HOW TO MAKE NOURISHING HERBAL INFUSIONS
An infusion is a large amount of herb brewed for a long time. Typically, one ounce by weight (about a cup by volume) of dried herb is placed in a quart jar, which is then filled to the top with boiling water, tightly lidded and allowed to steep for 4-10 hours. After straining, a cup or more is consumed, and the remainder chilled to slow spoilage. Drinking 2-4 cups a day is usual. Since the minerals and other phytochemicals in nourishing herbs are made more accessible by drying, dried herbs are considered best for infusions.
I make my infusions at night before I go to bed and they are ready in the morning. I put my herb in my jar and my water in the pot, and the pot on the fire, then brush my teeth (or sweep the floor) until the kettle whistles. I pour the boiling water up to the rim of the jar, screw on a tight lid, turn off the stove and the light, and go to bed. In the morning, I strain the plant material out, squeezing it well, and drink the liquid. I prefer it iced, unless the morning is frosty. I drink the quart of infusion within 36 hours or until it spoils. Then I use it to water my house plants, or pour it over my hair after washing as a final rinse which can be left on.
My favorite herbs for infusion are nettle, oatstraw, red clover, and comfrey leaf, but only one at a time. The tannins in red clover and comfrey make me pucker my lips, so I add a little mint, or bergamot, when I infuse them, just enough to flavor the brew slightly. A little salt in your infusion may make it taste better than honey will.
QUESTIONS - AND ANSWERS - ABOUT NOURISHING HERBAL INFUSIONS
Can I use fresh herbs instead of dried herbs when making my nourishing herbal infusion?
No. The herbs I use for my nourishing herbal infusions - such as nettle, oatstraw, red clover, comfrey leaf, linden flowers, chickweed, or mullein leaves - contain little or no volatiles to be lost in drying. Rather, drying liberates their minerals and other nourishing constituents.
Can I brew my infusion as "sun tea"?
No. It is important to pour boiling water over the dried herb to help liberate the minerals.
How can I make nourishing herbal infusion for lots of people?
When we make nourishing herbal infusion for 30 at the Wise Woman Center, we begin by boiling 4 gallons of water in our biggest pot. Then we add one pound of herb (16 ounces in one pound, and 16 quarts in 4 gallons), stirring well until the water boils again. We cover the pot well with a tight-fitting lid, turn off the fire, and allow to steep right there overnight.
Can I make enough infusion to last for a whole week?
No. It is best to make infusion fresh each day. Once made, nourishing herbal infusions spoil rapidly. Refrigeration lengthens the time the infusion is good to drink. Depending on many factors, including the herb used and the indoor temperature during the brewing, refrigerated infusion is usually good for at least 24 hours, sometimes as much as 72 hours.
How can you tell if your infusion has spoiled?
If a nourishing herbal infusion tastes funny, smells odd, and/or has bubbles in it, it is no longer fit to drink.
What can you do with spoiled infusion?
All is not lost; spoiled infusion makes a perfectly good hair rinse and a superb plant food.
Are infusions safe for children?
Not only are nourishing herbal infusions safe for children, children love nourishing herbal infusions. Children who drink nourishing herbal infusions instead of fruit juice are frequently healthier and more robust.
What's wrong with fruit juice?
Fruit juices are really quite sweet: drinking them daily can promote tooth decay and obesity. They are expensive, and actually contain little nutrients in proportion to calories. Nourishing herbal infusions, even if sweetened with honey, have a much more favorable nutrient density to calorie ratio. (Caution: Do not give honey to infants under one year of age.)
Can I drink too much nourishing herbal infusion? Or eat too much seaweed?
You may be astonished by your desires for nourishing herbs once you begin to use them regularly. This is quite common. When you have absorbed all the minerals you need, your cravings will naturally disappear. So, no, it is not really possible to drink too much nourishing herbal infusion or eat too much seaweed.
Is it true that you don't take supplements?
It is. I haven't taken supplements for more than 25 years. I do eat a healthy whole foods diet, drink nourishing herbal infusions daily, consume lots of yogurt, and take time for my weekly (for 35 years) yoga, and twice-a-week (for 5 years) tai chi classes.
How much infusion do you drink?
I drink 2-4 cups of nourishing herbal infusion a day, plus I use several tablespoons of mineral-rich herbal vinegars on my wild salad daily, and plenty of garlic, onions, mushrooms, and seaweed.
How do you like to take your herbal infusion?
I prefer to drink my nourishing herbal infusion iced. Although I may prefer my comfrey infusion hot and with honey if the wind is howling and the snow blowing outside. Some salt or miso or umeboshi vinegar in nettle infusion is another interesting variation I enjoy.