Unlike infusions, decoctions are boiled. Woody roots, non-aromatic seeds and barks are suited to this method.
Tools: You will need a non-reactive, heavy saucepan. I use a Corningware 1 quart pan with a see through glass lid. It is the perfect size for me, as I normally make decoctions 3 cups/750 ml at a time.
Ratio: Amounts can vary, depending upon your taste and the potency of the herbs, however 1 to 2 teaspoons of herb mixture to each cup of water is a good starting point. Roots and barks are more concentrated than the lighter leaves and flowers used in infusions, so less is needed.
Heating: Start with cold water over a low heat and slowly bring herb mixture to a simmering boil. Keep the pot covered and simmer for ten to 20 minutes. Take off heat and leave covered while you brew cools to drinking temperature.
- Straining: I often let the mixture set all day or overnight without straining, the heavy roots and barks settle to the bottom, and you can pour off the top.
- Overnight Method: Use this method when the material you want to extract is a bitter, or mineral salt. The whole herb, roots or seeds, or the bark of a woody plant are soaked in cold water for several hours, then brought to a boil and simmered for 30 minutes.