I've never really liked having to state precisely how long you should brew your loose leaf tea for. There's no magical amount of minutes that works for all. So I thought it might be time to shed some light on listening to your bodies needs and letting your intuition guide your rituals.
Firstly, both infusions and decoctions extract the nutrients and essential essence from herbs via water. Sounds simple enough? But when you think about it, the element of water is often overlooked; it's easy to forget that water is our life force, essential to our vitality and longevity. Next time you're pouring that steaming hot water over your herbs, take a moment to remember that you're combining two of earth's most wondrous creations and when you pause to think about it, it's kind of magical!
Steeping herbs in a strainer are easily extracted (best for herbs loaded with vitamins and minerals, primarily flowers, leaves & herbs with volatile oils, such as peppermint, lavender or rose).
Light Extraction ~ Infusions between 3-5 minutes (generally recommended on any tea label).
Intense Extraction ~ 15-20 Infusions (which can result in quite a bitter tea, but a very potent one).
Simmering herbs on the stove at a low temperature, usually for about an hour, sometimes longer. This is perfect for herbs with more rigid exteriors (think mushrooms, roots, barks and berries), and it's necessary to brew them longer to extract the nutrients deep within.
A good example is my Mama Milk or Dream Leaves tea blends for infusions; given they are mostly leaves and flower petals, I only infuse them and let them steep depending on how I want them to affect my body. Most day's a light infusion of about 5 minutes meets my daily needs. However, there are days when I infuse for a good 30 minutes (especially the Mama Milk blend during times where my bub is teething madly!).
For example, my radiance blend Inner Cleanse is mainly made up of berries, barks, and roots. I find the flavour so much more intense after a prolonged infusion or decoction as the Schisandra berries (in particular) have been able to release their whole essence!
When in doubt, listen to what your body needs! I hope this helps!