Sunday, December 18, 2011

Making an Herbal Tea Blend and How I Used Math to Do It

I'm trying to make as many Christmas presents as I can and as I have a great love of herbal medicine and teas, I thought I'd make some tea for Xmas. I'd share the actual recipe but, some people who might read this might be receiving some. So as not to give away the surprise, I'll just give the proportions.

Did I just use a math term? PROPORTIONS. I love math. And I used it while shopping for the herbs. I'll explain below.

I found a recipe that I was really excited about. It called for:
1/2 cup of herb #1
3/4 cup of herb #2
1/4 cup of herb #3
1 cup of herb #4
1/4 cup of herb #5

When I got to the health food store, I realized they didn't have cups to measure the portion of bulk herbs one wanted to buy. They did have scales. So, volume and weight are exactly the same thing. But, in the case of these herbs, they were all leafy, none of them were heavy roots or bulky like cloves. I figured they were close enough to being the same weight per volume. So, I decided to use the scale to get my proportions.

But did I need to know how much weight would get me 1/2 a cup? No, a recipe is just a proportional relationship between the ingredients. We have all heard of doubling recipes. You can half a recipe, make a third of one, or make 7 fifths of a recipe. As long as you keep the correct proportions it should turn out good.

For herb #1, I scooped what I thought was about 1/2 cup into a bag. On the scale, it weighed 0.05 pounds. How was I going to figure out how much of the other herbs to get?

Well, the recipe called for 1/2=0.5 cups of herb #1, for which I had measured out 0.05 pounds. 0.05 is just one tenth of 0.5. So the ratio I was looking for was 1:10.
So I also got:
0.075 pounds (3/4=0.75 cups) of herb #2
0.025 pounds (1/4=0.25 cups) of herb #3
0.1 pounds (1 cup) of herb #4
0.25 (1/4=0.25 cups) of herb #5

The weight in pounds I got for each herb was 1/10 the volume in cups. Yay for math! I can't wait for everyone to try it. I'll post the actual herbs after Christmas. ;)

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