When they reached the Order of Adunih clinic in the Dust Quarter, Seira started looking for someone they could talk to about volunteering. It didn't take long before she found a woman wearing a blue cloak.
"Hi. My name is Seira Shiryu, and this is my sister, Seriel. Who can we talk to about volunteering here?"
The woman smiled at the twins.
"You can talk to me. My name is Chiara, and any willing pair of hands will be put to good use here. Do you have any medical experience at all?"
"A little. We know how to make a number of herbal remedies; specifically infused oils, salves, lotions, and balms. Seriel and I also know what elder flowers and elderberries, eucalyptus, feverfew, lavender, sage, and willow bark can be used to treat. And we can help sort through herb stores because we how to tell if dried herbs are fresh or if they're close to expiring." Seira offered eagerly.
"I'm guessing that the two of you have an interest in herbs?"
The twins nodded.
"Well, I think we can work with that. I was just about to check our supplies for old herbs now, and I'd be happy for some help."
Chiara led the twins over to where they stored the herbs.
"You can start at that end, and I will start at this one. How does that sound?"
"We can do that." Seira said as she and Seri moved over to the side that Chiara was pointing at.
"If you have any questions about whether an herb is okay to use or not, set it aside, and ask me before you toss it. While you're sorting through the herbs, I would like you to put the older ones in front so that they get used up first."
Seira and Seri nodded again. They had done this sort of thing at Storm's Edge, so Seira was confident that they would be able to do it now. For a while, the three of them worked in silence. Every so often, Seira and Seri saw Chiara watching them to make sure that they were doing the job correctly. It made sense that she would do so; Chiara didn't know that they really knew what they were doing, after all. Seira just hoped that when they proved that they could be trusted to do this on their own they would be.
"So you're interested in learning how to make herbal remedies...would you like to learn about some more while we work?"
Seira's and Seri's eyes lit up in interest.
"We'd love to." they said in unison.
"Okay. So most of the herbal remedies you know about so far are used topically. But there are remedies that can be consumed as well. Take herbal teas for example. Herbal teas are also called tisanes. They are a beverage that is made from plants, seeds, flowers, roots or fruits of all plants except for actual tea leaves. Herbal teas are warm, and soothing to drink; that alone can give some comfort to someone who is ill. They can also be used topically as a wash or a bath. That makes them one of the more versatile remedies at our disposal."
Seira paid close attention to Chiara's words as she worked. So much so that her progress slowed greatly, and she found herself having to stop and check what she was doing a lot. But it was worth it to her if it meant learning something new. She just hoped that Chiara wouldn't get frustrated with her and stop teaching her if she couldn't listen and work at the same time effectively.
"How do you make herbal teas?" Seri asked.
It was a good question. Seira knew how to make a cup of tea in theory...even if she was far from a good cook. But were herbal teas made the same way that other teas were?
"Making herbal teas is easy. Teas are made by pouring boiling water over the dried herb or blend of herbs that is being used, and allowing it to steep for anywhere from five to twenty bits before straining the liquid and giving it to the patient. You can use fresh herbs instead of dried herbs to make herbal teas as well. If you are using fresh herbs, you would want to steep them in boiling water for five to ten bits, not twenty. The longer you steep the herbs, the stronger the tea will be."
Again, Seira paid very close attention to what Chiara was telling her. She wished that she had some paper so she could take notes, but that wasn't really something she could do while she was working. So she simply did her best to commit the information to memory.
"Oh, and there's one more thing. With some herbs, you will want to use warm water or hot water instead of boiling water when making tea with them."
They worked in silence for a while after that. When they had finished checking the herbs in one storage room, Chiara led the girls to another storage area. Once there, she gestured for the twins to start at one end while she started at the other. Seira noticed that this time, the blue cloaked healer wasn't watching them as closely. It made Seira feel good to know that Chiara trusted her to know what she was doing...somewhat, at least.
"Herbal infusions are similar to herbal teas in the way they are consumed, but they are stronger than normal teas are because you use more herbs to make them. They are steeped for longer amounts of time as well."
"How many herbs would you use to make an infusion?" Seira asked.
"How long would you steep an infusion for?" Seri asked a trill later.
"For the first question, that depends on whether you are using dried herbs or fresh ones. You would want to use either two ounces of fresh herbs, or two generous handfuls of dried herbs to make an infusion. The herbs would be placed into a glass jar, and then you would pour a pint of water over them. It is important that the herbs are completely covered by the water. The water and herbs are then left to steep overnight."
Seira nodded to show that she understood when Chiara looked at her.
"In a pinch, they can be allowed to steep for less time than that, but they must be allowed to steep for at least four breaks for the infusion to be effective. Longer is better. Ten breaks, or overnight is ideal. Once the mixture has finished steeping, it must be strained. You can use a strainer or a cheesecloth for that."
Seri nodded this time. Seira was too busy trying to commit the information she had just learned to memory.
"If you need large quantities of an infusion, you can use a cup of dried herbs in a quart of water. This must be left to steep over night though. Once the infusion has been made, individual portions can then be heated for use as needed."
"So the difference between an herbal tea and an infusion is how strong a remedy they are?" Seira asked carefully.
"That, the amount of herbs that is used to make them, and the amount of time that they need to be steeped." she replied.
"Thank you for being willing to teach us, Chiara."
"I'm happy to teach someone who is interested in what I do. Thank you for volunteering to help us."
They finished sorting through the rest of the herbs in silence.