Herbal Infusions 101
Herbal infusions have been a small but deeply powerful part of my life now for some time.
I first became interested in herbal infusions when I came off the contraceptive pill after ten years. I’d listened to a few podcasts with herbalists and picked up a book called Herbal Healing for Women by Rosemary Gladstar.
I read the book cover to cover but never made anything from it because the infusions included a large number of herbs and I didn’t know where to source them all, nor did I really have the funds to be experimental with it at the time. A year or so later, I came across an infusion on Lacy Phillips blog that was incredibly simple. Nettle, goji and raspberry leaf.
I bought the ingredients and so began a long ass time of making it, drinking it, not drinking it, having to throw it out, wanting to like it, but also thinking it was disgusting.
Some people can drink infusions full strength straight away and love it. I am not one of those people. I started to introduce these herbs slowly. First at the strength of a herbal tea, and slowly, building up to 5 tablespoons of herbs per quart of water. I’ve been drinking infusions at this strength for a year and I know love the taste and crave the herbs daily.
What is the difference between herbal tea and herbal infusion?
The main difference is the amount of herb used and the time spent steeping. A herbal tea takes a small amount of herbs steeped for 5-10 minutes and enjoyed as a comforting, cosy beverage
A herbal infusion is anywhere from 1-3 tablespoons herb to cup of water steeped 4-6 hrs or overnight. A herbal infusion as seen as a nutritive supplement and is a great way to take a high concentration of easily digestible minerals straight into your system.
Infusions are considered to be very safe. They are almost like the restorative yoga of the herbal world. They work slowly, over time. Susun Weed says drinking your herbal infusion is like eating your greens every day.
How long does the infusion last?
Refrigerated it will last about 48hours, though it is best drunk in the first 24. Infusions (particularly nettle) taste better slightly chilled or room temperature. A squeeze of lemon or sprinkle of hibiscus can enhance the flavour. If you don’t finish your infusion (you can smell when it has started to ferment a little) give it to your plants. They LOVE it.
When should I drink it?
Any time of day! I generally don’t drink it straight before or after drinking anything caffeinated, to ensure the minerals stay in my body as much as possible, but I’m not overly strict about it.
Nutritive herbs make for great infusions. They are safe and contain a huge amount of easily absorbable vitamins and minerals. Think of nutritive herb infusions like having a green juice and a bunch of kale every day. The below are three nutritive herbs I have on a regular basis. All three work together to create a rich and supportive tonic.
Staple herb in every infusion for modern life. Nettle is deeply nutritious, grounding and blood building. It’s a great source of iron and supports the kidneys, liver, digestive tract, adrenals and metabolism. Through regular consumption of Nettle you’ll notice your hair and nails grow like crazy! Its great for PMS, low iron and maintaining steady levels of energy.
A deeply feminine herb, oat straw is considered one of the best remedies for feeding the nervous system. It has a smooth, sweet flavour, is moistening for the body and calms an overactive mind. Oat straw contains high amounts of calcium, manganese, B minerals and vitamin E. Ideal for building bones and taking your nerves from ragged and jumpy to soft and smooth.
A womens tonic. Super supportive for the reproductive system and menstrual health. A great source of iron as well as many other minerals. Works well in restoring your system when depleted or undernourished. Can have a strong taste in an infusion so start with a smaller amount.
If you are pregnant, please consult with a naturopath or herbalist first
On Creating Infusions
There is something so simple and special about creating infusions. It’s nice to interact with dried herbs everyday, especially when living in the city. I enjoy the ritual of turning the kettle to boil just before bed, taking a few spoonfuls of herbs into a quart ball jar, filling it up, giving it a stir, and putting on the lid. In the morning, its as simple as straining the infusion into a fresh jar, squeezing out every last drop and then composting the herbs or put them on your garden if you have one.
Where to learn more
I have learnt most of what I know from listening to herbal podcasts, reading books by Rosemary Gladstar and Susan Weed, googling and following naturopaths on Instagram, as well as through my own experience, trial and error. If you are interested, a book by Rosemary Gladstar might be the best place to start.
Where to buy?
I buy my herbs in bulk from Southern Light Herbs. After some feedback from instagram, I do recognise that going through the process of creating a wholesale account and ordering over the phone in fairly huge quantities is not the most user friendly option.
I have decided to create two basic infusion blends available for pick up in Sydney. The blends will come in 1 litre jars. One for menstrual health, and one for stress and the nervous system. Each jar will come with 20 serves at a medium strength. $35 per jar or two for $59 for this first batch. Please contact me to enquire.