Healing Herbal Teas: Learn to Blend 101 Specially Formulated Teas for Stress Management, Common Ailments, Seasonal Health, and Immune Support

Chapter 3

Tonics for Holistic Health

Virtually all holistic perspectives for health and healing include tried-and-true tonic recipes. In Western herbalism, the term tonic describes a general restorative action of a single herb or blend of herbs. Tonics act as a balancing force on multiple organ systems to increase overall vitality, energy, and equilibrium. They do this by feeding your cells a broad assortment of vitamins and minerals needed for healthy cellular metabolism. Regularly using tonic herbs, in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle, will play a powerful role in keeping your body strong and vibrant.

The strength and versatility of tonic herbs make them the cherished herbs of the hearth and family. They are the keepsakes that get carried in medicine bundles across continents and oceans. This free ride accounts for the wide dispersion of many of the world’s naturalized tonic herbs, including turmeric, burdock, licorice root, dandelion, parsley, and ginseng. No matter where you live, you rarely need to look far to find some of the best daily tonics suited to local climatic conditions. Nature and a legacy of human tending ensure that the restorative herbs we need are always close by.

I categorize tonics into three main groups: nutritive, rejuvenating, and aphrodisiacs. Nutritive tonics are vitamin- and mineral-rich herbs that build tissues and blood. Rejuvenating tonics are designed to balance the mind, body, and soul; they often work through the nervous system to help the body adapt to stress, increase energy reserves, and support emotional resilience. Aphrodisiacs foster a closeness between the drinker and the world. They are not usually “sexual tonics” but rather sensual tonics. They quell tension, lift the spirits, and help people experience full sensual beauty and joy in the world.

In the following pages I have placed tea blends in the categories I feel they best fit. Some could fit into more than one category. Regardless, all are delicious and make wonderful daily teas. Try making many of the blends and let your body tell you which ones work best for you.

How Much Tea Makes a Therapeutic Dose?

The therapeutic dose for an herbal tea is probably much larger than you think it is. For example, if you were buying tea in tea bags at the store, you would need at least four tea bags to create a therapeutic dose for yourself. I usually make loose-leaf teas with a ratio of at least 2 heaping tablespoons tea per serving and usually drink at least 2 cups of tea per serving. If you like mellower tea, you can make 4 cups of liquid for your serving. The dosage is really about how much tea you are using; the amount of water you decide to use depends on your taste preferences. I have a French press that holds 4 cups of liquid. I usually fill up the press almost a quarter of the way with tea before adding water — sometimes more if I am really in need of a medicinal dose.

Nutritive Tonics

Nutritive tonic teas will softly nourish your body and restore tissues that are weak or depleted by stress or disease. They carry a rich assortment of vitamins and minerals, increase fluids, and build blood and lymph. Nutritive tonics also nourish the muscular system by providing bioavailable minerals essential for healthy muscular function and recovery.

When blending nutritive teas, remember that many vitamin- and mineral-rich herbs taste sweet and slightly salty. Sweet herbs have a cooling and soothing effect on tissues. During spring and summer, lush, sweet, mineral-rich teas feel perfect on a hot day. Nutritive herbs can feel a bit too cooling during the winter months when our tissues already feel heavy and cold. To balance the cooling effect of these herbs I often add warming spices (fresh ginger, star anise, cinnamon, cayenne, orange zest) or aromatic herbs (such as rosemary, thyme, and sage).

Strength

Strength is a powerful nutritive tonic made from some of spring’s most gratifying and beloved herbs. These herbs often have a dedicated, resilient presence on the landscape. And lucky for us, they gently imbue our tissues with these qualities through the lush transfer of nutrients from their leaves into our own flesh and blood.

In early spring, we crave new growth and wait in buzzing anticipation for the earth to warm just enough for spring foods and herbs to sprout. Nettle, raspberry leaf, and mints hardly need much coaxing to propel themselves skyward as soon as the coast is clear. Nettle has a deep, earthy flavor with slight bitterness. Sometimes nettles smell and taste a tiny bit fishy, in a good way. Like many members of the rose family, red raspberry leaf adds an earthy, sour flavor and moderate astringency. All three are rich in mineral salts, which heighten the sweetness in the peppermint and subdue bitter and astringent qualities. These mineral powerhouses satiate our hunger for fresh herbs and foods while fennel and rose petals balance the blend toward an aromatic delicacy.

Ingredients

·        1.5 parts peppermint

·        1 part nettle leaf

·        1 part raspberry leaf

·        0.5 part fennel

·        0.5 part rose petals

Steeping

Hot infusion: Pour 1.5 cups hot water over 2 tablespoons tea. Steep for 10 to 15 minutes.

Cold infusion: Combine 2 cups cold water and 1 to 2 tablespoons tea in a lidded jar. Shake the jar to make sure all the tea is saturated. Place in the refrigerator or a cool place for at least 2 hours.

Taste: a really good combination of grassy, aromatic, sweet, and floral flavors

Herbal actions: nutritive, restorative, relaxing (nervine)

Systems enhanced: female reproductive system; muscular, circular, digestive, and nervous systems; kidneys and liver

Adaptogens for Stress

Stress is the leading cause of the majority of noninfectious diseases in the world. When we have a stressful day or experience a moment of fear, our bodies are designed to recuperate through rest and relaxation. But when we experience chronic stress that lasts days, weeks, months, or years, we become chronically fatigued and less able to bounce back and recover from acutely stressful encounters.

The loose category of herbs known as adaptogens help us deal with chronic stress through a variety of mechanisms. As herbs that enhance general health and well-being, adaptogens act as prophylactics by boosting the body’s resistance to physical, emotional, environmental, and biological stressors. They play a protective and restorative role in the central nervous system and have been shown to support normal metabolic processes and restore balance. Some are calming while others are invigorating. In combination with nervine herbs, such as skullcap and fennel, they are also helpful in mitigating the effects of acute stress.

Most of the adaptogens we know come from Russia, India, and China because these countries have been using them for restorative health and longevity for a long time. Ginseng, licorice, tulsi, eleuthero, codonopsis, ashwagandha, and astragalus are popular examples.

How a person responds to stress defines their long-term health. As a busy farmer and business owner, I experience the daily pangs of stress and uncertainty in my professional life. Making sure I drink teas that help protect my body from the negative effects of chronic stress go a long way to keep my body healthy. I also make sure I get lots of sleep and exercise, and eat a healthy diet to ensure I am doing everything I can to reduce stress and provide the basic nutrients I need to regenerate my body. Adaptogens have been helpful in keeping me adaptable, but they work best when careful attention is given to reducing daily stress.

Daily Mineral Tea

So often we neglect to feed our bodies enough vitamins and minerals from natural plant sources. This is one of my favorite vitamin and mineral teas for an active lifestyle — it adds a fantastic amount of micronutrients to your daily diet. Drinking a mineral-rich tea can eliminate the need for a daily mineral supplement, and whole-plant sources of minerals are often absorbed more effectively than store-bought multivitamin pills.

