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Tinctures Taste

Posted by silybum Sunset 16/z8b (My Page) on
Tue, Jul 12, 05 at 12:40

Yuck! I tasted my first tincture that I made in my herbalism class. It was nasty stuff. I used brandy. It was a bitters tincture for digestion. How do you make them taste more pleasant?

But, that did get me motivated to do something tastier with my herbs, so I made a lavender syrup, which I am adding to lemonade, and it is fabulous..........tastes great!

And I made a infused olive oil. I infused it with basil & garlic. I am using it to flavor the toast when I made bruchetta. Very good!

Any other tasty ideas?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Tinctures Taste

Tinctures aren't supposed to taste good...they are medicine.
I just use a very small cup warm of water, put the appropriate amount of tincture in it, and swallow it down. If I know it's going to be bad tasting, I plug my nose when I swallow. Sometimes I just use Echinacea tincture straight, cause it makes my mouth tingle, and I kinda like the feeling :o)
I like to add a handfull or two of berries to my Lav. syrup for Lemonade. Colors it pretty, and tastes great. Just be sure to strain it well.
Enjoy! Lynn

RE: Tinctures Taste

Herbal Ed from The Herb Pharm says something to the effect of "Beware, if an herbalist says a tincture "isn't bad", the average person will run away cringing at the taste." Bitters are supposed to be, well, bitter. That tells the body to increase bile production, which helps with digestion. If you make them taste better, you are defeating the purpose of that particular action. However, you can take some herbs as glycerites, like elderberry, ginger and chamomile. Yummy!

RE: Tinctures Taste

Medicines are supposed to taste good! There is a theory that (a) the taste stops you from taking too much and (b) if it tastes that bad, it MUST be good for you!

IMO, the vast majority of herbal teas taste absolutely vile!

If you want to 'kill' the taste, suck on an ice cube before taking your medicine.

RE: Tinctures Taste

Many tinctures/herbal teas aren't tasty. There "taste" is an afterthought as they are used for medicinal properties and are sometimes just not tasty. Other herbs though can be used to mask their flavor and other "liquids" for example you can dilute a tincture in orange juice. (just make sure all dilutions etc. don't interfere with herbs) or you can steep other herbs with peppermint (lemon balm ....) tea..... I steep mugwort (artemisia) with peppermint (artemisia has a terribly offensive taste) and the strong flavor of peppermint masks it pretty nicely. For example the bitter compounds in dandelion make the plant taste pretty awful.... but it is very good for you (and a variety of ailments) so if you were to drink it .... taken with peppermint tea its not so bad. :)

RE: Tinctures Taste

Great Ideas, I will try them all. Thanks.

RE: Tinctures Taste

theory b is kinda foolish and dangerous. lots of poisonous plants broadcasst it with a unpleasant taste, in fact our toungs are "programed" to notice bitter tastes as they are often poisonous. few poisons are sweet.

and quite frankly the herbs often used for medicine taste truly unpleasant cos they ARE poisonous. we are just taking advantage of the side effects and amking sure we aren't properly poisoned.

know why mint tastes so cool and refressing, though eating a leaf of mint burns and tastes horrible usualy? cos its full of natural insecticides that protect them.

and hte less said about eating wormwood or mugwort leavees the better.

oh and if you try and taste just vodka, it is unpleasant to most, cos thats right, its poisonous.

RE: Tinctures Taste

theory b is an old wive's tale tailor made to tinctures...

but a's right on the ball. if medicine tasted GOOD, people wouldn't have any reason to get WELL ;)

RE: Tinctures Taste

I was thinking about adding some honey to my tincture after I have already strained the herbs to sweeten it up a little. I know honey is already a natural preservative, but my question is, would this affect the life of the tincture or cause any nasty side effects being mixed with the alcohol? Any help would be great!

