There are simple rules to making teas. If all you want is a pleasant drink, use 1-2 teaspoons per cup (depending on the strength of the herb), and allow it to sit for 5 minute before straining it and drinking it.
A medicinal tea is a different matter. Depending on the part of the plant being used, and the desired outcome, there are various approaches:
Hot Infusion: Depending on the strength of the herb one should use 1-2 tsp of dried herb per cup of tea. Put the tea into the vessel (cup, jar or teapot) then pour just boiled water over the herb. Cover container and let sit for 3-4 hours (longer is even better.). Strain and drink.
Warm infusion: Often referred to as sun tea, this method is ideal for retaining the vitamin C content of a tea. As before, use 1-2 tsp herb per cup. This time add warm water and let sit for several hours or over night, until the flavor is achieved.
Fresh plant infusion : This is ideal for flowers, young leaves and berries, where you wish to capture that fresh flavor. This works particularly well with flowers.
Dried plant infusion – Most medicinal infusions are made using dried ingredients such as flowers and leaves. This allows us to keep the herbs on hand to use whenever needed.
Decoction: Roots, bark, pods, seeds, and dried berries (and sometime the leaves) often require simmering to extract the phytochemicals. Depending on the material and the desired outcome this may take from half an hour to a full day. Obviously, one would need to keep topping up the water content in the latter case.
Reduction – A reduction is made when a strong decoction is required. This usually involves simmering until the liquid level is reduced by about one half. This is a method I will use to make a tincture, where alcohol is added to the finished tea. The reduction may be combined with the herbal material and alcohol and left for several weeks, to create an even stronger tincture.
Combinations: I will often combine techniques to create a more complex tea, where different components require different treatments.
If you are just starting out with tea making, don’t allow all these methods to overwhelm you. Stick to something simple, until you feel comfortable in making a tea. A simple infusion using a single herb is a perfect place to begin. As you get more comfortable with the idea, you can begin comparing fresh with dried and combining herbs.