1. Find the herbs you are interested in - Are you looking for stress relief? Try lemon balm or kava kava. Restful sleep? Valerian or chamomile might be nice. Allergy relief? Nettles for sure. Blood cleansing? Burdock and red clover. Pregnant or Breastfeeding? Red Raspberry, Borage and more. Whatever your need there are several different herbs that could work for you. Smell the herbs and taste them if you can. It's helpful to try the individual herb as a tea by itself before combining so you can get used to its flavor and experience its properties. Some people are allergic to certain herbs so try a small amount at first and use caution with any herbs you are unfamiliar with. Always check with a local herbalist if you are unsure.
2. Figure out how many parts you will need of each herb. - Herbal blends are expressed in terms of ratios. So one part could be a teaspoon, a tablespoon, a scoop, or a whole cup. The larger the part, the higher the amount of the blend you will end up with. The herbs at Elder & Sage are priced per ounce so roots and berries will weigh more than leaves and flowers. That is why it is better to go by parts for your blend than by weight. One half-ounce of mullein leaves will fill an entire bag while one ounce of juniper berries may be only ten berries! Strong flavored or bitter herbs like burdock or valerian may impart a flavor you don't want so keep them to one part of your total blend. Aromatic herbs like mints, cinnamon, ginger, etc. can be used to cover up unwanted flavors but they are strong so keep them to one part as well. And remember that the aromatics are more than just flavor. Find one that has the properties you are looking for. Warm up with cinnamon or ginger. Cool off with mint, spearmint, or lemon verbena. Bland herbs or nutrient rich ones can be used in higher proportions. You may want to use more of an herb if its properties address more of your health concerns and use less of those herbs that deal with secondary issues.
3. Purchase the herbs individually and then blend them together at home. - Once you have your blend made up use your tea ball as a guide. Or you can use about 1 tablespoon of the blend per cup of tea. Roots, stems, seeds, and berries take longer to extract the medicinal properties than leaves and flowers. If you have a blend that is primarily roots and bark then you will want to steep it longer (20 minutes) or boil directly in the water for 10 minutes and strain. Blends made with leaves or flowers should not be boiled. Pour boiling water over them instead and let steep for ten minutes. Some herbs can even be steeped in cold water to have different effects. Or you can brew the herb first and chill for a refreshing iced tea. Herbs with bitter properties like black or green tea should be steeped for much shorter times to keep the bitter tannins from leaching out which can be hard on the stomach. Nutrient rich herbs like nettles, oatstraw, dandelion, red clover, alfalfa, etc. can be steeped for much longer or even overnight to pull more minerals out of them.
4. Try your herbal tea blend! - How does it taste? Do you need to sweeten it with honey? Which herbs do you taste the most? Adjust your ratios for next time. Once you have hit upon a tea that you like you can make more of it at a time. Now drink your medicine and enjoy!
To Your Health!