Whenever we think about herbs, one of our primary concerns is how to extract the active constituents in the best manner. We want to get the right constituents out, we want the delivery method to be effective, and we want the extraction to last. We also like to make the extraction practice as accessible as possible, which is why water is so ideal.
Water extraction, also called infusion or decoction, has been used for centuries. It’s a universal delivery method that almost every person and culture has access to. The one drawback is its short shelf life, which can make it less desirable if you’re someone who wants to prepare and forget it.
However, water does draw out many constituents that we as herbalists are looking for and, as long as you have a few handy tools, making a water infusion can be very convenient.
Some simple tools
French press – This allows you to make more than 1 cup at a time and avoid having to use additional strainers. Simply place the herbs in the pot, cover with hot water and secure the lid. Once it’s steeped the right amount of time, simply press the plunger down and drink. You can even use it for making nourishing herbal infusions by following the same directions but putting it in the refrigerator overnight to extract all the nutrients before plunging.
Tea Bags – I make sure to purchase tea bags that are not bleached. I have a large array of sizes from very small to large. Some of my tea bags are cloth, while others are disposable one-off bags for traveling.
Mason Jars of all sizes – Jars make it easy to brew sun tea, make cold infusions or you can use it as a replacement for a mug. The benefit here is the ability to put the lid on and pop it into the refrigerator to consume later.
Fine Mesh Tea Infuser – I tend to stay away from most tea infusers because they leave a lot of finer tea pieces in the cup. This doesn’t really bother me, but most of my friends are not herbalists and they don’t like “floaties.” This particular tea infuser is amazing:
I love it because it opens on both the top and the bottom, making cleaning super easy. It has very fine mesh screen keeping everything stays inside, and it’s large enough to put a meaningful amount of herb in the infuser and allow room for expansion.