Long herbal infusions, like overnight and solar infusions, are one of the most delicious and seasonal ways to enjoy your herbal brews. In the warmer months, sipping on a piping hot cup of tea is not my ideal way to enjoy herbs (it’s over 90F in Virginia on the regular now). Instead, I make lots of herbal blends to let sit under the warm summer sun and infuse on those hot days, or leave some herbal formulas on my counter top, soaking in room temperature, filtered water. I’ll strain these out the following day, add a bit of lemon, honey or even an ice cube or two, and sip all day long. These are like joyous daily herbal brews that help to energetically balance the heat outside, while being 100% tailored to whatever you’re feeling like that day. That’s the beauty of herbs: custom formulation!
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In my apothecary, I stock loads of cut & sift dried herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs that I rotate seasonally. In the summer, I love solar infusing herbs rich in vitamin C like hibiscus, (also for the color and tangy flavor!), and herbs that are energetically heart supportive and strengthening. I feel like summer is a huge heart opening time, and enjoying herbs that support heart flow, opening, and expansion feel ideal in my body. My favorite formula for solar infusing in summer includes hibiscus, hawthorn leaf and flower, lemon balm, and yarrow. Once it’s infused under the sun for about 4-5 hours, it develops a rich red, vibrant color that’s tangy, rich, and a little sweet. Sipped daily, this herbal combination is a wonderful heart supportive tonic with a gentle nervine quality that’s calming and uplifting. I add a dash of honey and lemon in the final product, and it makes for the best summer sipper on the hottest days.
How to Make a Solar Herbal Infusion
In a large mason jar (I use about 1 gallon or slightly less), add in your herbs, and then cover with room temperature, filtered water. Find a sunny spot, and let sit in the heat of the sun for at least 4 hours. You can cover with a loose lid if you choose. The heat from the sun should expedite the extraction process, and after 4 hours of solar infusion the brew is ready to enjoy! Strain out the herbs and sip with honey, lime, lemon or ice cubes throughout the day. (Compost the herbs that you strain out!).
How to Make an Overnight Herbal Infusion
For overnight herbal infusions, you can be a little heavier handed with your herbal portions. Overnight infusions allow for 8+ hours for the herbs to infuse in room temperature water. This extended steep allows for practically all of the water soluble constituents of each herb to extract into the water, and also makes for a stronger flavor. This method of tea making is especially ideal for those nutrient rich herbs like alfalfa, oat, nettle and red clover to really shine, as a long water extraction is the ideal way to enjoy the nutrient content of these nutritive herbs. Add all of your herbs to a small mason jar (I use 2 cup mason jars or pint mason jars) and cover with room temperature, filtered water. Let sit on the counter overnight (covered loosely) and then strain in the morning and sip throughout the day. (Compost those herbs, too!)
My favorite overnight infusion includes astragalus root, alfalfa, oat straw, and rosehips. Sometimes I’ll switch out alfalfa for nettle, but often use them interchangeably in this overnight infusion. Both alfalfa and oat straw are richly nutritive herbs, packed with vitamins and minerals, including vitamins E, K and C and trace amounts of manganese. Rosehips provide a concentrated dose of vitamin C, and the astragalus offers the deep immune support without being immune stimulating. I love the flavor of this tea – little sweet, a little tart, a little earthy.
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Generally, you can solar or overnight infuse any part of the herb, including leaf, flower, root, stem or rhizome. Keep in mind that with a longer steep, the flavors are often stronger, so experiment with your dosage and be a little more conservative with the stronger flavored or aromatic herbs herbs like mints, ginger, lavender or turmeric. These flavors will come through very strong, so dose a bit lower if you use those.