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Water Extraction~ Infusion vs Decoctions

Updated: May 18, 2022

Infusions vs. Decoctions

Infusions are usually made with aerial plant parts such a leaves, flowers, and soft berries, which require little time in hot water to extract the desired constituents.

*If you do boil the delicate leaves and flowers, you risk losing some of their potency to excessive heat and evaporation. Bark and stem can either be used as an infusion or in decoctions.

Preparing an infusion

You may use a teapot, French press, mason jar, or teacup with lid. Making sure it has a lid, limiting the amount of volatile essential oils that evaporate with water. Infusions may be prepared hot or cold and may be stored up to 24 hours after preparation.

Hot Infusion

Pour 1.5 cups hot water over 1-2 tsp. tea. Cover the container and allow to steep. For most herbal teas, allow 15-20 minutes to steep. If you want to enjoy sooner, you may steep for 5-10 minutes, and rested tea later. For blends with black or green tea, steep only for 5 minutes, avoiding the bitter tannins.

Cold Infusion

Combine 1 tablespoon tea per cup of cold water in a lidded jar. Shake, place in a cool space for at least 2 hours. Cold infusions are important if you're trying to extract delicate vitamins and enzymes from herbs. *Slipper elm, fruits, raspberry leaf, and marshmallow root do well in cold extractions.


Method in which rough plant parts, such as roots, bark, stems, and seeds are placed in a pot with cold water, covered and slowly brought to a boil.

*Placing the plants in cold water is essential because tougher plant parts are high in a protein (albumin), which needs to be extracted out of the cells slowly as the temperature increases. If placed in hot water, it limits the extraction.

Preparing a decoction

Combine a teaspoon of tea per cup of cold water in a lidded saucepan. You may allow the herbs to sit for a few hours and reduce the heat. Let herbs simmer for 20-45 minutes. Remove from heat and strain.

Preparing a fresh-herb hot infusion

Gently tear or finely chop herbs with knife. Fully pack the jar with fresh herbs. Pour hot water over the herbs, cover with a lid, and allow herbs to steep until the tea is cool enough to drink.

Preparing a fresh-herb cold infusion

Fill jar with herbs and cold water. Making sure that the herbs are fully submerged. Cover and shake for a few seconds. Place in a cool spot. Let tea steep for several hours or overnight.

Making sun tea

Fill jar with herbs, spices, and cold water. Put lid on and shake for several seconds. Making sure herbs are fully submerged. Place the jar in a sunny windowsill or outside in the sun for a few hours.

Rule of thumb for fresh herbs

*Harvest flowers when they are bud or just before their peak. Choose mature fruits. Gather, seeds when they are just about to fall off the plant. Harvest roots in the fall, when the energy of the plant has retreated there, or in the early spring.

A great gift that we can each give ourselves is to simply slowing down enough to listen to our bodies and using herbs to support our health on a daily basis.

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