In the winter I drink a strong, hot cup daily, and in the summer I make a strong cold infusion and add a cup to my water bottle when I am out working. You can also make a sun tea from this blend. It can be stored cold in the fridge for a week.

Ingredients

·        3 parts fenugreek seeds

·        2 parts oat straw

·        2 parts milky oat tops

·        2 parts goji berries

·        2 parts mint

·        1 part alfalfa

·        1 part nettle leaf

·        1 part eleuthero (Siberian ginseng)

·        1 part anise seeds

·        0.5 part safflower

·        0.25 part red clover blossoms

Steeping

Hot infusion: Pour 1.5 cups hot water over 2 tablespoons tea. Steep for 10 to 15 minutes.

Cold infusion: Combine 2 cups cold water and 1 to 2 tablespoons tea in a lidded jar. Shake the jar to make sure all the tea is saturated. Place in the refrigerator or a cool place for at least 2 hours.

Taste: sweet and grassy with a wonderful aroma from the anise and mint

Herbal actions: nutritive, restorative

Systems enhanced: muscular, nervous

Respite Nervine Tea

This is a great mineral tonic with a nervine quality. I often make it when I feel a little frazzled by a busy day or have a stressful experience. Each of the herbs feeds the nervous system and supports healthy bones, blood, and muscles. This tea is cooling, so add some fresh grated ginger or cinnamon if you are already feeling energetically cold.

The base for Respite is similar to Strength with the addition of three slightly bitter herbs (chamomile, catnip, and skullcap) along with licorice to reduce their intensity on your palate. When it comes to herbal teas, it benefits the drinker to learn to appreciate strong flavors. Bitter herbs are often really bitter and the herbs we use to sweeten a tea tend to be overwhelmingly sweet. Medicinal herbs are a lot less understanding of our sensitive human palate than the culinary herbs we have selected and bred into softer, more pleasing versions of their wild brethren. As a tea formulator you will learn to constantly negotiate the intensity of the various herbs you use.

Ingredients

·        1.5 parts anise seeds or fennel

·        1.5 parts mint

·        1 part nettle leaf

·        1 part chamomile

·        1 part rose petals or 0.25 part lavender blossoms

·        1 part skullcap

·        0.5 part raspberry leaf

·        0.5 part catnip

·        0.25 part licorice root (or a spoonful of honey in each cup)

Steeping

Hot infusion: Pour 1.5 cups hot water over 2 tablespoons tea. Steep for 10 to 15 minutes.

Cold infusion: Combine 2 cups cold water and 1 to 2 tablespoons tea in a lidded jar. Shake the jar to make sure all the tea is saturated. Place in the refrigerator or a cool place for at least 2 hours.

Taste: smooth, palatable combination of bitter and sweet

Herbal actions: nervine, restorative

Systems affected: nervous, muscular

Respite without Mint

This blend has similar properties as Respite Nervine Tea but without the mint. Like many tonic teas, this blend has a pleasant taste and promotes general wellness. It also has slight calming properties, making it a great option when you feel stressed and depleted. To bring out the sweetness of these herbs, add one teaspoon of honey per cup.

Ingredients

·        1 part milky oat tops

·        1 part oat straw

·        1 part nettle leaf

·        1 part ginger

·        1 part rose hips

·        0.5 part chamomile

·        0.5 part lemongrass

·        0.25 part rosemary

Steeping

Hot infusion: Pour 1.5 cups hot water over 2 tablespoons tea. Steep for 10 to 15 minutes.

Cold infusion: Combine 2 cups cold water and 1 to 2 tablespoons tea in a lidded jar. Shake the jar to make sure all the tea is saturated. Place in the refrigerator or a cool place for at least 2 hours.

Taste: earthy, sweet, spicy

Herbal actions: general nutritive tonic, nervine

Systems affected: general nutritive tonic

Dream

This simple tea promotes relaxation and sleep. I adore this blend because anyone can easily grow each of these herbs in the backyard, and because the herbs are gentle and effective for quieting a chattery mind, releasing muscle tension, and promoting general relaxation so that your body naturally feels tired and falls asleep.

I often use Dream tea during the day when I am experiencing a period of intense stress. Kids also respond really well to this blend as a calming bedtime tea.

Ingredients

·        1.25 parts chamomile

·        1 part catnip

·        1 part skullcap

·        1 part mint

·        0.375 part licorice root

·        0.25 part hops

Steeping

Hot infusion: Pour 1.5 cups hot water over 2 tablespoons tea. Steep for 10 to 15 minutes.

Cold infusion: Combine 2 cups cold water and 1 to 2 tablespoons tea in a lidded jar. Shake the jar to make sure all the tea is saturated. Place in the refrigerator or a cool place for at least 2 hours.

Taste: earthy, bittersweet, with a hint of mint

Herbal actions: nervine, restorative

Systems affected: nervous, muscular

Glow: Beauty Tea

This is my most basic detox tea. It supports the liver and kidneys. When these organs are well taken care of, you will notice clear, naturally radiant skin and feel energetic.

Both dandelion and burdock are gentle and nourishing to the liver and kidneys. They work best if incorporated into your diet regularly. Burdock is energetically a “mover,” supporting the excretion of toxins from the body; it also supports beneficial gut flora. As a food, burdock root can be eaten in stews and soups. Dandelion is another common plant that lives pretty much everywhere humans do. Most people consider it a nuisance or a weed, but it works wonders in the body. Dried dandelion root in tea is used to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and abnormal blood sugar. It is also extremely beneficial to the liver,j and its bitter taste encourages bile production.

Nettles are incredibly nutritious. In spring, fresh local nettles reduce seasonal allergies through their natural antihistamine properties. Abundant and chock-full of vitamins, minerals, protein, and chlorophyll, nettles are a choice herb for mineral tonics. Nettles support kidney health and provide a nourishing quality to this detox tea.

Ingredients

·        1 part dandelion root

·        1 part burdock root

·        0.5 part nettle leaf

·        0.25 part licorice root

·        0.15 part calendula flowers

Steeping

Decoction: Combine 3 tablespoons tea and 3 cups cold water in a lidded saucepan. Slowly bring to a simmer without allowing the water to boil over. Let simmer over low heat for at least 20 minutes. Strain and enjoy.

Taste: earthy, bittersweet

Herbal actions: detox, tonic

Systems affected: liver, kidneys, skin, endocrine

Herb Spotlight

Calendula

Calendula can easily overtake your garden if you do not readily pluck the bright, uplifting flowers before they go to seed. It is a happy sight to see a garden full of calendula. One of my fondest memories is spending several days a week harvesting calendula flowers from huge fields when I was a summer intern at Herb Pharm. We would harvest every last flower in the fields, and two days later a whole new blush would appear.

The strength and deliberate nature of calendula is inspiring. I adore its ability to heal and soothe wounds and skin irritations. Internally, calendula has a diaphoretic effect, which can speed up elimination through the skin by encouraging sweating. It is well suited to those of us who have unresolved stagnation in the lymphatic system indicated by persistent swollen glands.

