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

Chapter 5

Seasonal Teas

We humans are sensitive, perceiving organisms, and our health depends on how well our bodies respond to the world around us. It turns out that we can manage a tremendous amount of stress through simple, thoughtful awareness of the seasons. Paying close attention to the growth of the plants and animals that immediately surround you can help you be more conscious of the changes in your own thoughts and feelings as the seasons change.

Those of us living in regions where winter and summer differ starkly often find that our energy ebbs and flows cyclically year after year. The seasons play a driving role in how we think, how we feel, what activities we prioritize, and how well we cope with stress. But paying attention to how nature’s cycles affect you doesn’t mean dropping all your responsibilities when the seasons change or blaming your behavior on changes in the weather. Instead, it’s really about understanding the dynamic influences the seasons have on the body, developing healthy habits that work in unison with seasonal energetics, and learning to appreciate the opportunities nature provides you day to day, month to month, season to season. You will find yourself becoming more adaptable, and feel more agency, pleasure, and emotional stability in your life.

Each season presents the body with different kinds of support and stress. In the heat of the summer, knowing how to stay cool and hydrated with nourishing iced teas can have a powerful impact on your energy, stamina, and cardiovascular function. During the winter, the body struggles to keep warm, so different herbs and teas are used to boost immunity and feel cozy in your own skin. Drinking teas for seasonal health does not have to be complicated. I usually have half a dozen teas on hand during each season to provide the tender support my body needs. I create teas that I find pleasurable to drink, and I encourage you to do the same. The recipes in this book are just to get you started; it is likely that you will alter some of the recipes to better suit your own body and taste preferences.

By anticipating what your body needs, you can mentally and physically prepare for each season — before seasonal stress catches you by surprise and takes a negative toll on your body.

Cold brewing a green tea with fresh herbs in the summer has a different quality and feel than hovering over your hot cup in anticipation of a strong, spicy, immune-support tea in the middle of winter. Drinking tea should be different from season to season, since our bodies are processing and perceiving strikingly different environmental conditions and energetics. The combination of herbs and steeping methods you use will vary depending on general characteristics about the seasons where you live.

Seasonal teas take center stage in my life because I try to notice and feel the little shifts in light, dark, seasonal weather, and the expansive or contracting energy of the season. My body knows when it is time to start shifting my personal apothecary up or down the spectrum of cooling and warming or moistening and drying herbs. Simple awareness about how you feel in relationship to your place in any given part of the year makes managing your health a lot less complicated. This chapter should give you inspiration for building healthy patterns in your life with seasonal teas.

Spring

Early spring is a time of rebirth. Winter is rapidly receding, giving way to spritely young leaves and shoots. It is time to put energy into visioning your spring and summer and planning how you will get new projects off the ground. To get the most out of spring energy, break down large projects into small, bite-sized pieces that bring about the eventual transformation you are seeking.

Gardeners have fun and surprising work to do in early spring: starting seeds, cleaning up beds, taking inventory as plants come back to life, and removing dead plant material from the previous year. I love springtime gardening and its un­predictable weather; a renewed desire to get out and work pushes and tugs at your heartstrings and patience. Warm days tempt you to start planting, but cold nights force you to hold back until that daytime warmth lingers and blankets the nights. Sun, wind, hail, and rain seem to loop endlessly. I’m inspired by the sun to jump up and start a project outside, only to find myself sprinting for cover a few minutes later as an intense downpour suddenly moves in. I never get bored predicting what the day might bring in spring.

The resilient energy of spring can help foster all kinds of creative projects. Perhaps you’ll be motivated to refocus on a neglected project or start something entirely new. I do a lot of experimental gardening with native edible species from all over Washington and Oregon, and in early spring I just cannot wait to start inventorying plants. If the winter was severe, I take note of any casualties, but mostly I live each moment in a state of awe that so many delicate plants reemerge with such vibrancy and personality.

By mid-spring we see dramatic, rapid change and growth that sets the tone for the rest of the growing season. The whole ecosystem wakes up: soil critters begin to wiggle and reveal themselves, dormant seeds suddenly sprout, and after a grand showy display from early spring flowers, the leaves emerge and eventually form the lush canopy that shades us during the heat of the summer.

