16 Jun Infusions – The perfect Summertime drinks!
As we move into the warmer days, chances are we start looking for new and refreshing drink options. And boy are there a lot of yummy ideas! But as an Aromatherapist I cringe when I hear suggestions for adding this essential oil, or that essential oil to ones water for a refreshing drink. To cut right to the point, there is never a reason anyone should be adding any essential oil to their water. Ever. Essential oils are extremely concentrated and even a single drop of an oil would be akin to munching down copious amounts of the botanical for a of couple days (more depending on which botanical we’re talking about). Taking anything in such high doses can cause a plethora of negative side effects, not to mention water and oil don’t mix.
But there are a number of ways we can flavor our water for a refreshing and fresh new taste without using essential oils! We asked Herbalist Alice Swenson of Plain Plantain Herbals for some suggestions.
Herbal Summertime infusions
Most whole Herbs I will suggest are a Class A Herb, meaning they are generally safe for most people. But please, if you have any allergies, are pregnant, nursing, have any preexisting health issues, or take any medications, check with a trusted Pharmacist prior to starting with any new herbs. Most Pharmacists will have the most up to date information right at their fingertips.
I come from a whole Herb approach, even if it’s one of the most basic Herbs, I use the whole herb and it still needs to be approached with care and consideration. For the most part though, they are a healthy food that can enhance your meals and drinks, and on top of that they come with a whole array of great health benefits.
There are a few ways to spruce up your drinks with Herbs. One of the most common is teas, either hot or cold brewed for short periods of time all the way up to about 10 minutes. Then there’s infusions. Generally, infusions are left to sit for at least half an hour, and sometimes they are left to sit overnight, greatly increasing their medicinal use as they get stronger (they will also get more bitter and you may need to add a touch of sweetener to achieve that pleasant refreshing drink we crave during the summer heat).
Some of my favorite combos are made in room temperature water. To make an infusion you add a total of ¼ cup – 1/2 cup of dry Herbs to 1 quart of water. If you’re using fresh Herbs, add about 1 loosely packed cup ( I crush them in a mortar or in the blender to release the oils and flavor!) You can use your favorite sweetener, I tend to use very little, just to make it a bit more refreshing. You can use a couple tablespoons of Palm sugar (which is my go-to) but you could also use maple syrup, white sugar, brown sugar, Stevia or Honey.
My favorites herbs to use (often along with some crushed Fresh or frozen berries! Yum!)
Out of all the mints, Spearmint is often my base along with a combination of Holy Basil, Lemon Balm, Lemon Grass, Lemon and Thyme. If you want an Herbal Kool aide, try adding some hibiscus flowers. Kids and adults in my classes love this addition. The Hibiscus won’t just add a subtly floral almost fruity taste, but it will create a gorgeous pink hue as well.
For a light green tea I love to use Nettles (yep stinging nettles! Yum yum!). For some great added nutrient additions try adding Alfalfa, Raspberry leaf, or red Clover flowers. Plantain is another great nutritional boost, either broad leaf or lance leaf. Another favorite addition to herbal summer teas is fragrant Rose petals!
These are a few of my personal favorites. But try experimenting and enjoy the wide array of new tastes. Try changing the ratios to find your perfect summertime favorites.
A secondary caution: If you are unsure of a plant in the garden or the wild one, don’t use it, but rather buy it from a trusted source (whether dry or fresh). Although I grow and wildcraft a lot, I, myself still buy a lot of my Herbs too.