Digestive Tonic

Drinking this delicious tonic — especially prior to or immediately following a meal — helps balance the digestive system and relieve digestive upset. This is a basic, all-purpose digestive system tea that is designed to be drunk daily, and the herbs are easy to grow in your home garden. Supporting digestion is one of the best things you can do for daily health. A healthy digestive system can prevent many diseases over the long term.

If you experience occasional or persistent acid reflux, make sure you add the marshmallow root. With a sweet, thick texture, marshmallow root is a mucilaginous herb that is cooling and soothing to the throat and stomach. This tea has helped reduce acid reflux in many of my customers and friends.

Dandelion root, with its bitter-tasting compounds, helps stimulate the release of bile into the stomach and provides support to the liver. Ginger, one of the most powerful and important herbs used worldwide since antiquity, both warms the digestive system and relieves stomachaches, gas, nausea, and congestion. Both dandelion root and ginger support your digestive fire, allowing food to break down thoroughly in your stomach. The quicker your food is fully digested, the quicker nutrients are readily available to your cells. Strong, healthy digestion also ensures waste products are quickly eliminated from the body. The ideal transit time from eating to excreting is 18 to 24 hours. Fennel is a fabulous carminative herb, helping the body absorb excess gas in the digestive tract. Lesser known is fennel’s ability to assist in relaxation. Fennel also soothes inflamed tissues and offers a slightly sweet licorice taste. Mint is calming, helping the body to relax after a meal, and adds a nice flavor to the tea.

Ingredients

·        3 parts dandelion root

·        1 part fennel

·        1 part ginger

·        1 part peppermint

·        1 part spearmint

Optional additions

Chamomile, about 0.5 part, is another great herb to add to a digestive tea, especially in the evening. Chamomile calms the nervous system, which supports healthy digestion. Adding a pinch of slippery elm or marsh­mallow root to each cup will soothe inflamed tissues in the throat, stomach, or intestines.

Steeping

Hot infusion: Pour 1.5 cups hot water over 2 tablespoons tea. Steep for 10 to 15 minutes.

Cold infusion: Combine 2 cups cold water and 1 to 2 tablespoons tea in a lidded jar. Shake the jar to make sure all the tea is saturated. Place in the refrigerator or a cool place for at least 2 hours.

Taste: sweet, spicy, minty

Herbal actions: carminative, liver support, digestive

Systems affected: digestive, liver

Stress and Digestion

Sluggish digestion is extremely common due to many people’s stressful, on-the-go lifestyles. Nervous or anxious individuals (including those who are routinely “stressed out”) are especially susceptible to poor or sluggish digestion. The digestive system needs a lot of blood to do its job effectively, and stress shunts blood away from it. If you eat on the go or while working a stressful job, your digestive system may not be getting the energy and blood circulation it needs to function well.

It is important to rest your body and your brain after you eat to provide your digestive system with the energy it needs. Having a relaxing rest after a meal, even if only for half an hour, is a great habit to get into if you can. I realize that most of our work schedules simply don’t allow for long breaks after a meal, so at the very least drink a digestive tea as often as possible when you eat.

Herb Spotlight

Dandelion

Dandelion grows almost anywhere that humans are and, astonishingly, aids in eliminating toxins in both the body and the landscape. While most plant species would be too stressed out to thrive in contaminated or highly disturbed locations, dandelion is a daring first responder. The robust taproots draw up minerals while loosening and aerating the soil, making a much cleaner, softer environment for fungus and plants to reinhabit. Dandelion can even take in harsh or toxic substances and transform them through metabolic activity into much less dangerous compounds.

Dandelion’s action in the human body is as inspiring as its positive activism in the dirt. The leaves are a gentle diuretic, and their bitterness stimulates bile production when consumed in salads or tea. The greens also provide vitamins A, B, C, and D, as well as iron, zinc, and potassium. Human populations have used dandelion root for thousands of years for liver and gallbladder support, as it enhances the body’s ability to absorb nutrients and remove toxins.

Please appreciate dandelion’s persistence and diligence in showing up for the hard fight to restore balance to both our inner and outer ecosystems. Dandelion provides me with the emotional stamina I need to stay focused on being an agent of healing for the planet.

Vitamin C Tea

Rich in vitamins and antioxidants, this is a simple fruity blend. Using dried fruits can create a wonderfully sweet tea — a healthy and satisfying choice when you crave sweet foods.

Ingredients

·        2 parts rose hips

·        2 parts hibiscus

·        2 parts dried berries

·        1 part lemongrass

·        1 part linden

·        1 part white tea (optional)

·        0.75 part cinnamon

Steeping

Hot infusion: Pour 1.5 cups hot water over 2 tablespoons tea. Steep for 10 to 15 minutes.

Cold infusion: Combine 2 cups cold water and 1 to 2 tablespoons tea in a lidded jar. Shake the jar to make sure all the tea is saturated. Place in the refrigerator or a cool place for at least 2 hours.

Taste: fruity with notes of citrus

Herbal actions: provides vitamins and antioxidants

Systems affected: whole body (general tonic), nutritive

Gingerade

If you love the toning effects of ginger on your immunity and digestion, this tea is definitely a must-try. In addition to the spicy ginger, Gingerade contains the nutritive sweet herbs milky oats, fennel, and honeybush, which create a delicious blend. Rosemary, known as the herb of remembrance, supports the mind and memory. Lemongrass, with its delicate citrus scent, brightens the mind and uplifts mood. Adding fresh or dried fruits provides a little sweetness and a touch of sour. I often add elderberries because in addition to being antioxidant and a little sweet, they also support the immune system.

Ingredients

·        3 parts milky oats

·        2 parts ginger

·        2 parts honeybush

·        1 part lemongrass

·        1 part rose hips

·        1 part fennel

·        1 part dried berries (e.g., elderberry, blackberry, blueberry)

·        0.5 part rosemary

·        1 drop lemon essential oil, or fresh lemon zest to taste

Steeping

Hot infusion: Pour 1.5 cups hot water over 2 tablespoons tea. Steep for 10 to 15 minutes.

Cold infusion: Combine 2 cups cold water and 1 to 2 tablespoons tea in a lidded jar. Shake the jar to make sure all the tea is saturated. Place in the refrigerator or a cool place for at least 2 hours.

Taste: sweet, spicy, fruity

Herbal actions: supports digestion, mineral rich

Systems affected: digestive, general tonic

Vital Tea

Sometimes you need a little liquid courage to rise up and feel energized. Vital Tea is similar to Gingerade, but the addition of cinnamon and orange zest gives it a more pronounced warming quality. It is a great tonic for cold, achy mornings and can lift your spirit on a dark day. Though it is a decaf blend, it can help bolster energy by making your body feel warm and primed for movement.

Ingredients

·        2 parts honeybush

·        2 parts ginger

·        2 parts milky oat tops

·        1.5 parts lemongrass

·        1.5 parts rose hips

·        0.5 part orange zest

·        0.5 part rosemary

·        0.5 part cinnamon

Steeping

Hot infusion: Pour 1.5 cups hot water over 2 tablespoons tea. Steep for 10 to 15 minutes.