The unpredictability of spring weather can be really confusing to your body. The teas in this section are varied to reflect the transitional character of spring. Because spring is temperamental, we must learn to be flexible and adaptable. We can take a lot of inspiration from nature. Listen to your body, notice where you are holding stress, and use teas that help establish resilience and physical and mental flexibility. If your brain is in overdrive because spring has opened up a complex web of ideas and desires, it is a good idea to protect your nervous system and encourage muscular and mental energy. But you also might need to drink nervine teas at night to calm a chattery mind. If you feel strongly affected by quick changes in weather, try drinking nutritive and grounding teas and make sure you stay hydrated. Experiment with different teas to help balance your physical and emotional energy.

The taste most associated with spring is sour — not necessarily like citrus or hibiscus, but rather that of new growth. Unfurling buds and shoots reaching toward the sky often have a fresh, youthful flavor and are rich in organic acids. The bright, sour taste of young fir tips or miner’s lettuce are perfect examples. This flavor is incredibly refreshing and has a lush, green energy.

Where I live, in the Pacific Northwest, the practical aspects of spring start earlier than the spring equinox. Look around you and notice when the landscape starts to burgeon; let your place be your guide.

Allergy Tea

Have Allergy Tea blended and on hand by early March. Local nettles, honey, and bee pollen can help reduce the severity of seasonal allergies, but you have to start taking them early in the season (a few weeks before you typically start feeling spring allergies) as a food or in tea.

The herbs in this blend reduce springtime pollen sensitivity and allergy symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, congestion, inflamed sinuses, and watery eyes. Nettles have a natural anti­histamine in their leaves and a soothing effect on the respiratory system. Try to buy fresh or carefully dried local nettles. Otherwise, search for freeze-dried nettles if you are serious about using them as an antihistamine supplement. Eye bright is helpful for puffy, red eyes, as is elderflower, which can also reduce fever. Red clover flower has long been used in allergy blends for its expectorant properties, and catnip is a natural decongestant with calming properties. Marshmallow is a demulcent herb; it has a smooth, slimy texture (from sweet mucopolysaccharides in the tissue of the plant) that soothes dry, irritated, or inflamed tissues of the throat and lungs.

Bee pollen can help desensitize the body to allergens. A daily low dose is very helpful for some people. It is definitely worth trying!

Ingredients

·        3 parts nettle leaf

·        1.5 parts catnip

·        1.5 parts peppermint

·        1.5 parts anise seeds

·        1 part eye bright

·        1 part elderflower

·        1 part marshmallow root

·        1 part local bee pollen or 1 teaspoon local honey (optional)

·        0.5 part red clover blossoms

Steeping

Pour 1.5 cups hot water over 1 tablespoon tea. Cover and steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Add a touch of local honey for a sweeter taste.

Taste: grassy, with accents of mints and anise

Herbal actions: reduces seasonal allergic response and relieves allergy symptoms

Systems affected: sinuses, immune, and nervous

Herb Spotlight

Nettles

In springtime I get really excited about making tea with fresh or freshly dried nettles, one of the first medicinal plants to reemerge after a long winter. Nettles come up amid the heavy, cold early spring rains, fearless of late frosts and perfectly timed to help rebuild tissue and blood after the cold, immobile winter. Full of chlorophyll, protein, minerals, and vitamins B, K, and A, nettle is nature’s multivitamin.

I really like herbalist Matthew Wood’s description of nettle. He visualizes the “nettle spirit as an older lady with a broom or a switch exhorting people to get going, get a move on, don’t just sit around, do something.” The nettle way is to move stagnant energy by building tissue strength and removing excesses. Nettle works on the kidneys and mucous membranes (it can help remove excess mucus and bring about balance). I have also read accounts of nettle helping to break fevers. I often like to include it in spring and winter blends along with other warming herbs, because, just as Matthew Wood described, it motivates me to get going.

I always harvest nettles with gloves on, carefully drawing up the top two layers of leaves and cutting the stem right at the point of their third level of leaves. When cooking with fresh nettles, it is very important not to overblanch them, which can quickly break down their delicate nutrients.

Drink and eat nettles whenever possible during the spring when they are at their peak perfection! I recommend rich, creamy leek and nettle soup made with bone broth and wild spring mushrooms, or simply blanch and sauté them with garlic and aromatic spices. I also enjoy nettle spreads made from quickly blanched nettles, yogurt or tangy soft cheese, lemon or champagne vinegar, chopped garlic and onion, and a healthy sprinkling of toasted and crushed cumin, fennel, and coriander seeds.

