The herbs in The Breathing Garden are used as hot teas, or as a steam baths, and are commonly found in syrups and herbal honeys as well.
Just as selecting top quality herbs is important for a great cup of tea, so are the minute details such as the amount of herbs in each cup, the shape and size of the herbs, the infusion time, the quality of water, the water temperature, the teapot, the cup……the company.
The herbs in The Breathing Garden have what you could say are robust herbal flavours. Making a blend is a good way to balance the extreme tastes and adding some licorice or fennel helps to sweeten a brew. Elecampane and echinacea roots are quite spicy with bitter notes; marshmallow and mullein are soft and quite sweet; hyssop and gumweed are more resinous.
Water for the best herbal tea should be fresh, pure, clear, odourless and low in minerals. Its also really worth thinking about where you get the energy required for boiling your water. Getting your energy from a renewable energy source is the best way for a positive cup of tea. Getting an energy efficient kettle is another way of ensuring you don’t waste energy.
its also important to keep a lid over the herbs so their precious aromatic oils are kept in the tea.
Infuse the herbs in covered cup or teapot for 10-15 minutes, strain and drink. Some herbs may be infused or decocted for longer so read up on the specifics of each herb.
Herbal Steam Bath
Infusing herbs in hot water and inhaling the steam is a very effective and simple method for imbibing the properties of herbs. Commonly used for decongesting the nose, head and lungs arising from a cold or allergy. Also used as a facial steam for skin health.
Pour 1 liter of freshly boiled water onto the herbs in a bowl. Depending on the plant, and whether it is fresh or dry, you may use a few fresh sprigs or between 10-25g herbs. Hyssop, gum weed and elecampane are useful here. 3 drops of essential oils such as lavender or eucalyptus can also be added directly into the water. Cover and leave to infuse for a few minutes. Then put a towel over your head and bowl, remove the cover, and enjoy the aromas. Be careful that the steam is not to too hot for you. Breathe in and out of your mouth 10 x and then your nose 10 x and then repeat as necessary.
To make a syrup see here
To make a herbal honey see here
How to dry your herbs
Once you start drying your own herbs you will realise how good freshly-dried herbs can actually be. Lay them out on a rack and keep in a warm – around 35C – and well ventilated area for 12-24 hours, or until crisp and dry. Delicate herbs like hyssop or mullein must be handled especially carefully. Pick individual flowers and leaves and place neatly on your drying rack. For roots, scrub them clean, slice into smaller pieces and dry for as long as necessary. A dehydrator may be best for more predictable results and store in an airtight container.
Always read the specific information on each individual herb to find out how to use them properly.