Prepackaged herbs for tea are available at any grocery store, but making them yourself gives access to a wide variety of flavor combinations. Use our secret sauce for better tea blends.

Because we live in a cold climate herbal tea is a regular part of most days. I may start off with one or two cups of coffee for a pick-me-up, but drinking herbal tea throughout the day gives me a boost of vitamins and medicinal benefits with each cup. You can use homegrown herbs for tea or purchase dried herbs in bulk. Either way, don’t pass up on the easy and healthy benefits you get by drinking herbal tea daily.

30 herbs for the best tea blends

What is the difference between a tea and an infusion?

Short answer: Tea has a shorter brewing time than an infusion.

Tea is made with a short infusion time of up to 15 minutes that extract the flavonoids from the herbs, but leaves a lot of the minerals behind. By brewing herbs with a long infusion of 4 to 8 hours, more of the minerals are extracted into the liquid. This leaves the minerals in the infusion ready to be assimilated when you drink it.

 

 

When you brew herbs is it a tea or a tisane?

Herbal tea is technically a ‘tisane’ since it is not brewed from the traditional tea leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. I will still use the term tea in this article as I discuss the ways to make an herbal tea, herbal decoction, and herbal infusion.

dry herbs and flowers with a silver spoon

How to make your own custom herbal tea blends

Herbal Tea has been around since people started using plants for pleasure and medicine, so we often have an underlying motivation when making an herbal tea. It could be used for relaxation after a long day at work, as a way to support our immune system, or as a refreshing cool beverage on a warm day.

Choose loose herbs with this formula:

  • Start with a dried herb as the base ingredient. These herbs will have a mellow flavor that will go with most complementary and accent herbs.  These are the herbs with that have the main flavor or herbal action that you want.  For instance when making an herbal tea for relaxation you may use chamomile as your main herb.

Chamomile tea, called manzanilla or “little apple” in Spanish, due to its apple-like scent, is one of the best herbal remedies for anxiety and sleeplessness. A cup of manzanilla tea before bed soothes and relaxes the mind, without leaving you groggy in the morning. It is safe for young children, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and the elderly. And while you probably know it well as a sleep and anxiety remedy, you probably didn’t realize that manzanilla tea is one of the best remedies for tummy upset, nausea, and colicky pains, among its many other benefits.

  • Next, add a complementary ingredient for a different effect or flavor.  For instance, peppermint is often added to chamomile to add to the relaxing effect and to stimulate the taste buds.

Herbs to know, herbs to grow: Peppermint -- Joybilee Farm

  • The last ingredient is an accent herb which gives you the ability to add intense flavor that will round out the other two ingredients.  A berry or a little spice like cinnamon or fennel can be added to make the tea more interesting to your taste buds.

For those times when normal soothing and rocking doesn’t calm baby down you can make this DIY Gripe Water. Make it fresh as you need it.

Start by combining 3 parts (3 teaspoons) base ingredient, 1 to 2 parts complementary herb (1 to 2 teaspoons), and 1/4 to 1 part (1/4 to 1 teaspoon) of accent herbs and spices.  Use 1 to 3 teaspoons of this mixture for your tea.  Always cover the cup or tea pot to hold in the volatile oils.  These oils are where most of the flavor comes from as well as the therapeutic benefits of herbal tea.

 

You’ll want to start creating your original herb mixes in small batches so you can make adjustments as you are perfecting your recipes.

Pine needle tea has significant amounts of vitamin C, vitamin A, and flavoniods that make it a citrus-y flavored tonic drink to forage in winter.

Tips for brewing tea and infusions

When working with leaves and flowers pour boiling water over the plant material. Commercial Tea Bags contain about 1 gram of tea. When making healing herbal tea you need to use at least 1 tablespoon of plant material, which is about 3 to 5 tea bags of commercial herbal tea. Cover the cup or French press to prevent volatile oils from escaping. Steep 15 minutes. Strain and drink.

Some base herbs to consider:

  • Mint – spearmint, peppermint, apple mint
  • Bee Balm (Monarda)
  • Lemon Balm
  • Raspberry Leaf
  • Lemon Verbena
  • Anise Hyssop
  • Lemongrass
  • Chamomile
  • Yerba Mate
  • Stinging Nettle
  • Linden flowers
  • Dandelion Root

Complementary herbs and spices might include

  • Lavender
  • Rosemary
  • Rose hips
  • Hibiscus flowers
  • Lemon Thyme
  • Calendula
  • Elderberry
  • Pine Needles

herbs hanging to dry

Accent herbs and spices to consider

  • Cinnamon bark
  • Ginger (dried or candied)
  • Lemon zest
  • Orange zest
  • Jasmine flowers
  • Rose petals
  • Cardamom pods
  • Star anise
  • Cloves
  • Turmeric
  • Fennel seeds

Herbal bath tea soothes and cools summer skin rashes, bites, and minor sun burns, while it calms and relaxes. You can make it in minutes from the herbs in your garden. This DIY herbal bath tea project makes a lovely and unique gift for those who could use a little spa time in their hectic schedule. Bring the healing power of herbs to your bathing rituals.