Spring Revival!

This is a nourishing caffeinated spring blend. As winter opens into spring, you will have highly energetic days mixed with sluggish days as your body adjusts to the change in season. It’s a great tea to drink on the sluggish days as it helps nourish the body with energizing vitamins and minerals but also has caffeine.

Ingredients

·        1 part nettle leaf

·        1 part black tea or oolong

·        1 part fennel

·        0.5 part mint

·        0.5 part rose petals

Steeping

Pour 1.5 cups hot water over 1 tablespoon tea. Steep for 3 minutes. Strain. Re-steep for another 4 minutes. It is important to strain the tea out of the water in between steepings so the black or oolong tea does not go bitter on you.

Taste: dark, malty base with accents of sweet mints, rose, and fennel

Herbal actions: nutritive, energizing

System affected: nervous

Spring Nutritive Tea

Lush, nutritive spring teas taste so good. Because we have primarily been eating foods that are either preserved, processed, or shipped from faraway places during the winter, we instinctually crave fresh, grassy flavors in spring. These herbs revive both the body and the spirit. Most people don’t think of oat straw and alfalfa as foods, but both are incredibly nutritious and have quite a combined range of vitamins, minerals, and protein. Using them in teas allows you to extract a lot of nourishment without having to process all the fiber. This tea is basically a powerhouse of nutrients to feed your tissues after a long, slow winter. As our bodies and minds become more active in spring, it is important that we get the basic nutrients necessary to build, maintain, and restore muscles, bones, blood, and joints.

Ingredients

·        3 parts fenugreek seeds

·        2 parts milky oat tops

·        2 parts oat straw

·        2 parts goji berries

·        2 parts mint

·        1 part alfalfa

·        1 part eleuthero (Siberian ginseng)

·        1 part anise seeds

·        1 part nettle leaf

Steeping

Pour 1.5 cups hot water over 1 tablespoon tea. Steep for 5 to 20 minutes. The longer you steep, the more vitamins and minerals will be extracted. If you decide to steep for more than 20 minutes, use 2 cups of water so the flavor of the tea isn’t too strong.

Taste: mellow flavor of sweet milky oats, goji berries, and anise paired with grassy nettles and alfalfa

Herbal action: nutritive

Systems affected: general tonic

Elegance Tea

White teas are soft and airy in nature, as reflected in their light color and smooth taste. They remind me of spring’s delicacy and help me reflect on the aspects of myself that are reemerging after winter. It takes courage for plants to expand and spread toward the sky when the weather and future are uncertain. It is equally courageous for people to focus and continue to develop as we age.

White teas are some of the earliest spring pickings from the tea plant. The light, elegant aroma and taste of white tea is perfectly complemented by rose petals and osmanthus flowers. Osmanthus flowers are sweet and intoxicating, while rose petals are bright and enchanting. The balance achieved among the three is miraculous as they gently captivate your senses. You are whisked away, rising above the cup as you breathe in the fragrance, and as you are carried through the high floral notes, you begin to notice the ever-so-subtle scent of the tea leaves: earthy in comparison to the flowers. Take a sip. The profound sensual experience of this tea will warm, energize, and inspire you.

Ingredients

·        1 part white tea

·        0.5 part rose petals

·        0.25 part osmanthus flowers

Steeping

I like to use a tea pitcher and a gongfu-style tea set to make the most of my caffeinated teas. Because this tea can and should be steeped many times, I use just a small amount of tea, about a teaspoon. Also, I rinse my tea set as well as the tea itself in hot water before I steep my first cup for drinking. I do this by pouring hot water over the leaves as if I were making a cup of tea. I let them steep for about 15 seconds and then pour off the water or strain the tea. Then I pour fresh hot water to steep the tea for drinking — but I only steep it for about 30 seconds. You can probably steep Elegance Tea five or six times before the flavor starts to wane, though you can continue to steep it up to nine or ten times. This process allows you to experience a dramatic spectrum of flavors and scents as the tea and flowers are extracted.

