Fresh Clips: Infusions and Decoctions

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Q. What’s the difference between an infusion and a decoction?

A. Both extract the properties of a plant for consumption, but an infusion is usually made with flowers or leaves, while a decoction is generally made with roots or bark.

Infusion: Made by steeping leaves or flowers in a liquid (most often water) to extract the plant’s active ingredients. Can be done in hot or cold water, but hot is most efficient.
Example: Chamomile tea
Used for: Sleep aid

Decoction: Best suited to the harder parts of a plant (namely the bark, roots or berries) this method boils or simmers the plant part to extract the plant’s active ingredients.
Example: Ginger tea
Used for: Pain relief or tummy soothing

Allison Martin is managing editor at The Herb Companion.