liquid in which some plant material has been set and has imparted some
of the plant material essence and flavor is called either a tea,
tisane, infusion or decoction. There is no hard and fast demarcation
between the four, but, generally, a tea is Made from leaves that impart
their flavor and characteristics quickly, a tisane from leaves that do
so less quickly, an infusion from plant material that is placed in oil
or water and left for a long time and a decoction from plants, often including roots,
that are placed in liquid which has heat added to it. There are many
plants besides the familiar commercial products which will make a tea.
Fresh greens, flowers and
buds of a wide variety of plants and trees can all be used to make tea.
Every time you leave your home you
should come back with a handful of tea leaves to make a pot of tea.
to recognize the useful or edible shoots, buds, leaves, flowers and
greens in your area. Learn to recognize the trees as many of them
produce edible or medicinal qualities in their leaves and bark. It
helps if you have something flavorful like fennel growing in your area.
If not, you can buy an herb tea with a strong flavor that you like to
augment your wild-picked tea, if desired. Be careful about not
harvesting them from areas where someone may have sprayed weed killer
in the past. If there is one dandelion growing next to the sidewalk,
leave it be. A lawn of dandelions is your free supermarket. (see Wild Food)
Making an infusion or
tisane (tea) for herbal or medicinal purposes
Put water into a baked enamel or other
non-reactive saucepan and bring to a boil. As soon as the water starts
turn off the heat and drop the leaves or other
plant material you
have gathered into it. Cover the saucepan and
let it steep 5 minutes. Make
sure the cover is airtight to hold in all the aroma, flavor and
volatile oils. Cover it with insulation to help keep it warm while
steeping. Enjoy your hot tea with raw honey or organic, unrefined
To make as
an herbal tonic
Let the remainder continue to steep in the
pot. In the evening, make it into a tonic by adding sugar syrup
and a yeast
starter and putting it into a plastic soda pop bottle and
screwing on the top. In a couple days when the bottle is firm and
cannot be squeezed, put it in the fridge to cool. To avoid plastic, you
can brew it in glass under an airlock and add a few raisins to it and
when the raisins begin to float, the tonic will be carbonated. (I would
not carbonated in glass with an airtight cover for fear of explosion.)
Making A Tea Or Tisane in a
Teapot or Cup
Boil water for tea in a baked enamel teakettle or a covered baked
enamel saucepan. Boiling water in an open saucepan allow the release of
oxygen which make the tea tastes flat.
When water is boiling, put herbs
or plant material and/or teabags in a cup or pot. Pour in the boiling
Cover the container so that no steam escapes. Keep covered pot in a
warm place and wait 5-10 minutes. Cover it with quilt or tea cozy, if
Ratio of herbs (including loose tea leaves) per hot water:
1 Tablespoon per quart
1 teaspoon per cup
can make your own
reduced-caffeine tea by soaking a teabag in hot
water for 30 seconds, discard (or drink) the tea and use the teabag to
make decaffeinated tea.
Ceanothus americanus L or New Jersey Tea shrub makes a good tea with no
caffeine. Raspberry and
mint leaves, especially lemon or bee balm, make a good tea.
Bring to a boil:
1 cup water
1 cinnamon stick
half a teaspoon of black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Add 1 teabag and
simmer for 10 minutes.
1 cup of milk
In a heated ceramic
1 tablespoon raw honey
1 drop vanilla extract
1/2 cup of tea
Stir and add:
1/2 cup of hot milk
Makes 2 cups
Japanese Knotweed or Itadori Tea
Japanese knotweed is considered an invasive weed in many western
countries, but it has many healthful properties, and you can often get
some for free if you walk along roadsides or riverbanks. Just make sure
no local authority has been putting poison on it. Knotweed is also good
to prevent soil erosion, but it spreads widely and needs grazing
animals to control it. Young shoots gathered in Spring and made into a
tea have been said by some people to promote consciousness, sensitivity and telepathy and is a traditional herbal remedy for heart disease and strokes.
young knotweed shoots in the spring. You can also make itadori out of
roots or older stems. Do not use leaves, which are supposed to contain
Cut the older stems or roots into pieces..
Put stems or chopped pieces into a blender with water and blend on high until plant material is well ground.
Put in slow cooker, cover and let simmer overnight.
Strain through a sieve or cotton flannel to remove shoots, pieces or pulp and sweeten to taste.
Store in refrigerator.