Have a cup of HERBAL TEA
Fresh or dried, the leaves and flowers of many herbs can be infused in water to extract their beneficial health properties to treat everyday ailments.
Atea, also known as an infusion or tisane (a French word for herbal infusion), is a simple way to access the health benefits of herbs – and enjoy their refreshing flavour. When steeped in water, the water soluble constituents of the herbs are extracted. Water is also the best way to extract polyphenols, including flavonoids, from herbs. Polyphenols have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic and healthful properties.
How to prepare a herbal tea
There are two ways to prepare a herbal tea. The first is by infusion, which uses the delicate plant parts, such as leaves and petals. It’s simply a matter of adding freshly boiled water to fresh or dried plant material and allowing it all to steep for a period of time, usually 10-15 minutes.
The second is a decoction, which involves boiling the herbs in water. This method is usually used for the tough woody parts, including the roots, bark, twigs and seeds. A slow simmer is usually required to extract the active constituents from these tougher parts of the herb.
Put your herb in a saucepan, cover with cold water, put a lid on and heat slowly. Let it simmer for 20-45 minutes.
The longer you simmer the herbs like this, the stronger your tea will be.
Some of the active constituents in herbs are not water soluble, so decocting or infusing the herb won’t extract these constituents. However, they may be soluble in oil. In such cases, herbalists usually extract the active constituents in olive oil or another vegetable oil.
Oil soluble (fat soluble) components include fatty acids, carotenoids, lipids and vitamins A,D, E and K, among others. If you’re looking to extract Vitamin E from your herbs, as an example, then an oil extraction is the way to go.