Since moving to London, I’ve had tea on the brain. Browsing through all the fancy tea shops is almost as fun for me as a trip to Sephora.
In addition to the lovely proper teas, they have a great assortment of herbal teas: peppermint, nettle, raspberry leaf, liquorice. Yum! Unfortunately herbal tea is a bit of a misnomer. There’s no tea in these, just herbs. The proper name for them is herbal infusion. Call it what you like, but I think we should all have more of them in our daily lives.
If you’re not a fan of herbal tea yet, you might want to give them another try. They’re caffeine free of course, but more importantly, you get some herbal goodness with every cup.
But the problem with herbal tea bags is that quality herbal teas are expensive! You can’t customize a pre-made tea bag for your own tastes. And (if you care about organic/pesticides/or even getting what it says on the tin) you can’t tell what’s inside those little baggies.
I never realized how cheap and easy it is to make your own herbal teas that taste even better than the ones you buy!
Let’s start by making a thyme infusion. Why thyme? Well, simply because you probably have it in your spice rack!
Thyme is also tasty, easy to grow, very common, useful in cooking, and has traditional uses to soothe respiratory infections like colds/flus.
Note: Traditional usage says to avoid large doses of thyme during pregnancy.
- Thyme (dried or a handful of fresh)
- Hot water
- A covered container for brewing & straining (I use a french press. You could also use a traditional tea pot, or even a separate container and kitchen strainer)
Put some herbs in your brewing container - about 1 tsp dried herbs per cup of water. For fresh herbs, use more. Generally this is pretty laissez-faire - try it, if it's too strong, use less next time.
Pour over water that's just off the boil.
Very important - COVER. You need to cover your brewing container while the herbs are infusing. This traps all of the volatile oils in the tea, rather than evaporating in the air.
Infuse around 5 minutes. (This depends on the herb ... if you want medicinal benefits, you may need to steep it longer so look it up in a herb book.)
Strain and serve. Put the left over soggy herbs in the compost.
Mmmm hot fresh herbal infusion. How does it taste? Well, it tastes like thyme (no big surprise there). OK, admittedly, it’s not my favorite infusion – but I love it when I have a cold and my throat starts feeling scratchy. It’s especially good with some honey and a squeeze of fresh lemon! If thyme’s not your thing, you can try this with almost any herb that you normally eat: sage (also great for cold/flu!), mint (helps digestion), chamomile (relaxing), nettle (wear gloves! very cleansing, the fresh is good in spring/autumn only). One of my absolute favorites is fresh lemon verbena leaves which I have growing in a pot on my patio! Once you start making infusions, you’ll see possibilities everywhere.
Have you made your own herbal infusion? What’s your favorite kind of herbal tea that we could recreate at home? Would love to hear your experiences.