Taste: light and grassy, a wonderful play between fresh white tea and sweet osmanthus and rose

Herbal actions: energizing, uplifting

System affected: nervous

Spring Aid

Spring Aid is a unique, tangy, vitamin-rich tea. I originally formulated it as a tea to drink after exercising. Rich in electrolytes and minerals, it is refreshing and delicious without all the artificial and natural flavorings of store-bought sports drinks. This blend supports muscle recuperation, strengthens energy and resilience, and can be drunk as a general tonic for active individuals.

During spring getting exercise and fresh air is thrilling. Our bodies feel electrified with possibilities and potential. It is great to have a sports tea that you can take with you on a long walk or a bike ride that will keep you hydrated and satisfied.

Ingredients

·        4 parts rose hips

·        3 parts lemonbalm

·        3 parts ginger

·        3 parts orange zest

·        3 parts lemongrass

·        3 parts schisandra

·        2 parts cinnamon

Steeping

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

Taste: bright sweet-and-sour taste with a touch of spicy ginger and aromatic cinnamon

Herbal actions: thirst quenching, nutritive, tissue building

System affected: muscular

Spring Strength

How well you nourish your body and how emotionally strong and healthy you feel are powerfully connected. When you treat yourself to nourishing herbal teas that taste amazing and strengthen your body, you naturally feel like a confident, powerful being.

This is a more warming iteration of Strength tea. Deliciously dark and aromatic, this simple blend of some of spring’s most beloved herbs is one I especially recommend as a daily tonic for women. This tea helps build muscles and bones, tones the female reproductive system, improves mood, and strengthens digestion. Having a cup of Spring Strength is a powerful ritual that encourages vitality and health.

Ingredients

·        1 part nettle leaf

·        1 part raspberry leaf

·        1 part fennel

·        1 part mint

·        0.5 part ginger

·        0.5 part rose petals

Steeping

Pour 1.5 cups hot water over 1 tablespoon tea. Steep for at least 8 minutes.

Taste: a great aroma of licorice, mint, and rose; deep and earthy, with rising notes of spices and mints

Herbal action: nutritive tonic

Systems affected: strengthens many organ systems

Spring Tonic

This is a general spring tonic that needs to be decocted to extract its full range of beneficial nutrients. It is designed to help the body remain strong as you add more physical stress to your life. During winter, our bodies tend to slow down and focus inward. When spring arrives, our energy moves outward. As we step out into the world on warm days and begin outdoor projects, we are often surprised by how tired and limited our bodies feel after a relatively sedentary winter. Designed to help increase muscle stamina and recuperation, support immunity, and provide digestive support, Spring Tonic is wonderful for overall wellness.

You can make a large batch of Spring Tonic and add a cup to your water bottle each time you fill up.

Ingredients

·        1 part dandelion root

·        1 part burdock root

·        0.5 part ginger

·        0.5 part cinnamon

·        0.5 part codonopsis

·        0.25 part reishi mushrooms

·        0.25 part astragalus

·        0.25 part licorice root

Steeping

Combine 2 tablespoons tea and 4 cups room-temperature water in a lidded saucepan. Simmer over low heat for 20 to 60 minutes. Strain. Let the tea cool down a little, and enjoy.

Taste: earthy with accents of sweet, spicy, and slight bitterness

Herbal action: nutritive

Systems affected: general tonic

Clarity

White teas are perfect for spring and early summer. Clarifying, light, and full of antioxidants, they help lift energy. Ginger and cinnamon are great for supporting the immune system and digestion, and they balance the body on days when it feels hot one minute and cold the next. Schisandra, a sour Chinese herb, helps stimulate digestion and has a wonderful tonic effect on the nervous system. Lemonbalm is a great spring nervine herb to calm the nerves and adds nice citrus notes alongside the lemongrass. Rose hips provide a tangy sweetness and lots of vitamin C. They are also anti-inflammatory.

This blend is to help hail the coming warmer weather. It’s meant to provide digestive support and soothe cravings for both sweet and spicy as the weather improves. My hope is that it is bold enough to steer you from less healthy drink choices.

Ingredients

·        2 parts white tea

·        1 part rose hips

·        0.5 part ginger

·        0.5 part cinnamon

·        0.5 part lemongrass

·        0.25 part schisandra

·        0.25 part lemonbalm

·        0.25 part orange zest

Steeping

Pour 1.5 cups hot water over 1 teaspoon tea. Steep for 2 minutes. Strain. Steep again for 4 to 5 minutes.