How to Make an Herbal Decoction

When working with harder herbal materials like seeds, roots, and dried fruit you need to simmer the herbs in water to soften them and release their beneficial qualities into the water.

  • Simmer at least 1 tablespoon of herbs in 2 cups of water, in a covered saucepan for 15 minutes. During the simmering process, some of the water will evaporate.
  • Remove the herbs from the heat and allow the decoction to steep an additional 15 minutes before straining. Strain and drink.

Herbal tea and decoctions don’t keep long, so be sure to put any unused portions in the refrigerator.

This process makes your drink high in valuable protein, minerals, and active ingredients, the things your body needs, but also the things that bacteria like to thrive in. Your herbal decoctions should be made fresh daily.

Dandelion contains a powerful antioxidant, detoxifier, and liver and kidney tonic? Dandelion root tea has been shown to reduce cancer tumors and resolve leukemia in scientific studies in Canada. It reduces the body's toxic load allowing the body's own detoxification system to function optimally, reversing cancer and other health issues. You have this miracle herb, dandelion root, growing near you, just waiting to be harvested and used in your daily tonic tea. Learn to use this powerhouse for health before it becomes illegal.

Nourishing Herbal Infusions

Infusions are made with herbs that don’t necessarily have a pleasant taste so you may have trouble getting other family members to drink up. You can make them more palatable by adding a bit of tulsi, lemon balm, peppermint or anise hyssop to the infusion to sweeten the flavor.

Brewing herbs with a long infusion will take from 4 to 8 hours, but the extra time with worth it. More of the minerals found in the plants are extracted into the resulting liquid. This leaves the minerals in the infusion ready to be assimilated when you drink it.

Try 1 teaspoon of these flavor enhancers per 2 cups of infusion, and steep it along with the nourishing, mineral-rich herbs, to make them more palatable for the uninitiated. Tulsi goes really well with stinging nettle and is a little less “green” tasting, according to my husband.

Nourishing herbal long infusions were made popular by herbalist Susan Weed. Susan suggests rotating a daily drink of nourishing herbal infusions, rotating between different herbs. Try these instead of chemical vitamins for your one-a-day habit.

Since these are food there are no contraindications, unless you are allergic to one of these herbs.

Chamomile tea, called manzanilla or “little apple” in Spanish, due to its apple-like scent, is one of the best herbal remedies for anxiety and sleeplessness. A cup of manzanilla tea before bed soothes and relaxes the mind, without leaving you groggy in the morning. It is safe for young children, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and the elderly. And while you probably know it well as a sleep and anxiety remedy, you probably didn’t realize that manzanilla tea is one of the best remedies for tummy upset, nausea, and colicky pains, among its many other benefits.

5 Herbal Infusion Tea Recipes

Burdock Root
(Per serving: 1 ounce in 2 cups of boiled water, brew for 8 hours)
Very high in chromium, iron, magnesium, silicon, and thiamine; high in cobalt, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, tin, vitamin A, and zinc

Milky Oats
(Per serving: 1 ounce in 4 cups of boiled water, brew for 4 hours)
Very high in chromium, magnesium, silicon, and sodium; high in calcium, niacin, and vitamin A

Red Clover Flowers
(Per serving: 1 ounce in 4 cups of boiled water, brew for 2 hours)
Very high in chromium and tin; high in calcium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine, and vitamin C

Red Raspberry Leaf
(Per serving: 1 ounce in 4 cups of boiled water, brew for 4 hours)
Very high in iron, manganese, and niacin; high in calcium, magnesium, selenium, tin, vitamin A, and vitamin C

Stinging Nettle
(Per serving: 1 ounce in 4 cups of boiled water, brew for 4 hours)
Very high in calcium, chromium, magnesium, and zinc; high in cobalt, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, riboflavin, selenium, silicon, thiamin, vitamin A, and vitamin C

Nourishing herbal infusions should also be kept refrigerated after their steeping time. Make enough to use them fresh each day.

 

Creative Ways to Use Herbal Tea and Infusions

You can use a common tree that is easy to find and tastier than you might think when you learn how to Make Pine Needle Tea for Vitamin C and Wellness.

Our article Planning Your Herbal Tea Garden for Increased Potency and Better Flavor Even if You Live in Zone 3 has recipes for Morning Tea and Relaxing Tea. 

Once you arrive at an herbal tea recipe that you love, use this idea from Food52, and make cookies with your tea blends. This recipe for vanilla rooibos tea cookies could be adapted for any herbal blend you’ve created. Or try these tea bag cookies for your next tea time.

Summertime is the time for Iced Tea and other cooling drinks

You can take your herbal tea and infusions to the next level when you use them to make Inspiring Botanical Drinks, Mixers, and Elixirs for a Healthier Summer.

This masterclass will help you:

  • Kick the soda habit
  • Reduce the sugar in your summer drinks
  • Craft healthy and inspiring drinks that your family will love right from your garden
  • Create healthier frozen treats and ice pops with the perfect texture and mouth feel