RE: Tinctures Taste

I usually take tinctures straight, grin and bear it. But my husband always mixes it with a "shot" of orange juice. All of our tinctures use a vodka base though, so with brandy, it may make it worse. I have heard of using honey, but I would not add it to the entire tincture itself, I can only see that being really bad for the tincture in both shelf life and effectiveness.

Personally, I enjoy the tastes of herbal teas. But using mint, lemon or honey to add tastiness is always a good thing.

RE: Tinctures Taste

I was wondering last night while straining some tinctures why it is that some herbs like Hibiscus and Rosehips for example make a fairly pleasant tasting tincture, while other herbs like St-John's-wort and lavender make a bitter tincture. Do the tinctures that are more bitter have a stronger medicinal effect?

RE: Tinctures Taste


I'll add my two cents worth . . .
When you distinguish the various tastes, you're into a science of the energetics of herbs. For instance, the acrid sour tastes of hibiscus and rosehips have a specific therapeutic affect on our tissues whereas the bitters have a different therapeutic affect (or nutritional value).

It's quite a deep science, but can be qualified through two methods when you want to understand the herbs nature and potential usefulness:
1. Using our senses - smell, sight, taste and touch - physical and intuitive senses. This requires your first-hand experience approach and referred to as empirical. But it has been done for thousands of years and has led to the system known as vitalistic or energetic pharmacognosy.
2. The second approach is what our resident scientist, Eric, is usually talking about . . . Analyze an herb through various laboratory techniques. The methods are HPLC, TLC densitometry, UV absorption spectrophotometry, gas chromatography, preparative coum chromatography, acidic dye colorimetry, electrophoresis, etc. This is referred to as western analysis, which has limited application, but it does have its place.

I'm rambling and getting off the subject.

Back to your different tastes. In Chinese herbology, as with our Western herbology, tastes fall under Primary Effective Qualities.
1. Sweet tastes harmonize, calm, cool, slows down, thickens, moistens and restores. (i.e. asparagus root, jujube dates)
2. pungent tastes activates, energizes, warms, speeds up, drys and disperses (i.e. thyme)
3. Salt tastes moistens, softens, sinks, drains, dissolves and resolves (i.e. kelp)
4. Sour tastes coagulates, tightens, stimulates and decongests (i.e. schizandra, hibiscus, rosehips)
5. Bitter tastes stimulates, grounds, drains, cools, detoxifies and dries (i.e. gentian)
6. Bland tastes drain fluids and dries damp. (i.e. couchgrass)
7. Astringent tastes solidify, tightens, dries, decongests and slows down.
8. Oil tastes slow down, moistens, thickens, makes heavy and warms. (i.e. saw palmetto)

Of course, herbs can have any combination of these qualities in one herb. And it doesn't cover whether or not an herb is of mild, medium or strong therapeutic category, which, I believe, you alluded to in your post. Therapeutic categories is quite another subject.

Now, aren't you sorry you asked? lol

Thanks for listening.

The Herbalist

RE: Tinctures Taste

"The second approach is what our resident scientist, Eric, is usually talking about . . . Analyze an herb through various laboratory techniques. The methods are HPLC, TLC densitometry, UV absorption spectrophotometry, gas chromatography, preparative coum chromatography, acidic dye colorimetry, electrophoresis, etc. This is referred to as western analysis, which has limited application, but it does have its place."

Actually I've never talked about these techniques or the need to use them in analyzing herbs, so I don't know where Charlie is getting this.

Nowadays "Western" means of determining if an herb or other medicine is safe and effective are the same as eastern ones. Plenty of herbal research goes on in China and around the world. While not all of it is high quality (notably, Chinese research rarely publishes a negative result), the principles are the same. The qualities Charlie lists above are interesting for historical purposes, like the ancient theories of body "humors" - but they haven't been taken seriously as a rational basis for treatment for centuries.

RE: Tinctures Taste


You talk of things of which you know very little. You would be offending hundreds of thousands of Chinese herbalists who have used the above mentioned principles for thousands of years successfully. Please, don't talk anymore.

The Herbalist

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