Cold infusion: Combine 2 cups cold water and 1 to 2 tablespoons tea in a lidded jar. Shake the jar to make sure all the tea is saturated. Place in the refrigerator or a cool place for at least 2 hours.

Taste: spicy, fruity, citrus

Herbal actions: nutritive, digestive, invigorating

Systems affected: general tonic

Indulge

Indulge is a wonderful expression of the lush summer season, honoring the beauty and sweetness of medicinal plants as they arrive at the end of their seasonal life cycle. Dominated by fruits and flowers, this blend is designed to be calming, floral, and sweet. For the dried berries, I often use homemade fruit leather chopped up in a food processor. Although Indulge is not the most potent of the nutritive teas in this section, it is still full of vitamins and antioxidants. Its complex fragrance and its light, delicious taste make it a wonderful reprieve from the darker, leafier, or grassier nutritive blends.

Ingredients

·        4 parts honeybush or rooibos

·        4 parts rose hips

·        4 parts dried berries (e.g., elderberry, currant, blackberry)

·        3 parts rose petals

·        2 parts milky oat tops

·        1 part calendula flowers

·        1 part lavender blossoms

·        1 part lemongrass

·        0.5 part chamomile

Steeping

Hot infusion: Pour 1.5 cups hot water over 2 tablespoons tea. Steep for 10 to 15 minutes.

Cold infusion: Combine 2 cups cold water and 1 to 2 tablespoons tea in a lidded jar. Shake the jar to make sure all the tea is saturated. Place in the refrigerator or a cool place for at least 2 hours.

Taste: sweet and slightly acidic, with a delicate aromatic balance of rose, lavender, and lemongrass

Herbal actions: nutritive, calming

Systems affected: general tonic

Rejuvenating Tonics

Revival of youthfulness in thought and physiology is what many people are seeking when they turn to herbs for guidance. These gentle, restorative teas can help revitalize your body and mind. They go hand in hand with a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise, good nutrition, and other habits that reduce stress and anxiety. When mind and body are renewed, your heart is opened to a richer diversity of feeling, and you can cultivate deep awareness and joyful creativity in your life.

Herbs that help restore energy reserves and build immunity are often the base for rejuvenative tonic blends. They promote longevity by preventing decay in organ systems. Rejuvenating tonics can be specific for an organ system or more generalized for whole-body balance. They can be energetically warm or cool, depending on herb choice. They typically help the body cope with stress.

Herb Spotlight

Tulsi

Tulsi, also called holy basil, is the queen of herbs in Ayurvedic medicine. Tulsi tea often contains a blend of three varieties traditionally grown in India, Southeast Asia, and parts of China: vana, krishna, and rama. These varieties are all more medicinal, pungent, and aromatic than culinary basil. A sacred plant to the Hindu god Vishnu, tulsi is used in prayers to ensure personal health, spiritual purity, and community well-being. In clinical practice, it is used to enhance cerebral circulation and memory and commonly used to relieve mental fog. Tulsi is also useful for reducing stress, anxiety, depression, and menopausal symptoms.

Balance

Balance is centered around the protective and balancing properties of tulsi, or holy basil. Stress and fatigue can cause lightheadedness, forgetfulness, and foggy thinking. Tulsi brings strength and balance to the nervous system, helping to restore mental function during and after periods of stress. Gotu kola promotes mental clarity and brilliance. Balance tea is blended with mint, rose, cinnamon, and cardamom for a delicious and well-rounded tea.

Ingredients

·        3 parts tulsi (if you have all three varieties, use 0.5 part vana, 1.25 parts krishna, 1.25 parts rama)

·        1 part peppermint

·        1 part cinnamon

·        1 part cardamom

·        0.5 part rose petals

·        0.5 part gotu kola

Steeping

Hot infusion: Pour 1.5 cups hot water over 2 tablespoons tea. Steep for 10 to 15 minutes.

Cold infusion: Combine 2 cups cold water and 1 to 2 tablespoons tea in a lidded jar. Shake the jar to make sure all the tea is saturated. Place in the refrigerator or a cool place for at least 2 hours.

Taste: spicy, minty

Herbal actions: adaptogenic, general tonic

Systems affected: nervous, digestive, immune

Think

Think is an energizing brain tea. Green tea energizes the body and encourages focus and endurance, while tulsi and gotu kola give you a mental boost. Lemongrass invigorates the mind, and breathing in the lemony aromatics awakens your senses.

This is one of my most popular teas at Harbor Herbalist. The complex, refreshing flavor is light and uplifting, blended with herbs that reduce stress. Gunpowder green tea comes from Zhejiang Province in China and has been around since the seventh century. It has a lighter flavor than many Chinese green tea varieties and is rolled into pellets to protect the leaves and retain quality, similar to oolong teas. Green tea is high in flavonoids (which are antioxidant), supports cardiovascular health, and improves blood circulation. This can have hugely beneficial effects on the amount of oxygen transported to the brain.

Ingredients

·        1.25 parts gunpowder green tea

·        1 part lemongrass

·        0.75 part tulsi

·        0.5 part gotu kola

Steeping

Hot infusion: Pour 1.5 cups hot water over 2 tablespoons tea. Steep for 10 to 15 minutes.

Cold infusion: Combine 2 cups cold water and 1 to 2 tablespoons tea in a lidded jar. Shake the jar to make sure all the tea is saturated. Place in the refrigerator or a cool place for at least 2 hours.

Taste: smooth green tea highlighted by aromatic tulsi and citrusy lemongrass

Herbal action: brain tonic

System affected: nervous

Herb Spotlight

Gotu Kola

Gotu kola, native to Asian wetlands, has been used to treat many conditions and is particularly beneficial to the nervous system. It is used clinically to treat anxiety, mental fatigue, and irritability. People in India drink a blend of fresh gotu kola leaves daily to support the nervous system and improve memory. In Thailand, the leaves are sold as a stimulant and afternoon pick-me-up.

Athlete’s Tea

Designed for physically active people, this blend helps build endurance and aids recovery after long hours of physical activity. As a daily tonic, Athlete’s Tea supports an active body and provides essential nutrients to the skeletal muscles, nervous system, and circulatory system.

Daily exercise is great for the body and mind. No matter if you are a yoga instructor or a bike commuter, this tea will help strengthen your body and mind and assist in cellular recuperation. Athlete’s Tea encourages muscle and joint recovery, provides micronutrients essential for an active body, and includes herbs that provide a mental boost to keep up confidence, focus, and personal morale.

Ingredients

·        1 part ashwagandha (Indian ginseng)

·        1 part dandelion root

·        0.5 part eleuthero (Siberian ginseng)

·        0.5 part peppermint

·        0.5 part skullcap

·        0.5 part nettle leaf

·        0.5 part gotu kola

·        0.25 part licorice root

Steeping

Hot infusion: Pour 1.5 cups hot water over 2 tablespoons tea. Steep for 10 to 15 minutes.

Cold infusion: Combine 2 cups cold water and 1 to 2 tablespoons tea in a lidded jar. Shake the jar to make sure all the tea is saturated. Place in the refrigerator or a cool place for at least 2 hours.

