While you can purchase many herbs to brew your own tea, you may be considering growing plants in your backyard or collecting some from the wild, and use them for your tea. However, it is very important to know which plants are the best to use and which parts of the plant to use for herbal remedies. This is very important, especially if you plan of collecting plants for the wild for a variety of reasons.
The first is conservation. You have to know if the plant is protected. You wouldn’t want to be in trouble with the conservationists would you? While some plants contain benefits within the entire plant, such as the leaves, flowers and roots, other plants carry the benefits in only on specific part of the plant. One great example is the chokeberry which is a popular ingredient in homemade cough syrup. Since the health benefits and healing properties are in the cherry, you would only need to collect the cherries and leave the rest of the plant intact. Knowing which parts of the plants you can use, prevents unneeded waste and also prevents killing the entire plant.
Another reason is to prevent poisoning. While some parts of the plant are healing for use, other parts may be poisonous. One example is the rhubarb plant, which contains many health benefits by eating the stalk. However, the leaves of the plant can be poisonous. If you are using medicinal plants, it is best to grow them in your backyard garden. Many plants growing in the wild can be confused for safe plants where in fact they are actually poisonous. It is best to leave the wild plants to the expert herbalists.
A final reason is to know about the substance concentrations of the plant that you are considering. While the entire plant might be used for specific health ailments and conditions, some parts of the plants might have a stronger substance concentration than other parts. An excellent example is the white willow which is an excellent pain reliever. While the leaves of the plant can be used, it takes more of these than a strip of the inner bark. Even though it might take less effort to collect the leaves, you are going to take up more room in your kitchen.
Before you go collecting leaves, stems and roots from the wild, be sure to know what parts of the plants you are going to need. Always get the advice of a qualified herbalist so you do not confuse poisonous plants with safe ones.
Once you know what plants you can use-as well as the ones you should never use-as well as what part of the plant you are using, then you will know how you are going to brew your tea. Usually herbal teas are made in two different ways. These are infusions-where you add the parts of the plant to a cup of boiling water-and decoctions-where you place the herbs in a pan of water before you bring it to a boil. When you brew tea as an infusion the softer parts of the plant-such as the leaves and flowers-are used. Decoctions involve using the harder parts of a plant such as the bark or roots.
Brewing time differs between infusions and decoctions. With the softer parts of the plant, you only need to allow a cup of hot water to brew for fifteen minutes. However, with decoctions, it takes a longer time for the bark and roots to dissolve in the hot water.
When you decide if you are going to use the softer or harder parts of a plant, you will decide what type of tea you are going to make. Do you want a tea that you will help you fall asleep? Then you want to get herbs that contain calming and relaxing properties. If you are looking for a tea that provides you with headache or arthritic pain relief, then you are going to want to get herbs that contain anti-inflammatory properties. The best place to check if you are unsure about what you are doing is your local health food store. You can purchase high quality herbs there and the store owners are very knowledgeable in this field. You may even find books that contain recipes for a wide variety of healing teas.