I often hear my clients ask, “How do I get the most out of your teas?”
If you've been wondering how to make the best cup of tea, and how to make the most out of your beautiful bag of loose herbs, keep reading!
I've loved loose teas since the day I started experimenting with herbs back in 2008. I see the appeal of tea bags - they're convenient and simple, and sometimes even have a nice quote on the tag!
But, as I've learned over the years, it's about what's inside that really matters.
The advantages of loose teas are many, and I feel it's helpful to enumerate a few of them in order to learn more about how to make the perfect cup of tea and get the most out of our plant allies.
Loose teas are made with whole plant parts, so you receive the full healing potential of the herb.
You can also rinse loose teas without virtually loosing any of the flavor or potency.
Loose teas also allow you to adjust the strength of your tea; and, I always suggest trying a second run with the herbs - you get two cups for the price of one!
Below, I'll give more details on the step-by-step process to make the perfect cup:
1. Step one: Choose Your Vessel
There are many options for what to make tea in, and, maybe not surprisingly, I have found the best one to be a teapot, with a mesh loose tea holder.
I prefer a teapot because it is the best design to complete the other steps to make the perfect cup.
A teapot also seems to make the perfect amount for me.
Another great option for loose tea is a French press. It is a bit more tricky to rinse your herbs but it can be done, and it makes plenty of tea to share or put away for later.
My other long time favorite choice is to simply add the loose herbs to a pot of boiling water and letting it steep off the heat. You can then pour the tea through a handheld mesh strainer into your teacup.
My least favorite way to make loose tea is in a single-serving tea caddy or mesh tea ball. The herbs don't have as much room to expand and steep in the water, and I find it much more challenging to make a strong cup.
If you really just want one cup, I recommend using a handheld mesh strainer, as big as will fit in your mug. Let it sit on the rim of the mug and add your herbs, followed by boiling hot water.
2. Step two: Choose your herbs
Herb selection is super important! If you have any medical conditions or sensitivities, do yourself the favor of researching the herbs you're consuming.
If you're generally healthy, the herbs that I use in my blends will generally not aggravate anything. However, if you notice weird symptoms after drinking, take a break, do some research and adjust accordingly.
The amount of herbs used is important as well. In general, one teaspoon of loose herbs to one eight-ounce cup is a great place to start. Some teas need less herbs. The Chai Detox blend, for example, is made up of roots and seeds that are tiny and very potent, so less can be used.
You can make your tea stronger by steeping for longer.
3. Step three: Rinse Your Herbs
One thing I love about using loose teas in a teapot is that it's very easy to rinse your herbs.
Rinsing them sanitizes them, removes any dust or pollen particles, and opens the herbs up for deeper infusion.
Simply pour your freshly boiled water over the herbs into your teapot. I fill up about half way. Then take out the mesh tea holder with your rinsed herbs and dump out the rinse-water.
This rinse water actually has a formal name: Foot Bath Water, because it's only good use is for bathing the feet!
This is actually another wonderful step you can add to your tea drinking experience. Save your foot bath water and use it as a botanical foot soak while you enjoy your tea!
I like to rinse out my teapot once the foot bath water is dumped out to remove ALL excess dust and particulates.
Once your herbs are rinsed, simply add more boiled water to your pot, and let steep.
4. Step four: The Steeping Process
It is a good idea to cover your teapot with its lid while your tea steeps to receive all of the medicinal benefits and flavors.
Let your herbs steep for about 10 minutes. Most herbs cannot be over-steeped, however you will notice more bitter tones exposed as you steep for longer.
5. Step five: Pour and Enjoy!
Making tea is really not that complicated! But it does take a little practice to get the perfect cup for yourself.
I do my very best to create blends that don't need any extras like honey or lemon to taste amazing. But these elements have their own benefits as well, and if you have them on hand, they can make your tea oh-so drinkable.
Honey, agave, lemon, lime or a milk of your choosing can be lovely additions. Fresh citrus peel, fresh ginger, a bay leaf or sprig of mint are things you could also add to the steeping process if you're feeling like you want to change things up a bit and add a digestive boost.
Finally, take a moment, even if it's a split second, to acknowledge how yummy your tea tastes and feels in your body. Acknowledge all of the efforts from communities all over the world that worked to bring you this gorgeous cup of tea. Acknowledge the energy of the sun, and the plants special, miraculous power of absorbing sunlight and turning it into nourishment for you.
6. Step six: Extras and Storage
I almost always pour more boiling water over my used herbs once my pot is near empty, sometimes even a second time if the herbs seemed really potent and strong.
I find it much easier to drink warm water than cold, and this is a great way for me to get the most out of my plant allies and stay hydrated.
If you have extra tea leftover, you can save it in a mason jar in the fridge. Drink it cold on a hot day, or reheat it gently on the stove top. Some herbs don't like to be boiled, so I recommend taking it off the heat right before it reaches its boiling point.
Leftover tea should stay fresh for up to a week in the fridge.
I hope this tea blog has been helpful to you in your adventures with herbs and plant medicines! I am always learning more about them and how to work with them, and I would love to hear about your favorite ways to make tea. If you feel like sharing, let us know in the comments!
Blessings and Cheers!