tcm, wellness

Preparing Your TCM Herbal Formula: Decocting at Home


There are many ways herbal medicines have been prepared over the ages (e.g. tinctures - alcohol based, syrups - sugar based, balms & liniments, pills and granules). Decocting (Herbal Tea) is one of these methods, using water to draw out therapeutic properties of herbs - These are the finer details to decocting in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Use this guide for best results. 


The best choice for decocting is a glazed Ceramic or Glass pot - you can find these in you local China Town. if you don't have a ceramic/glass pot, not to worry you can use a stainlesss steel pot too [try to avoid using Teflon, and especially do not cast Iron pots which can react negatively with herbs].


  • STEEP - Cover herbs in water by about 2 inches.

  • ADD HERBS & SOAK - Optionally soak herbal formula in water for 30min*

  • BOIL - Cover formula (to prevent loss of essential oils) and bring to a boil, then lower to simmer for 20-30minutes

  • STRAIN - Strain with cheesecloth or fine collander and separate fluid from and herbs. Save herbs for resteeping.

Soaking herbs is optional. Be sure to add herbs in order instructed
by your practitioner*


  • RE-STEEP YOUR FORMULA! - Enjoy your formula a second or even third time. In Traditional Chinese Medicine the first steeping is said to effect the patient on the qi level (more superficial in nature); while the second and third steeping can bring the formula deeper into what's known as the blood level (innermost level).

  • TEA TOO BITTER? - Many Chinese formulas are delicious and have a rich flavor profile, however there are some that can taste very bitter or unpleasant. When the correct formula is prescribed the patient will often develop a taste for the once unpleasant tea. But in the event that you 'just cant' there are a few options: (1) water down and consume in a few cups versus one, (2) honey can also be added to sweeten the formula with consent from your practitioner.

  • WHEN TO TAKE FORMULA? - Herbal formulas are best taken 1-2 hours before eating to maximize the digestion and absorption of the herbs. Sedating formulas for calming should be taken a few hours before bedtime.