Taste: earthy, minty, slightly bittersweet

Herbal actions: supports physical stamina and recovery

Systems affected: nervous, muscular

Urinary Health Tea

This is a fabulous daily tonic for those prone to urinary tract infections or stress incontinence. The herbs in this blend promote kidney and bladder health, as well as prevent unwanted bacteria from traveling up the urinary tract. The flavor is sweet and grassy. If you prefer an even sweeter tea, try adding rooibos or honeybush.

Ingredients

·        2 parts dried cranberries

·        1 part nettle leaf

·        1 part horsetail

·        1 part corn silk

·        1 part rooibos or honeybush (optional)

·        0.5 part dandelion leaf

Steeping

Hot infusion: Pour 1.5 cups hot water over 2 tablespoons tea. Steep for 10 to 15 minutes.

Cold infusion: Combine 2 cups cold water and 1 to 2 tablespoons tea in a lidded jar. Shake the jar to make sure all the tea is saturated. Place in the refrigerator or a cool place for at least 2 hours.

Taste: sour, bittersweet

Herbal actions: nutritive, supports urinary tract health

System affected: urinary tract

Women’s Blend

This blend nourishes and balances female hormones to reduce painful periods and mood swings in menstruating women and lessen the physical discomfort of menopause. It also encourages nervous system balance.

Ingredients

·        1.5 parts rose hips

·        1 part dandelion root

·        1 part burdock root

·        1 part dong quai

·        1 part astragalus

·        1 part ginger

·        1 part cinnamon

·        0.5 part shatavari

·        0.5 part orange peel

·        0.25 part reishi mushrooms

·        0.25 part clove

Steeping

Decoction: Combine 3 tablespoons tea and 3 cups cold water in a lidded saucepan. Slowly bring to a simmer without allowing the water to boil over. Let simmer over low heat for at least 20 minutes. Strain and enjoy.

Taste: earthy, spicy

Herbal actions: supports hormonal balance in women

Systems affected: endocrine, nervous

Daily Adrenal Support

This is a great tonic for managing stress and rejuvenating the adrenal glands. Four adaptogenic herbs (chaga, reishi, astragalus, and ashwagandha) create the base of the blend; the spices are added for balance. Reishi and chaga are medicinal mushrooms that have been shown to support immunity and have adaptogenic properties, helping to reduce the effects of stress and restore natural energy reserves. Astragalus is a wonderfully nourishing herb that helps prevent immune weakness. Codonopsis is similar to but less intense than Asian ginseng. You could use ginseng instead if you had access to it, though I think codonopsis works better for those who are sensitive to stimulants.

I prefer adrenal tonic blends like this one that nourish the adrenals but do not have an overall stimulating effect. And I like to combine adaptogens with digestive herbs because people who suffer from adrenal weakness or fatigue often have concurrent digestive issues. Fennel is added for its naturally sweet taste and calming effects on digestion and the nervous system. Cinnamon is a great warming aromatic herb that promotes immunity and digestion and supports blood sugar regulation. Ginger, a workhorse of an herb, is anti-inflammatory and digestive and supports immunity. You can omit the ginger if you notice you feel hot and dry most of the time already.

Ingredients

·        2 parts chaga mushrooms

·        2 parts Ceylon cinnamon

·        1 part reishi mushrooms

·        1 part astragalus

·        1 part codonopsis or Asian ginseng

·        1 part fennel

·        1 part dried or grated fresh ginger

Steeping

Decoction: Combine 3 tablespoons tea and 3 cups cold water in a lidded saucepan. Slowly bring to a simmer without allowing the water to boil over. Let simmer over low heat for at least 20 minutes. Strain and enjoy.

Taste: sweet and spicy with an earthy base

Herbal actions: adaptogenic, digestif, general tonic

Systems affected: nervous, digestive, immune

Herb Spotlight

Eleuthero

As an adaptogenic herb, eleuthero (also called Siberian ginseng), helps replenish a depleted nervous system and enables your body to better combat the damaging effects of stress. It is particularly good for athletes who suffer from muscle fatigue and soreness. Eleuthero can also be useful in restoring mind-body balance. My restless mind sometimes causes me to tense my muscles, so I often forgo caffeinated teas and drink a stress-reduction blend with eleuthero each morning instead. I find that over time I have less muscle tightness and a lot more energy than if I drink caffeine.

Refresh

Whether you drink it hot on a cool morning or iced on a warm afternoon, Refresh is, well, refreshing. The base is an aromatic masala chai (ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, fennel, and clove) with kukicha. Kukicha tea is the twigs and stems from the tea plant that have been aged and roasted. I like almost all roasted herbs in small quantities: they add deep richness to the flavor, and this one is almost sweet.

Kukicha twig tea is particularly popular in Japan. When buying kukicha, I often seek out types and brands that are almost all twig without much leaf. The clean twig versions work a little better in this blend because it needs to be steeped for around 10 minutes, and if there are too many leaf bits the tea can become bitter. The clean twigs and stems are caffeine-free.

An adaptogenic blend with a slightly chai-like flavor, this tea helps the body manage stress, eases digestion, and supports general immunity. Eleuthero has energizing effects, while burdock is added for a little detoxification and nourishment in the kidneys. Chaga mushrooms are high in antioxidants. Finally, I added mint to Refresh to do just what the tea is named for.

Ingredients

·        2 parts kukicha twig tea

·        1.5 parts ginger

·        1 part cinnamon

·        1 part mint

·        0.75 part cardamom

·        0.75 part burdock root

·        0.75 part fennel

·        0.75 part chaga mushrooms

·        0.5 part codonopsis

·        0.5 part eleuthero (Siberian ginseng)

·        0.25 part clove

Steeping

Lightly simmer the herbs in a combination of milk and water for 10 minutes or steep in hot water for 10 to 15 minutes. This tea benefits from the addition of a small amount of honey. My sister thinks it tastes better without milk — be courageous and try it both ways.

Taste: earthy, minty, spicy

Herbal actions: supports digestion, adaptogenic

Systems affected: nervous, digestive, immune

Repose

This is a lovely adrenal support tea with a rich, roasted flavor. You can roast your own whole-grain barley in the husk, as often done in Korea (see Roasting Your Own Barley ), or just the grain, as often done in China. Roasted grain teas provide nutritive sugars and feel warming and soothing, especially in cooler climates. Because most of the herbs in this blend are a little on the cooling side, adding a roasted grain or kukicha twig tea neutralizes some of that cooling energy.

Adrenal fatigue affects people differently. This tea was designed for individuals who consistently feel drained and experience patterns of dizziness, touchy emotions, shaky muscles, restless sleep, and an overall feeling of not being able to think clearly. If you tend to feel stressed and over­stimulated in situations that feel relatively safe to most other people, then Repose is a great daily tonic for you. Introverts and people who have experienced abuse and are actively trying to repair and heal should try this tea blend as daily herbal support.

I love Repose because it slowly and gently restores balance in people who do not respond well to super-energizing adaptogen herbs. For many of us, life provides too much excitement and anxiety, and having a tea that rejuvenates your endocrine system without stimulating it can be a true gift.

