Learn to prepare infusions or decoctions to make this nourshing men’s vital-a-tea.
Herbal medicine has been skyrocketing popularity in recent years, but despite its wide appeal, it has largely overlooked the unique needs of men. Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Healing for Men (Storey, 2017) profiles 29 herbs with a run-down of their particular benefits for the male system and a variety of suggested uses and preparation tips. Gladstar, long celebrated for her wealth of herbal knowledge and inventive recipes, has customized dozens of simple and effective formulas for men.
Purchase this book from the Mother Earth Living store: Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Healing for Men.
There are whole books devoted to the art of making tea. In fact, I’ve written many pages myself on this subject. But suffice it to say it’s probably the easiest preparation you can make in the kitchen. If you’ve never cooked a thing in your life, trust me, you can make a good cup of medicinal tea. There are two basic methods used for brewing herbs for medicinal purposes: infusions and decoctions.
Leaves, flowers, and other plant parts rich in aromatic oils and other heat-sensitive constituents require infusing or steeping, as opposed to simmering, because simmering them would cause rapid loss of those constituents. Simply boil 1 quart of water per 1 ounce of herb (or 1 cup of water per 1 tablespoon of herb), pour the hot water over the herb, cover, and let steep for 30 to 60 minutes.
That’s the general idea, but the exact proportion of water to herb and the required time to infuse varies greatly depending on the herb. Start out with the above proportions and then experiment. The more herb you use and the longer you let it steep, the stronger the brew. Let your taste buds and your senses guide you. And remember, for medicinal teas you want a stronger brew.
While every herb is different, here are a few tips for making the perfect infusion:
• Let the tea infuse for the length of time necessary to extract the medicinal constituents from the herbs. Generally the proper steeping time is anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes; the longer the stronger. The brew is done when the mixture tastes distinctly herbal. For a strong tea, let the herbs infuse overnight and strain the next morning.
• Make your tea in quart jars with tightfitting lids.
• A French coffee press is great for making medicinal teas, but don’t use the same one for coffee and herbs; the flavors will mingle. Cover the spout with a towel to keep the steam from escaping; it will carry away some of the vital medicinal properties.
Decoctions are used to make tea from the more tenacious parts of the plant, such as roots, barks, and hard seeds or nuts. These plant materials require more direct heat and longer exposure to the heat to release their healing constituents. Using the same proportions as for infusions (1 quart of water per 1 ounce of herb, or 1 cup of water per 1 tablespoon of herb), place the herbs in a pot of cold water, cover tightly, bring to a low simmer, and let simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. For a stronger decoction, simmer the herbs for 30 to 45 minutes, then turn off the heat and let the herbs sit overnight in the water.
A nourishing and delicious formula, Vital-a-Tea is formulated for its high vitamin and mineral content. Drink several cups a day if you’re feeling exhausted and depleted. You’ll experience its restorative properties within a few days.
2 parts hawthorn berries (or a combination of berries, leaves, and flowers)
2 parts lemon balm
2 parts milky oats
2 parts nettle leaf and root
1 part damiana
1 part hibiscus
1 part horny goat weed or raspberry leaf
Pinch of stevia (optional)
Combine the herbs and store in an airtight glass container.
To use: Drink 3 to 4 cups daily.
Though it’s not often mentioned in herbal literature, hawthorn is a wonderful remedy for “broken hearts,” depression, and anxiety. It is a specific medicine for men who have a difficult time expressing their feelings or who suppress their emotions.
“More subtly, hawthorn has the power to begin addressing deep emotional wounds or long unexpressed sentiments that weigh heavily on the heart.” — Guido Masé, herbalist
Excerpted from Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Healing for Men © by Rosemary Gladstar. Used with permission from Storey Publishing.
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