Taste: a nicely balanced blend of sweet, sour, and spicy; wonderfully bright and tangy

Herbal actions: energizing, immune supporting, nutritive, tonic

Systems affected: nervous, immune, skin

Spring Immunity

The spiciness of this immune-support tea will heat your body and eventually induce sweating. The heat of spicy teas and foods create an inhospitable environment for many types of pathogens. Heat can denature foreign proteins in the body, which is why we often experience fevers when we have the flu — our bodies are trying to kill pathogens by raising body temperature.

Though echinacea is touted as an immune-boosting herb, in this tea I use it more for its antimicrobial properties. Fairly bitter in taste, echinacea is most effective when taken at the first onset of sickness. I tend not to use it often in herbal teas because I feel that many other herbs and herbal combinations consistently work better for immunity when administered in a tea form.

Ginger is one of my favorite tonic herbs for keeping the body healthy. It is safe to use every day and performs really well in immune-support teas in concentrated quantities. It is antimicrobial, warming, anti-inflammatory, and a tonic to the digestive system, easing queasiness and nausea. Tulsi, usually used as an adaptogen for the nervous system, also strengthens the immune system’s response and helps you recover quickly after an acute infection. I think of tulsi as a powerful strengthener. Lastly, lemongrass and mint add balance and flavor, brighten mood, and help clear and protect sinuses with their volatile essential oils.

Drink Spring Immunity when you need to quickly eradicate an infection. It is strongly diaphoretic and antimicrobial. I drink a cup or two of this tea whenever I start to get a pesky spring cold.

Ingredients

·        1 part tulsi

·        1 part ginger

·        1 part mint

·        0.5 part lemongrass

·        0.5 part echinacea

·        0.1 part cayenne

Steeping

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

Taste: a bold blend of bittersweet and spicy

Herbal actions: supports immunity

System affected: immune

Green Love

Green Love has a wonderful spring taste and nutritive properties, and sencha is a bright, grassy Japanese green tea that carries a quintessential spring flavor. Green love is formulated for tea lovers who just cannot get enough spring in their step and love to surround themselves with the fragrance and tastes of a reemerging season.

Ingredients

·        5 parts sencha tea

·        2.5 parts milky oat tops

·        1 part nettle leaf

·        1 part red clover blossoms

Steeping

Pour 1.5 cups hot water over 1 to 2 tablespoons tea. Steep several times with short durations, no more than 2 minutes per steep. This will allow you to get the most nutrients from the blend and keep the sencha tea from developing a bitter taste.

Taste: distinctly grassy with a touch of sweet grains

Herbal actions: nutritive, energizing

Systems affected: general tissues, nervous

Wake Up!

This robust, caffeinated morning blend with deliciously dark and enigmatic keemun tea will certainly start your day off right. It’s ever so slightly bittersweet, which can help improve morning digestion. Hawthorn is a strong and wonderful cardiovascular tonic herb that strengthens the physical and emotional heart. As part of your morning routine, Wake Up! should help increase circulation and provide the vitamins and minerals you need for a get-up-and-get-moving attitude. You can also drink it as an afternoon pick-me-up if you need a little motivation after lunch.

The flavor of this tea is finely balanced between an earthy bittersweet base, ephemeral citrus, and aromatic spices that seem to dance above the cup as you sip. The keemun tea, hawthorn, tulsi, and nettles provide the base for the flavor. Then you begin to taste the mood-brightening citrus notes from the orange zest and lemongrass, and finally you notice the lovely sweetness from the cinnamon, hawthorn berries, anise, and rose hips. If your mouth is sensitive, you will also experience a lingering tingle on your tongue from the tulsi, which is totally amazing (and normal).

Ingredients

·        2 parts keemun tea

·        2 parts orange zest

·        1.5 parts tulsi

·        1.5 parts rose hips

·        1.5 parts hawthorn leaf and flower

·        1 part hawthorn berries

·        1 part lemongrass

·        1 part cinnamon

·        1 part nettle leaf

·        1 part anise seeds

Steeping

Pour 1.5 cups hot water over 1 tablespoon tea. Steep for 4 minutes. Strain. Enjoy. Then steep again for another 4 minutes. You will experience two distinctly different but equally delicious flavors.

