The Forager's Path - School of Botanical Studies

The Secrets of Mineral-Rich Herbal Teas

Plant medicines help us in many ways. Some plants have a strong medicinal effect due to alkaloids, polysaccharides or other constituents. Many other plants straddle the food-medicine border and are simply considered ‘healthy’ due to their high mineral content.

A common, easy and effective way to get minerals from the herbs is to use a tea. More specifically, this is known as the hot infusion method. To make a mineral rich infusion, simply place one ounce of dried herb in a quart jar or French Press. Add one quart hot water, cover and let steep for several hours or overnight. Drink the tea freely throughout the day.

The 1:32 ratio of herb to water is important. A smaller amount can be made, such as 1/2 oz. herb to 16 oz. water, as long as the ratio is maintained. While people new to the use of herbs may find drinking a quart of tea a day to be a bit much, it is not uncommon. Many folks heat the water at bedtime and let it steep all night. Sipping the infusion throughout the day is a good alternative to the mega sodas, energy drinks and whipped cream coffee so common today.

The two principles to remember when making mineral tea are: amount of herb and duration of infusion time. One ounce of plant material per quart of water is necessary to receive a sufficient quantity of minerals. The one ounce of dried herb is equivalent to approximately four ounces of fresh plant, so this mineral beverage is like a liquid salad.

Duration of time is required for the water to extract minerals from the plant. This is also very different from the tea bag method. A five minute steep may turn the water a dark color or give the drink a pleasant flavor. However, it is not enough time to allow all the health promoting minerals to be extracted into the water. Keep the container covered and allow the clock to do its job.

Taste is sometimes an issue when embarking on the use of herbs. This is not surprising to those of us raised on foods that were mostly sweet or salty and always refined. My view is that herbs taste like nature. They taste real. After incorporating these plants into our lifestyle, they begin to taste good. In the long term, we need to make the adjustment to these flavors and aromas. It won’t be long before these are seen as normal and the processed foods seem unusual. In the short term, try adding honey or mixing these herbs with peppermint tea for a sweeter or more familiar taste.

Which herbs should we use in this way? Mark Pedersen’s book, “Nutritional Herbology” is an excellent resource that delivers on what is promised in the title and comes highly recommended. A few herbs to start with are: nettles, alfalfa, burdock, raspberry leaf, oatstraw and red clover. Pedersen covers 93 plants in great detail, listing specific herbs, minerals and amounts. As nettles is one of my favorite plants, I’ll share some nutritional details for it: 1 oz. of dried nettles contains calcium – 1000 mg; magnesium – 290 mg and potassium – 580 mg.

Preparing mineral infusions with this method is an effective and safe way to begin using herbal medicines. Enjoy!


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