The amazing healing properties of herbs are well-known, and many of us brew up our daily mugs of herbal tea to get those benefits in a simple, safe, and effective way… but did you know that there are easy things you can do to dramatically increase the healing potency of your favorite brews?
Put these three simple tips to work as you enjoy your favorite steeped herbs and you’ll enjoy more aroma, more flavor, and a lit more healing power!
1 – Cover Your Cup!
I am constantly on a soapbox about this tip because I see so many herbal tea enthusiasts skip over it – and I see many tea shops do the same thing.
When tea steeps in hot water, active ingredients in the herbs – especially essential oils – are released from the plant material. As the steam vapor rises, these oils can tag along for the ride and end up everywhere but in your cup. A cup of herbal tea steeped without a lid will have less flavor and aroma, but more importantly it will have less active healing ingredients since they will have been lost to the process of evaporation.
You can find some amazing herbal tea mugs on the market these days that have perfectly fitting lids like the one below (click the image for details), or you can use a small saucer or stone coaster over your favorite mug.
Keep your mug covered during the full steeping time, then replace the cover between sips.
2 – Don’t Hang Loose!
I’m as big a fan of convenience as the next person, but there are some instances where we just shouldn’t take shortcuts. While the average tea bag makes it super easy and quick to brew up a hot cuppa, what it causes us to lose out on doesn’t make it worthwhile.
Most tea bags on the market are filled with a pulverized blend of herbs. When the herbs are taken from their whole form and ground so that they fit into the tea bag, their surface area is increased thousands of times. This causes their active essential oils to break down extremely quickly and even go rancid. It also causes other active ingredients as well as aromas, colors, and flavors to break down very fast.
Most pre-packaged herbal tea blends in tea bags you buy at the store have likely been in those boxes for over 6 months time. This means that the herbs inside regardless of how they may be packaged are dry, lifeless, and dull.
One of the best things you can do for yourself is learn how to work with organic whole herbs. It’s super easy, great fun, and it gets you in contact with the herbs that help heal you. It’s also a great excuses to try blending your own herbal tea or working with recipes!
3 – Storage Solutions
If you’re like me, your herbs spend more time on the kitchen counter than they do put away. I like to interact with my herbs as much as possible to remind me to use them, enjoy them, and be grateful for them. When I’ve blended a few herbs together to make one of my favorite herbal tea recipes, or when I’ve brewed a simple cup of peppermint or chamomile to end the day, I put extra TLC into how I put my herbs away.
Getting the most out of your herbs involves storing them properly. I like to work with a few favorite herbs at a time depending on need and season, and I keep these herbs in glass caning jars where I can get them easily. Other herbs stay in their packages or in jars and are tucked away in a closet where it’s dark, cool, and dry.
You can store your herbs in their packaging or transfer them to other containers. Bagged herbs can be packed together into opaque sweater boxes or lined up on shelves in a dark closet or pantry. As long as your herbs stay dry, cool, and away from direct light they’ll maintain their potency for much longer – upwards of 3 years or more!
I have not found it economical, although it would be really nice looking, to store all of my herbs in glass jars. I usually have hundreds of herbs on hand as I blend and brew for others, so that many jars just isn’t practical. If you have a large collection, try jarring up your most frequently used and keeping the rest in their bags.
One of the reasons I buy my herbs where I do is that their bags are strong, safe, and perfect for lifelong storage of even the most delicate herbs. Click the image below to see options…