Ingredients

·        1 part kukicha twig tea or roasted barley

·        1 part chaga mushrooms

·        1 part astragalus

·        1 part codonopsis

·        1 part rose hips

·        1 part fennel

·        0.5 part reishi mushrooms

Steeping

Decoction: Combine 3 tablespoons tea and 3 cups cold water in a lidded saucepan. Slowly bring to a simmer without allowing the water to boil over. Let simmer over low heat or at least 20 minutes. Strain and enjoy.

Taste: rich roasted base with a good balance of sweet and slightly sour

Herbal action: general tonic

Systems affected: nervous, immune

Kids’ Tea

Vitamin C Tea

Try making this healthy, kid-friendly tea as an alternative to sugary drinks. Kids’ Tea is full of delicious fruits and herbs packed with vitamins and minerals for growing kids, and it doubles as a great vitamin C tea for adults.

Ingredients

·        3 parts milky oat tops

·        2 parts rose hips

·        2 parts elderberry

·        1 part goji berry

·        1 part orange peel

·        1 part cinnamon

·        1 part lemongrass

·        1 part schisandra berries or other dried fruit (optional)

·        0.5 part hibiscus

·        0.5 part burdock root

·        0.25 part licorice

Steeping

Pour 1.5 cups hot water over 2 tablespoons tea. Steep for 10 to 15 minutes.

Taste: sweet, citrusy, fruity, and a little tangy

Herbal action: nourishing

Systems enhanced: general tonic

Masala Chai

Masala chai comes from India and has been used for many centuries. As a health tonic, it combines some of the most therapeutic spices grown in India.

Spicy chai teas were the first teas that attracted me to the idea of tonic teas. I have always been drawn to rich, aromatic foods that simultaneously support digestion and immunity. The combination of masala spices, tea, milk, and sugar create a tea that is both holistic and delicious. One of the main reasons I appreciate a really thoughtful chai is because each sip provides a profoundly full taste experience: chai teas are sweet, spicy, slightly acidic, and even a little bitter. I even add a tiny pinch of salt so the tea tastes a little brighter. The fat from the milk helps draw out fat-soluble constituents from the herbs and allows the flavors to linger on the palate, lengthening the taste experience.

The process of simmering rich, aromatic spices over the stove for an hour brings life and aroma to your kitchen. My whole chest swells with anticipation when I walk into the kitchen while I am making my chai tea concentrate. The scent of chai tells me I am feeding my body and spirit something truly special and healing.

When I make chai, I begin with a concentrate of decocted spices. The basic spices are ginger; fennel, anise, or star anise; cardamom; cinnamon; and peppercorn. Other spices, such as clove, allspice, bay, orange zest, vanilla bean, saffron, and nutmeg, can be added for a more complex base. When choosing spices try to get whole spices with vibrant color and scent. You can grind them by hand with a mortar and pestle or quickly chop them in a spice grinder before using them. Medicinal potency lasts longer in spices that have not been ground until you are ready to use them.

Chai Spice Basics

Ginger (fresh or dried): Gingerroot has a distinctly spicy and slightly acidic flavor that is common in herbal teas, especially chai. Ginger supports digestion, immunity, and circulation and is highly anti-inflammatory. I absolutely love fresh ginger and use it almost every day. Ginger grows easily in the tropics, but even in Washington State I am able to grow fresh young ginger in a greenhouse and harvest the young roots in mid-fall to use in cooking and tea making throughout the winter. You can use dried ginger in chai, but fresh ginger is brighter and more refreshing. Ginger provides the base for chai, and you will notice that most recipes have a greater concentration of ginger than other spices.

Fennel seeds, anise seeds, or star anise pods: Fennel, anise, and star anise are interchangeable. I usually use fennel seeds because they are inexpensive and they impart a sweet, aniselike aromatic quality to the concentrate. I can easily grow large patches of fennel and harvest the plump seeds mid­summer for tea. Star anise is a much more expensive spice from the tropics. I sometimes toss a few star anise pods into my decoction, but I don’t find it cost effective to add large amounts. However, star anise helps create a strong base in my decaf chai blends because its flavor has more in common with clove and allspice than fennel.

Cardamom: Cardamom is expensive, so I tend to use it sparingly. I usually buy cardamom pods and grind them just before adding them to my spice blend to preserve their medicinal and aromatic qualities. The essential oils in cardamom are volatile and will evaporate and degrade quickly if stored improperly. And because cardamom is so expensive, it will be important for you to handle it carefully and preserve it. The taste of cardamom is distinct, and many Middle Eastern cultures use cardamom in desserts for its carminative effects on digestion. Cardamom is also antimicrobial, and people have been adding it to foods to reduce the risk of food-borne illnesses for millenia.

Cinnamon: I am a huge fan of cinnamon and find that it helps regulate my blood sugar and provides lots of warming digestive support. Living in a cool, damp climate, I add cinnamon to many of my fall and winter teas. It has a natural drying and warming effect on my body and is a simple protective herb that smells and tastes delicious.

We use several different species of cinnamon for flavoring food and in herbal medicine. They all come from the laurel family and are just a few of the two thousand different species in the genus Cinnamomum. Most of the cinnamon grown and harvested for global export comes from Indonesia, Vietnam, or China and is one of three species grouped together and called “cassia”: C. cassia , C. aromaticum , and C. loureiroi .

Cassia is a faster-growing and more sustainable type of cinnamon than Cinnamomum verum , a species referred to as Ceylon cinnamon, true cinnamon, or sweet cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon, grown in Sri Lanka, is more expensive but has been shown to be more therapeutic and medicinal than cassia cinnamons. It also has far fewer coumarins, chemicals that can have damaging effects on the liver when consumed in high doses. Ceylon cinnamon is also more antibacterial than cassia and can be more effective in prevention and treatment of bacterial infections. Both cassia and Ceylon cinnamon have been shown to help balance blood sugar levels and support people with arthritic conditions.

Ultimately, if you are an avid cinnamon consumer or using it in therapeutic doses, I recommend using Ceylon cinnamon, but if you just use it occasionally in chai teas or in cooking, then cassia is fine. I mostly use cassia myself. The difference in flavor is very interesting and worthy of experimentation. Cassia cinnamon tastes spicier than Ceylon, while Ceylon tastes sweeter. The biggest importer of Ceylon cinnamon in the world is Mexico. Modern Mexican cuisine almost exclusively uses sweet Ceylon cinnamon in both savory and sweet dishes.

Peppercorns: Peppercorns add the characteristic sharp spice to chai tea. Black pepper strengthens circulation, aids in clearing congestion, and helps the body metabolize the nutrients we ingest.

Basic Chai

This is a basic recipe for a simple, elegant semispicy chai concentrate. It has the rich, full-bodied flavor that is characteristic of chai in India. It can also be used as a base recipe for a more personalized chai using your local spices and herbs. This recipe is for the spice blend only. Following this recipe, I explain how to make a cup of chai that includes black tea, which provides a beautifully dramatic base. Assam is an affordable black tea with a malty taste that is a great base for chai blends. I find that preparing the base first and then adding the black tea at the end results in a tastier cup of chai. Add a teaspoon of honey to draw out the sweetness of fennel and cinnamon.

