This article was first published in The Rabbit Hole: Vol 5, put out by The Shiny Squirrel
I’ve recently given up drinking water, turning instead to herbal infusions all day, every day. Hot, cold, cool, warm, or sometimes as a popsicle. The infusions I make as an apprenticing herbalist are delicious and nutrient-rich, providing support for different body systems. I might drink an infusion with peppermint thrown in to ease a stomach ache, rosemary to ward off a headache, vitex to regulate my cycle, or rose and lavender to relax. I especially love making infusions of plants I find growing wild in my yard like red clover, yarrow, dandelion, or bee balm.
Making Herbal Infusions
When I make an herbal infusion I generally use about 1 - 2 tsp of fresh picked or high-quality dry herb for every 1 cup of water. I make sure to let the herb steep for 5 - 10 minutes, covered to retain the beneficial volatile oils, in just- boiled water. In the summer I like to make a super-concentrated cup and mix it with cold water in a giant jar to keep in the fridge for several days.
Herbal Infusion Recipes
I’ve shared some of my favorite recipes for summer infusions below. While I listed the medicinal benefits of each, they can all just be enjoyed for flavor. Enjoy them hot or cold.
REFRESH: Salad burnet (½ part) and Mint (1 part)-- Fresh and cooling. Helps with stomach aches. Salad Burnet is an easy-to-grow garden herbs that’s wonderfully cucumber-y (you can also use cucumber if you can’t find salad burnet). Mint of all types (but especially peppermint) help stomach aches.
ZESTY: Hibiscus (1 part), Stevia (½ part), and Ginger (1 part)-- Tart, spicy, sweet, stimulating. Helps nausea, cramps. Hibiscus is high in vitamin C and surprisingly tart. Stevia adds sweetness. Ginger is the powerful plant in this recipe, providing nausea relief and stimulating circulation.
CITRUS: Lemon balm (1 part) and Bee Balm (½ part)-- Fruity, aromatic. Helps stomach aches and promotes relaxation. Lemon balm is both a balm for anxiety and stomach ache. Bee balm (one of my favorite summer herbs and reminiscent of Bergamot, the major flavor of Earl Grey) eases all kinds of digestive problems.
Drinking Hot vs Cold beverages
I’d be remiss not to mention something I’ve learned while studying herbal infusions that many find surprising. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine drinking cold water disrupts the harmony of the body. It cools the digestive system, slowing it down, and forces the body to do work to maintain its temperature, which ultimately makes you warmer. Drinking hot water, on the other hand, will make you sweat-- ultimately cooling. I personally drink a lot of my infusions at room temperature. Of course, a cool drink in summer just feels really lovely sometimes!