Ask a naturopath: What do herbal liquids taste like & why?

May 10, 2022
Ready to try liquid herbal extracts but nervy about the taste? Here naturopath Alison Potts shares all the lowdown on what makes these herbs taste hardcore and how you’ll quickly learn to love them.

By Alison Potts

Q: What do herbal liquids taste like?

A: When people ask me this question, my opening answer is always “um, herby?!” with a big smile, knowing this doesn’t even begin to describe what a wild ride your taste buds are in for when experiencing the difference of liquid herbal extracts. I liken this question to asking your local greengrocer, ‘What do vegetables taste like?’ – there is no simple answer, they are all distinctly different. Plus, every person’s perception of taste differs too. The same applies to liquid herbal extracts.

Q: What makes them taste so herby?

A: Good question, let’s first get clear on exactly what a liquid herbal extract is. After harvesting the herb (depending on the plant, this may be the root, leaves, bark, whole herb, flowers, seeds, the list goes on…) the herb is cut into small pieces to help extract all the goodness! It is added to a large, perforated drum (think giant tea strainer) and a liquid solvent of plant-derived ethanol and water is added. The drum is sealed in a percolator, more solvent is added and after a few days, the liquid is passed through a press and filter to squeeze and purify the final liquid herbal extract. This is known as a ‘cold percolation process’, no heat is used meaning the integrity of the herb is maintained through to the final liquid extract.

I love to take liquid herbal extracts. I love the ones that trick my taste buds just as much as the ones which treat my tastebuds. And the reason is simple, liquid extracts are an authentic, natural extraction of the herb – the colour, taste, and smell, along with the extensive profile of phytochemical constituents which provide therapeutic benefits.

Depending on the herb they may taste earthy, leafy, ‘green’, aromatic, a little spicy, and oftentimes quite bitter. Don’t be deterred, they are not all bad. In my experience, the more regularly I take each herb the more my tastebuds adjust – the longer you take them the easier it gets. I also like to remind myself that the bitter aspects of the extract actually have their own therapeutic benefits, by stimulating our bitter taste receptors we are stimulating our digestion.

Q: How do you take your liquid herbal extracts?

A: There are many ways to take liquid herbal extracts. Being a potent and concentrated extract of the herb only a small amount is needed, usually between 2-5mL, making them very versatile and convenient – just drop straight on your tongue and go. I love to add turmeric liquid extract to my ginger tea, it adds the most gorgeous golden colour and the earthy flavour is so complementary. Others I prefer to mix with a small amount of water and knock them straight back. They can be added to herbals teas, juices, or smoothies.

However you choose to take yours, enjoy that herb-y goodness! If they aren’t quite to your taste buds’ liking, be assured, that anything packing such a punch of mother nature’s unique and complex flavour has to be good for you, right?!

Alison is a naturopath with a love for plants and herbal medicine. She is a mama to two energetic boys and loves spending weekends with her family. When she has a moment to herself you can find her doing yoga, cooking (and eating!), practicing Reiki (a new-found love) or pondering whether she should enjoy just one more coffee.

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