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Using loose-leaf herbs is an economical way to make healthy herbal teas. It’s also great for the environment because buying in bulk cuts packaging waste.
Once you have collected a few different herbs, you can even experiment with blending your own herbal teas. But what do you do without those handy little tea bags? If you want to make the switch from tea bags to loose-leaf herbal teas (with as little mess as possible), read on for some of my favorite tips and tricks.
A French press also works great for making green tea, oolong, and other teas made with Camellia sinensis. The press gives them extra room to steep, making for a gloriously well developed cup.
My favorite tool for making herbal tea
For brewing loose-leaf herbal teas, you need two things: a heat-safe vessel to hold the brew, and a way to strain the herbs out before you drink your tea. There are actually quite a few different ways to accomplish this.
A mason jar and a kitchen strainer or colander can work in a pinch. Of course, there are also specially designed tea strainers that dip right into your cup. For an elegant solution, there are even teapots designed with a strainer basket under the lid. One of my favorite methods, however, is usually associated with coffee.
Yep, that’s right – I’m talking about a French press. It’s heat-safe, easy to find, and durable. A quality press will last for years!
Benefits of using a French press for herbal teas
There are several reasons that using a French press to make herbal teas is better than other methods.
- A French press stores neatly in the tea cabinet – no rummaging through drawers required. It also eliminates the clutter of small strainers.
- It’s easy to pour from a French press. Once the lid is in place and the plunger is pressed down, your herbs will stay in the bottom of your press while you pour.
- Better for the environment because it lessens packaging waste.
Drawbacks of a French press for herbal teas
There are, however, a few reasons you might not like using a French press as much as I do.
- You might not like disassembling your French press from time to time to give it a deep clean. Personally, I think it’s still less fiddly than getting into the nooks and crevices of your typical tea strainer.
- It’s not as easy to judge how much water you’ve added if you are trying to make a single cup of tea, so it may take some practice to get it just right the first few times you use a French press.
- Some herbs may slip around the edges of the press if they are cut very fine. It doesn’t work well for powdered herbs.
Tips for using a French press for making tea
Here are a few things that I’ve learned about using a French press to make herbal teas that you might find helpful!
- Reserve a press just for teas to avoid your herbal brew tasting faintly of coffee. Coffee has a strong aroma and flavor. Leftover coffee oils clinging to your press can sneak into your herbal tea.
- If you are new to using a French press, it can be helpful to take a little time to figure out what 8 ounces and 16 ounces of water look like in your press pot. Measure out the appropriate amount of cold water and add it to your press so you can get a feel for how much hot water to add when you make tea.
- If you opt for a sturdier French press made from stainless steel or stoneware, use a stainless steel measuring cup to perfect your pour. Stainless steel measuring cups can be used to (carefully!) measure hot water when you can’t see the water level through the sides of your press.
How to make tea in a French press
The process of making tea in a French press is simple! It works best for leaves and flowers. Roots, berries, and barks benefit from a longer process known as decoction. For making herbal teas in a French press, you’ll need:
- 1 teaspoon dried herbs (or Camellia sinensis, if you’d rather)
- 8 oz of boiling water
- Place the herbs in the bottom of the French press.
- Add 8 oz of boiling water over the herbs in the French press.
- Place the lid on but don’t push the strainer down yet. The lid keeps the steam and volatile oils in the press, but you want to give the herbs lots of room to swell.
- After 5-10 minutes, press down the strainer and pour your tea into your favorite teacup or mug.
- Allow the tea to cool to a comfortable temp before drinking!
You can add the spent leaves to your compost or sprinkle them in your garden.
My herbal recipe book, The Complete Guide to Adaptogens, is full of creative recipes for home herbalists! Be sure to check it out if you enjoy making herbal teas and elixirs and love to incorporate herbs into your everyday wellness routines.
Updated April 4, 2022