Refreshing Herbal Beverages for a Hot Summer’s Day!
Published in the Walla Walla Family Forum, a Supplement of the Walla Walla Union Bulletin June 2020
Summer is here and it is a great time to add some herbal teas and infusions to your routine! These can be simple, healthy and refreshing. Here are some basics about infusions versus decoctions.
Infusion is a term derived from the Latin infundere, meaning to pour in. When it comes to teas we drink, it is a liquid preparation made by steeping fresh or dried herbs in hot or cold water, until the soluble components have dissolved. This process is most suitable for softer plant tissues such as flowers, most leaves, and soft stems. This process is better for preserving the volatile components of the plant than decoction. These volatile components make up the essential oils in wonderful aromatic herbs like peppermint, lavender and eucalyptus. These volatile oils disperse easily when released from the herb, so it is best to cover your cup or mug during the infusion process.
Decoction is a term derived from the Latin decoquere, meaning to boil down or away. As you can imagine, decoction is better suited for tougher plant parts such as roots, bark and seeds. It is also reserved for plants with less volatile properties, such as dandelion root or licorice root.
Here are some summer favorites that can be enjoyed by themselves, or in a blend:
Basil: This aromatic herb is best infused fresh and may be combined with ginger and lime for a tasty tea.
Chamomile: The flowers of this plant are classified as a nervine, which means it is mildly relaxing without having sedative effects.
Ginger: This root is best when decocted but can be infused for a lighter flavor. It is warming and spicy known for soothing digestion.
Hibiscus: This naturally sweet flower is full of antioxidants, including vitamin C. It makes a beautiful red infusion and is very refreshing to the palate.
Lavender: These aromatic purple flowers are classified as a mild sedative. They make a lovely floral infusion that can be enjoyed hot or cold.
Nettle: These leaves my not be the most flavorful, but this is a great addition to spring and summer infusions as it full of minerals and is thought to reduce the symptoms of hay fever.
Peppermint: These leaves are so light, minty and refreshing. A peppermint infusion is bound to cool you down and lift your mood on a hot summer’s day.
Let us not forget about cold macerations with cucumber, lemon, lime and berries, as well. These naturally flavored waters are simple to prepare and make it easy for us to stay hydrated.
These are just a few suggestions for jazzing up your summer beverage routine. As you can see, there are endless possibilities. Enjoy!