A 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.

Learn 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 boiling, 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 sugar.

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 hot water.

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 possible.

Ratio of herbs (including loose tea leaves) per hot water:
    1 Tablespoon per quart
    1 teaspoon per cup

Hawthorn leaves drying in a net bag.

Hawthorn can be made into a tea while leaves are still green. (Extra gathered leaves can be dried so they can be used for tea in the winter when there are no green leaves available.)

Other trees with leaves that are especially good for brewing tea are oak and birch. See Wild Food.
Some medicinal herbal teas
The most useful herbal tea or remedy you can learn about is one that is growing near you, you can positively identify and can easily pick. Studying about a lot of different herbal remedies does you no good unless you are planning a physic garden and need it to decide which plants you should buy. Gather these leaves if they are available to you. They can be used fresh and green or dry them as shown above to store them. See Home Remedies
These teas have been used traditionally:
Birch leaf http://windintheroses.googlepages.com/line.gif cleansing, expelling toxins
Dandelion leaf http://windintheroses.googlepages.com/line.gif edema
http://windintheroses.googlepages.com/line.gif headache, migraine
Mullein leaf http://windintheroses.googlepages.com/line.gif congestion
Red raspberry leaf http://windintheroses.googlepages.com/line.gif good for female hormone balance
Rosemary http://windintheroses.googlepages.com/line.gif memory
Wormwood or Artemesias
http://windintheroses.googlepages.com/line.gif expelling parasites

Reducing Caffeine

You 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
2 cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Add 1 teabag and simmer for 10 minutes.
1 cup of milk
In a heated ceramic mug put:
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.

Gather 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 oxalic acid.
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.


The Dandelion Celebration: A Guide to Unexpected Cuisine   by Peter Gail
Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers by Stephen Harr Buhner
Your Body's Many Cries for Water  by Fereydoon Batmanghelidj. This is a fascinating book. The author is a doctor who spent time in prison in Iran during the Revolution. Having no medicine, he cured many of the illnesses of his fellow-inmates with just water.

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