Hot vs. Cold Herbal Infusions: how-to make, what’s the difference, and benefits of each
When I first started my healing journey, I made and drank herbal infusions daily. They were simple to make, and quickly helped my digestive tract heal and reduce acne.
Herbal infusions are one of my favorite ways to enjoy herbs medicinally (this and cooking with culinary herbs on a daily basis!). Herbal infusions are like a tea, but actually medicinal in value.
This is because herbal infusions are:
- Steeped for a longer period of time
- Not just a small tea bag amount, but a handful of dried herb
Now don’t get me wrong! Tea is awesome, and can be so soothing, uplifting and relaxing, etc. But if you have a health concern or are looking to reap certain benefits of an herb, herbal infusions are the way to go.
How-to make herbal infusions
First off, herbal infusions are typically made with herbs that are tonic in nature, meaning: safe for longer term use, gentle, and usually very nutritive-- high in minerals and vitamins.
[Mountain Rose Herbs, Pacific Botanicals in Oregon and Starwest Botanicals are some of my favorite online, high-quality suppliers to buy herbs from]
HOT Herbal Infusions
Using a hot infusion method, i.e., pouring just boiled water over your herb, allows the hot water to extract the medicinal and nutritive properties of the plant, in a way that cold water isn't able to.
In short, the hot water extracts phyto (plant-based) nutrients from the herb.
Examples of high nutritive plants:
Nettle Leaf - high in minerals, great for acne, cleansing to the body (click here to read my post about nettles in depth)
Red Raspberry Leaf - female reproductive tonic (click here for a sweet tea recipe using this herb)
Materials: one 32 oz mason jar, one heaping palmful of dried herb
Preparation: Easy to do before bed time, or when you have at least 4 hours during the day to steep, then strain your herbs. Add herbs to the mason jar, fill to the top with freshly boiled water, screw mason jar lid on, and let the herbs steep for 4 - 8 hours on your countertop. Strain, and store in the fridge for up to 2 days. You can enjoy 2 cups of your infusion per day and drink it warmed up, or chilled from the fridge.
COLD Herbal Infusions
Cold herbal infusions are even easier to make than hot! You don’t need to heat up water and a smaller amount of herb is fine here.
1 tsp - 1 tbsp is enough per 8 oz of water-- you can play around with the amount and see what you like best.
Using COLD or room temperature water extracts plant polysaccharides in a way that hot water simply can’t do as well.
Plants high in polysaccharides are incredibly healing to irritated, inflamed, and / or dry body tissues when introduced into water. They become slimy-silky, or what herbalists refer to as a demulcent herb.
Cold infusion herbs are best to:
- Soothe the digestive and respiratory tract
Here are two favorites:
Marshmallow root - demulcent, useful for irritated and all inflammatory conditions of the gastrointestinal tract like the mouth, ulcers, colitis, gastritis, leaky gut, usage of multiple rounds of oral antibiotics
Chamomile - demulcent, uplifting to the spirit, mildly sweet in flavor, soothing to the entire digestive tract
Materials: one 32 ounce mason jar or regular water glass, 8 oz (or more depending on batch size) of cold or room temp water, dried herb
Preparation: Add 1 tsp - 1 tbsp herb to a water glass. Fill with cold water and let steep for 4 hours to overnight. Strain and drink throughout the day. You can make a bigger batch by doubling the recipe and enjoying it over the next couple of days.
Reach out via email with any questions or to set up an herbal consultation with me at Veronica@kapu.communiy
Beautiful cover image of this post is Anna Friedland's fresh nettle leaf infusion. Anna is a painter and designer, and now an herbal infusion lover! Check her out at annafriedland.com