We are practitioners. The herbs we choose are rich in color, fragrance, and flavor. Good sources for raw herbs are Asia natural and Mayway among others. We think that nitrogen flushed packages for seeds and herbs with high oil content are essential. While chemical analysis cannot be assumed reliable beyond question, we welcome the effort. Suppliers should expect practitioners to check herbs with precision because reputations are on the line. Rancid and moldy herbs are unacceptable and to prevent this, they must be kept very dry and away from atmospheric oxygen. Before herb quality improved in recent years, we grew a number of them ourselves. How does a practitioner guard against impurities, fillers, and, junk-quality herbs sneaking in? The size of each package purchased should be manageably small. Small enough so that literally each herb can be viewed like a master chef at a fine restaurant looks over each vegetable. -A factory worker receiving a truck load of vegetables (or herbs) for the mass-manufacture of 10,000 packaged soup mixes cannot be so meticulous. For the practitioner seeking herbal products with the highest potential, quality control includes creating an eminently potent concentrate, not drying it, and, if not using it right away, immediately stabilizing it with a preservative (alcohol).
For people who habitually stick their nose in packaged foods, it is not unusual to discover rancid (oxidized/stale) chips, pasta, cereal, et al., once in a while. Rancidity occurs mostly in items that were in a powder form mid processing and that do not contain preservatives. Inherently then, this is a real problem with dry herbal extract concentrates. It can reduce them to sawdust-like potency or transform them into free-radical toxins. Extract powders are always suspect. Pills presumably can be protected from oxygen once the powder is pressed into pills or encapsulated; but then their true character is hidden from detection by the senses. In a dried extract, the oil from the seeds of suan zao ren/zizzyphus spinosa, gua lou ren/trichosanthes, and nan xing ren/pruni arnenica, to name just a few, are turning rancid from the moment they’re exposed to atmospheric oxygen –the finer the powder, the more surface area is susceptible. As one practitioner put it, “Once, after opening a bottle of tao ren/persica concentrated extract powder and smelling the rancidity, I almost dropped dead right there”. Heard of Mu li/oyster shell concentrate smelling like diesel fuel? As conscientious acupuncturists, we are trained to examine raw herbs for rancidity and impurities by taste, smell, and visually before cooking regardless of any certifications or guarantees. To the student’s detriment, educators often overlook concentrated extract scrutiny, yet an evaluation is easy, only takes a few minutes, and could easily mean the difference between a successful practice or a failed practice. -Smell it first, make a tea, then taste it. -Comparing 2 brands will reveal the superior one. Simple. We tested some brands: Click up top on, ESSENTIALS OF HERBAL PRESCRIBING.
Correctly cooking a Chinese tea is Childs play; but making a tea concentrate without ruining it is like crafting a samurai sword. Everyone preparing JR13 TCM herbal tea concentrates has a master’s degree in TCM, and it’s all done traditionally by hand. But realistically speaking, a concentrate will never be at the level of a fresh tea made from dried herbs.