Decoctions were next, and the man leant down to pick up a large iron pot and place iton the centre of the front desk. He turned to the desk drawers next and pulled out stems, roots, and barks as he continued on with the lecture. The way he managed to multitask with such ease made it evident to Virikai that this man was an experienced lecturer, and he felt respect for him. “It's another form of extraction that occurs from herb to liquid. Quite similar to infusion really, though we do not make use of dried ingredients, ah, and the water, only water, must be boiled. They are boiled for a longer time, in order to infuse the water.”
The scion barely glanced up from his notes as he continued to jot down notes as his teacher spoke and demonstrated in front of him. He missed where the water came from, but next he knew, the lecturer had a steaming pot of water and poured it into the iron pot. “Stems, roots, leaves, barks, you could use practically anything of a plant for this, though, it is uncommon compared to the rest,”
One by one, he placed the ingredients that he'd brought out into a mortar and pestle, and began to crush them. “You'll need to thoroughly mash your ingredient, or ingredients, before incorporating them into the mix.” He picked up the mortar and tilted it, allowing the students to see an example.
“So, infusion, tincture and decoction. They are the most precise and complicated forms by far. Whilst I have provided a simple demonstration, individual herbs and medicines will require slightly different practices, please remember that. Now… for the last two…” he trailed off, as he walked over to the window and grabbled a few more pieces of leaves from a plant, immediately placing it in his mouth and chewing it. The entire class leaned away from the man and wore sour faces, Virikai scowled, deciding that perhaps herbalism wasn’t for him, if this was what he might have to do.
The professor only grinned at the class in satisfaction. “They are quite simple,” he finished, as he spit the chewed up leaves into a little bowl. Sharp gasps were all emitted in unison, and Virikai’s scowl did not disappear. “The fourth, is simply grinding a herb until it is practically a grain or powder. Sometimes, you will need to moisten it up a bit, and you could either incorporate some water in there, or chew it up, if you lack some.” He brought out a few mounds of stems and began crushing it with the mortar and pestle, to demonstrate a second way to grind the herbs.
“The fifth, if you are wondering, is the simplest method of all: using the ingredient as it is. Some leaves work their magic by just making contact on the skin or by just being ingested,” The old man set the previous containers and materials aside and trailed his eyes over his students, expression grave.
“Again, although it seems incredibly simple, I must impress upon all of you the importance of not just handing over herbs to a patient. You must know them well, know their condition well, and know the herb well. Herbalism, whilst considered by many to be ‘alternative’ is not without its dangers, and a wrong move could kill a patient.” Then the smile returned and he clapped his hands together, “For now, a short break, as I prepare our next discussion.”