Depending on my mood, needs, and the time of year, my chai recipes change. But overall, chai does not have to be complicated. It can be as simple as adding a pinch of cinnamon and cardamom to your favorite black tea. Experiment with this recipe and the ones on the following pages, and feel free to improvise your own special blend.

Ingredients

·        4 parts grated fresh ginger (or 3 parts dried ginger)

·        2 parts fennel seeds

·        1 part cardamom

·        1 part cinnamon

·        0.25 part black pepper

·        1–2 crushed bay leaves (optional)

To Make the Concentrate

Use 2 teaspoons spice mix for every 1 cup water. (For example, use 1 ⁄4 cup spice mix for every 6 cups water.) Combine the spices and cool water in a lidded saucepan. Bring to a slight boil and let simmer over low heat for 20 to 40 minutes, being careful not to let the water boil over. Keep a lid on the saucepan to limit evaporation of both water and essential oils in the spices. The concentrate can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. I usually keep the spices in the concentrate and strain them when I am preparing a serving.

To Make a Cup of Chai

Combine 1 cup concentrate and 1 cup milk in a lidded saucepan. Warm over medium heat, but try to avoid boiling, which can scald the milk. Once the mixture is steaming hot, add 1 teaspoon black tea and 1 teaspoon honey. Steep for 4 to 6 minutes, strain, and enjoy.

Taste: rich and spicy from aromatic spices and black pepper balanced with the sweetness of fennel and cinnamon

Herbal action: general tonic

Systems affected: circulatory, immune, digestive

Delight Chai

This chai is for those who really love rich, deep spices. Added to the basic chai blend is star anise, clove, orange zest, and allspice. You can add a little vanilla bean for even more decadence and delight.

Use 1 teaspoon Assam tea per cup.

Ingredients

·        3 parts grated fresh ginger

·        2 parts cinnamon

·        1 part cardamom

·        1 part fennel

·        0.5 part star anise

·        0.25 part allspice

·        0.25 part clove

·        0.25 part orange zest

·        0.1 part black pepper

·        Pinch of saffron

Decaf Chai

I recommend this luxurious blend on a cool evening when your body could use a little warmth all the way to your fingers and toes. The flavor of Decaf Chai is accented by allspice and nutmeg, making this tea delicious when combined with milk and a touch of honey.

You can use either rooibos or honeybush as a base. Rooibos has a tangy, bright flavor, sort of like rose hips, while honeybush tends to be a bit more fruity and sweet. For caffeinated teas, you should add the tea at the end of the process, but for honeybush and rooibos you’ll find their flavor deepens and develops when simmered in water — and they won’t go bitter on you like black tea.

Ingredients

·        3.5 parts honeybush or rooibos

·        3 parts ginger

·        2 parts fennel

·        2 parts cardamom

·        1.5 parts cinnamon

·        0.5 part allspice

·        0.5 part orange zest

·        0.25 part nutmeg

Vanilla Chai

Well balanced and delicate, Vanilla Chai tastes like a fantastic dessert. Fresh ginger, orange zest, and real vanilla bean transform this blend into a lush sensual experience.

The recipe lists the Darjeeling tea in parts and as 1 teaspoon per cup. This is because this blend also tastes good as a loose-leaf tea steeped in milk if you do not have time to make the concentrate. If you are making the tea as a decoction, omit the 3 parts tea and just add 1 teaspoon per cup when you make a serving. Top off each cup with the uplifting aromatics of fresh orange zest.

Ingredients

·        3 parts Darjeeling tea, or 1 teaspoon per cup

·        2 parts grated fresh ginger

·        1 part cinnamon

·        1 part cardamom

·        1 part dried orange zest

·        0.5 part nutmeg

·        0.25 part black pepper

·        1 vanilla bean per pound of blended tea

·        Pinch of fresh orange zest as a garnish

Rainy Day Chai

When you feel achy and damp, take the time to prepare a cup of Rainy Day Chai! This is a great blend to energize the body and mind on a gloomy day. Chai tends to have a drying effect on tissues due to its strong warming and spicy nature. The orange zest will dramatically brighten the flavor and character of the tea.

Use 1 teaspoon black tea per cup.

Ingredients

·        3 parts grated fresh ginger

·        2 parts fennel

·        2 parts cinnamon

·        1 part cardamom

·        0.5 part allspice

·        0.5 part nutmeg

·        0.5 part clove

·        0.25 part black pepper

·        0.1 part vanilla bean

·        Pinch of fresh orange zest as a garnish

Chai Light

The following three chai blends are designed for infusions — you do not need to decoct the spices by making a concentrate. It is really challenging to make your own traditional chai at work or when you are busy, so keep these blends on hand to drink when you don’t have time to make chai using the stovetop method.

Bright Chai

Bright chai has a sweet and spicy mouthfeel with luxurious aromatics. If you like your tea spicier, you can reduce the amount of black tea or add a pinch of black pepper to each cup.

Ingredients

·        3 parts black tea (Assam or Ceylon) or rooibos

·        2 parts dried ginger (or 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger per cup)

·        1 part cinnamon

·        0.5 part cardamom

·        0.5 part star anise

·        0.25 part allspice

·        0.25 part licorice root

·        1 vanilla bean per pound of blended tea

·        1 saffron thread per cup

Steeping

Pour 1.5 cups hot water or hot milk over 1 tablespoon tea. Steep for 5 to 8 minutes.

Mint and Spice Chai

This is another chai that works great as an infusion, and it has a very different character from the other chai blends. It tastes less spicy and more herbal, while the mint adds a calming and uplifting quality. This tea does not have ginger, so it is not quite as warming. I love this tea as a digestif after a meal. It satisfies my sweet tooth, too.

Ingredients

·        2 parts Assam black tea

·        1 part mint

·        1 part fennel

·        0.5 part cinnamon

·        0.25 part cardamom

·        0.25 part clove

Steeping

Pour 1.5 cups hot water or hot milk over 1 tablespoon tea. Steep for 5 to 7 minutes.

Cardamom-Rose Chai

Uplifting, digestive, and delicious, Cardamom-Rose Chai will make you feel beautiful. I recommend drinking it in the morning or after lunch. This blend always brings a sense of peace and clarity to my thoughts.

Ingredients

·        3 parts black tea

·        2 parts cardamom

·        1 part rose petals

·        1 part cinnamon

·        1 part mint

·        1 vanilla bean per pound of blended tea

Steeping

Pour 1.5 cups hot water over 1 tablespoon tea. Steep for 4 to 8 minutes.

Aphrodisiacs

Both women and men experience body shaming in dramatic ways throughout their lives. Our culture is rife with ageism and false standards for beauty. We should be celebrating the miraculous diversity of beauty in our culture rather than defining narrow parameters that are difficult for most of us to fit. These aphrodisiac teas are not designed for male or female virility, per se (though plenty of herbs out there do specifically enhance virility). Instead they are designed to make a person feel really good and beautiful, which naturally leads to more openness and intimacy.

