

Take the water off the heat, and immediately add your chosen herbs to the water. Measure into a teacup 1 to 2 tsps. of the herb that you are using. The herbs may be fresh or dried. If you are using an herb that consists of stems, leaves, bark or roots, it will be best to pulverize them with a mortar and pestle. Stir to mix the herbs into the water, and then let the mixture sit and cool for at least 10 minutes. If you are using bark, stems, or roots a longer infusion time will be needed. Times of infusion can range up to 10 hours and will depend on which herb you are using.

Strain the mixture.

After 10 minutes, the water will have extracted the herbal properties from the herbs. Strain this infused water and discard the herbs, drink immediately when the infusion time has expired. Use cheesecloth if you want to remove all of the pieces of the herbs from the infusion, or a metal strainer if you want some flakes of the herb to remain.

Using the herbal infusion.

Strain into a cup if you plan to drink it now, and drink it like tea. You can drink it hot or iced. You may add a bit of unrefined sugar or salt or honey to adjust the taste if needed. If you plan to use the herbal infusion later, strain it into a jar with a tight fitting lid, and refrigerate until used. The recommended dose is 2-4 teacups of the herbal infusion per day.

One-Cup Infusion

Sometimes you may wish to make your herbal infusion one cup at a time. This is sometimes the most convenient way to satisfy your needs and cuts down on the chances of wasting infusion or herbs. There are two different ways to make a one-cup infusion with a small teapot or with what is called a tisane cup (which can be found at a variety of specialty shops).

A tisane cup usually involves a cup and saucer that possesses a strainer with a lid that fits on top. It is often considered one of the less time-consuming ways to make an herbal infusion. First, you will place two teaspoonfuls of dried herb into the strainer. The strainer is then placed within the cup. Next, freshly boiled water is then poured on top of the herbs. The lid should then be put onto the strainer, where the tea is allowed to infuse for about 10 minutes. The last step is to carefully remove the strainer.

Herbal Teabags

Homemade herbal teabags make great traveling companions when the need for an infusion-on-the-go comes up and also if you don't want to use any of the methods above. Many individuals enjoy their capacity to fit inside of an office desk as well. All you need to do is place 1 to 2 teaspoons of chosen herbs on a square made from muslin. Next, tie it into a small bundle using a piece of string. When you are in need of a cup of tea, all you have to do is infuse the bundle in a teacup filled with freshly brewed hot water for about 10 minutes.

Herbal infusions are often used to treat ailments such as colds and insomnia. This is a natural method for providing relief and comfort. You can also create an herbal infusion using oil, for use in soap and other toiletries. Heat about half a cup of herbs with 16 ounces of oil (jojoba, olive, or coconut) slowly, and simmer for an hour. Strain through cheesecloth, and use the herb infused oils as you would use regular oils when making your own recipes and remedies.

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