How To Brew Herbal Teas: Japanese "Senjiru" Method

Key to making an excellent herbal tea is to extract the maximum goodness with optimum aroma, flavor, and color.

Herbs have provided humans of all cultures with numerous benefits for a very long time — Bronze-age Sumerians had created clay tablets with lists of hundreds of healing herbs over 5,000 years ago.

The key to making an excellent herbal tea is to extract the maximum goodness locked deep in the herb with optimum aroma, flavor, and color.

Senjiru (to infuse, to decoct) is a traditional Japanese technique for brewing herbal teas. You can do it at home using a conventional kettle.

The steps in a senjiru-brew are a rapid boil, followed by a simmer and then a cool-down period.

You can senjiru-brew many types of herbs, including dried leaves, legumes, grains, and even hard mushrooms such as Ganoderma.

Examples of herbs Japanese commonly brew are:

Artemisia leaves (yomogi)

Black soybeans

Ganoderma (saru-no-koshikake)

Ginkgo biloba leaves 

Heartleaf (dokudami)

Loquat leaves (biwa)

Mulberry leaves

Pearl barley (hatomugi)

Persimmon leaves

How to Brew

The steps in senjiru brewing are a rapid boil, followed by a simmer and then a cool-down period.The following are typical instructions for brewing 4 cups of loose leaf herbal tea.

For brewing legumes or grains, you will need 2 to 4 times more by weight, depending on type. 

Feel free to experiment and adjust to your taste. 

  1. Add 5 grams of herb to 5 cups of cold water (you will lose about one cup of water due to evaporation.)
  2. Heat to a full, rolling boil.
  3. Turn heat down and let simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Turn heat off and let cool down for 10 minutes.
  5. Strain and serve.

Tips for Brewing a Better Tea

Use Good Quality Water

If your water tastes bad, so will your tea!

Always use fresh, good quality water (but never distilled.) If using tap water, let it run cold for at least 10 seconds before using.

Use a Non-reactive Kettle

The material your kettle is made of can chemically react with water and cause contamination.

Glass, ceramic, stainless steel, enamel, marble, or cast iron are excellent non-reactive, non-toxic materials.

Aluminum kettles should be avoided. Aluminum is a reactive material, proven to cause toxic contamination.