How to Make a Herbal Decoction

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A herbal decoction is essentially a simmered tea over a long period of time. Herbal decoctions are marvellous for extracting the properties of hard roots, barks, dried berries and seeds.
Water is a commonly used solvent to extract herbal properties, hence the popularity of tea and infusions.

For some clarification, let’s discuss briefly the differences between a tea, an infusion and a decoction.

A tea uses a small amount of a herb whereas an infusion and a decoction use a large amount of a herb/herbs.
Additionally, a tea is brewed for a short amount of time versus an infusion and a decoction which are brewed for a long and varying amount of time.
You’ll also find that with a tea, you use either a fresh herb or a dried herb. In contrast, an infusion and a decoction only use the dried herb.

In general, a herbal decoction is more potent than an infusion. However, decoctions are often only using roots and barks of a herb. This is because, through the process, a lot of of the volatile essences and water-soluble vitamins in flowers, leaves and seeds are lost. Therefore, an infusion works much better in this case.

Note: The terms ‘infusion’ and ‘decoction’ are somewhat vague, so for transparencies sake, my definition here of an infusion may also be known as a decoction in other writings.

herbal decoction

Ingredients To Make a Herbal Decoction

1 litre of water

30 grams of your chosen herb

Method

Version 1

  • Make an infusion as described here.
  • After the herbs have infused for their 8 or so hours, pour out the liquid into a saucepan and discard the herbs.
  • Heat the liquid in the saucepan until it begins to steam (not boil!) and keep an eye on it until the liquid has reduced to half of what it was. This usually takes about 45-60 minutes.
  • Once it’s cooled down a little, pour into a squeaky clean bottle and label it.
  • Here there’s the option of adding a tablespoon of brandy or vodka to help preserve the herb for longer in the fridge.
  • Pop a lid on it and let it cool down to room temperature before putting in the fridge.

Version 2

  • Add your dried herbs to the pan directly and cover with cold water.
  • Slowly heat and continue the process as described above.
herbal decoction

How to Consume a Herbal Decoction

Since a decoction is about four times more potent than an infusion, you don’t need so much. You only need about 60ml of this decoction to equal a 250ml cup of infusion.

You can drink your beverage straight or dilute it with water.
Have a read over How to Make a Herbal Infusion for more ideas on how to consume your decoction.

Emily Nöth

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*Please note this is not a substitute for medical advice. Always consult your doctor before starting any new supplement plan or diet if you are taking medication or have a diagnosed condition.