Physical intimacy should be fun and make you feel fabulous! The teas in this section excite and uplift the spirit. They are not intoxicating, but rather allow a person to experience greater self-love, which enhances the connection between two people. Herbs such as damiana have been used for centuries as a natural aphrodisiac that seems to reduce self-consciousness and increase a sense of closeness and attraction. Cloves increase circulation throughout your body, which can heighten arousal when combined with damiana and cacao.

Bliss

This blend is intended to be fun and uplifting and nourishing to the nervous system. The relaxing effects of passionflower balance the potency of the damiana. Licorice root is an adaptogen herb, helping the body adapt to stress and supporting the immune system. I use licorice in many blends because it has been shown to be protective against adrenal fatigue. Plus, it adds a really nice sweetness that has an immediately soothing effect on the mouth and throat.

Ceylon cinnamon and clove are warming sensual herbs that may strengthen circulation. Rose hips add a kiss of tangy sweetness to the blend and provide a little vitamin C and some antioxidants. Roasted cacao nibs add a subtle roasted character that helps uplift and comfort. Bliss tea rouses the senses!

Ingredients

·        3 parts mint

·        2 parts cacao nibs

·        2 parts damiana

·        1.5 parts Ceylon cinnamon

·        1.5 parts rose hips

·        1 part passionflower

·        0.25 part clove

·        0.25 part licorice root

Steeping

Pour 1.5 cups hot water over 1 tablespoon tea. Steep for 5 to 10 minutes.

Taste: an interesting balance of bitter and sweet, with an aroma of mint and chocolate

Herbal action: aphrodisiac

Systems affected: nervous, circulatory

Herb Spotlight

Damiana

Throughout Mexico and Central America, damiana has been used traditionally as a nervous system tonic and aphrodisiac. From my own experience, it has an amazing ability to increase energy without increasing anxiety. Because I get a sense of general well-being when I drink damiana tea, I like to rely on it for days when I feel low. When you need some motivation, have a cup of tea with damiana, and you will be out flirting with the world in no time.

Love Tea

Love Tea gently nourishes your nervous system and supports libido while enhancing feelings of self-love and natural beauty. Drink this tea to elevate the strong, radiant being within you, and share it with your partner to strengthen heart-centered connection and physical intimacy. This blend is not super potent, so start with one cup and see how you feel. If you feel you need more, make yourself another cup, or a whole pot.

Damiana is native to the southern United States and northern Mexico. It has traditionally been used to relieve nervousness, anxiety, and mild depression, especially connected to sex. Milky oats are a nourishing nervine herb. Muira puama is a South American herb that has long been used to increase libido in both men and women, but also to manage stress and treat mild exhaustion. Eleuthero, an adaptogenic herb that protects the nervous system, is a strong ally in a stressful world. Shatavari is a great ally for women, as it supports healthy hormonal balance. Spicy ginger helps you feel warm, while peppermint, fennel, rose, and vanilla bean add delicious flavor, nourishment, and an accent of beauty. This tea achieves a masterful balance of flavor.

Ingredients

·        5 parts milky oats

·        3 parts damiana

·        2 parts eleuthero (Siberian ginseng)

·        2 parts shatavari

·        2 parts muira puama

·        2 parts fennel

·        2 parts peppermint

·        1.5 parts ginger

·        1 part rose

·        1 vanilla bean per pound of blended tea

Steeping

Pour 1.5 cups hot water over 2 tablespoons tea. Steep for 10 to 15 minutes.

Taste: slightly sweet, floral, spicy, and ever so slightly bitter — a gorgeously sublime blend that defies distinct flavor profiles

Herbal actions: nutritive, aphrodisiac

Systems affected: nervous, reproductive

Love Your Life Tea

Rose and vanilla aromatics make Love Your Life an uplifting and intensely enjoyable tea to savor and sip. Chamomile relaxes the body, and the slightly bitter flavor balances the intensity of sweet and floral notes. Rose hips add vitamin C and sweetness, while hibiscus brings a unique tangy flavor, especially if steeped for more than 6 minutes. I love making a large pot of this tea and letting it continually steep while I drink successive cups. This gives me a chance to drink a cup at multiple flavor stages.

Ingredients

·        1 part rose petals

·        1 part chamomile

·        0.5 part hibiscus

·        0.5 part rose hips

·        1 vanilla bean per pound of blended tea

Steeping

Hot infusion: Pour 1.5 cups hot water over 1 tablespoon tea. Steep for 4 to 10 minutes.

Cold infusion: Combine 2 cups cold water and 1 to 2 tablespoons tea in a lidded jar. Shake the jar to make sure all the tea is saturated. Place in the refrigerator or a cool place for at least 2 hours.

Taste: sweet and sour base with floral and vanilla aromatics, delightfully heady

Herbal actions: uplifting, relaxing

System affected: nervous

Chocolatl Spiced Drinking Chocolate

You will be blown away by the fragrance and flavor of this raw herbal drinking chocolate. Raw cacao is a wonderful superfood that enhances and is enhanced by other herbs and spices, such as chilies, cinnamon, and mints. I am always captivated by the dance of flavor created by infusing them together in hot water and milk.

Cacao is a truly sensual herb, and when combined with spices it makes a feel-good aphrodisiac tea. You can make this tea as spicy as you want with either chipotle pepper or cayenne. Try it when you crave a little pick-me-up — you’ll find it creamy, invigorating, and a little bit sweet. I enjoy it as a dessert tea and often serve it at parties.

Ingredients

·        2 parts raw cacao powder

·        1.5 parts chamomile

·        1 part peppermint

·        0.75 part cinnamon

·        0.35 part star anise

·        Pinch of chipotle pepper or cayenne per cup

·        1 teaspoon honey per cup

Steeping

Hot tea: Combine 3 ⁄4 cup milk and 3 ⁄4 cup water in a saucepan. Bring to a low simmer. Pour hot liquid over 1 to 2 teaspoons tea. Steep for 5 to 10 minutes. Strain. Add 1 teaspoon honey.

Iced tea: Pour 3 ⁄4 cup hot water over 1 to 2 teaspoons tea. Steep for 5 to 10 minutes. Strain. Add 1 teaspoon honey. Refrigerate. Once chilled, add 3 ⁄4 cup milk and a few ice cubes.

Taste: bittersweet base with warming aromatics, calming mints, and spicy chilies

Herbal actions: uplifting and invigorating

System affected: nervous

Herb Spotlight

cacao

We often forget or don’t know that some stimulating substances like chocolate and coffee, which are ubiquitous in our lives today, were used sparingly in the cultures from which they came. Cacao was incredibly sacred to the Maya and Aztec people, so much so that it was reserved for special occasions and ceremonies. Often mixed into a frothy tea with chilies, spices, and other medicinal or psychoactive herbs, chocolate was used as a medium that works synergistically with the medicine as it travels through the body and mind of the drinker. Chocolatl tea offers you a chance to meditate on cacao as a medicine and medium, not just an easily accessible sweet treat.