does this HAVE to be seeped in water like a tea?
No. In fact hot water can destroy some compounds in plants, which is why I rarely use herbs in a tea form for medicinal properties.
I just got it in the mail and it says on there to mix in hot water and let it sit for 20-30 mins then drink but it tastes AWFUL. will it be effective if I just take it straight up with some water to chase it down?
Yes, you can simply put it under your tongue, take a mouth full of water, swish and swallow. I put powders under my tongue first to help reduce the risk of possible inhalation.