Taste: nice medley of bittersweet, spicy, and earthy

Herbal actions: energizing, heart strengthening, nutritive

Systems affected: cardiovascular, nervous, musculoskeletal

Summer

In summertime, whenever I drive from the city back to my farm, I am overwhelmed by fragrance and rich beauty as soon as I open the car door. I love that moment, when my body ceases to be strictly cerebral, relaxes, and becomes grounded in the familiar sensual footprint of my home. Just about everywhere I walk, I notice the unique smells from the volatile essential oils of flowers, leaves, fruits, and seeds.

Inspired by the energy and intuition of nature, we find our energy is often directed outward in spring and summer. Sensually, we tend to be more attentive to the voices outside ourselves; we are more physically aware and less analytic. In summertime, let yourself be renewed and immersed in the world around you. Use your senses to their fullest. Let yourself be slowed down by the heat and captivated by the showy beauty of the season.

The summer solstice marks a pivotal moment when the days begin to shorten and contract again. Plants notice this change and begin to focus more energy on reproduction, with summer flowers coming into full swing by early July. Flowers often have a slight bitterness and astringency in their taste but overwhelm the senses with their intoxicating scents. Some of my favorite flowers to use in tea are linden, hawthorn, and rose. At times when you start to feel too stimulated or inflamed, add bitter herbs like skullcap, dandelion, and California poppy to help cool tissues.

As summer progresses, fruits become ripe and provide a whole spectrum of sweet flavors to explore in your teas. Sweetness indicates nutritive qualities, and sweet herbs often have a cooling, moistening effect on tissues. Important sweet herbs commonly used during summer are those with mucopolysaccharides, such as mallows and licorice. Other examples of sweet herbs for teas are milky oat tops, corn silk, burdock, berries, and fruits.

As summer begins to wane, we naturally feel an instinct to begin processing and storing our bounty for the winter months. Our hands work in high gear so that we can have fresh, vibrant nutrients and flavors in the cold, dark recesses of winter. But for many people, summer has a lot fewer seasonal stressors than the other seasons. Teas that promote sleep, muscular recuperation, cardiovascular strength, and digestion, as well as teas that cool the body down during a hot afternoon, are the most important teas for summer. Green teas with their fresh taste and caffeine help keep you energized and ready to explore nature. Many of my summer iced teas incorporate fruits instead of sugar.

Summer should be a time of edible opulence. Indulge in fresh, locally grown herbs and foods. Let yourself enjoy the simple pleasure of eating and drinking spectacular wholesome flavors. Everything you ingest gets broken down, and most of it gets metabolized and transformed into the tissues that make up you. Summer is a perfect time to form deeper friendships with the foods and herbs that inevitably build the best version of your physical body.

Summer Solstice

This nutritive blend contains the best of both spring and summer and celebrates both our forests and gardens. By mid-June, Douglas fir tips begin to deepen in color and texture as they mature. You could use tips from other conifers that grow in your region, just make sure they are safe to use in tea. I harvest and dry the tips of Douglas fir for teas several weeks before the solstice, when they have the bright, soft energy of youth. Personally, I think of Douglas fir as a symbol of perseverance and virility. It is a tree that seems to refuse to struggle with the seasons, providing us with protection from both summer heat and heavy winter rains. Their tips taste simultaneously earthy, resinous, and citrusy.

Aromatic roses and mints offer their uplifting and refreshing properties to this blend while hawthorn leaf and flower protect the physical and emotional heart. Anise is at its peak in my garden around the solstice and its mild licorice flavor helps balance and slightly sweeten the tea. If you decide to use this blend for iced tea, the anise will be more noticeable.

Nettle adds depth to the flavor but also provides minerals, kidney support, and nervine properties. Along with Douglas fir and hawthorn, nettles can be foraged and dried during spring.

Ingredients

·        1 part Douglas fir tips

·        1 part hawthorn leaf and flower

·        1 part nettle leaf

·        1 part mint

·        1 part rose petals

·        1 part anise seeds

Steeping

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

Taste: bold, fresh, and aromatic

Herbal action: nutritive

Systems affected: nervous, cardiovascular, general tonic

Summer Sol

The long-expanding energy of spring has fully stretched out. As summer officially arrives, the days get hotter, but the sun slowly starts to move back toward the equator, signaling plants to spend more energy producing flowers, fruits, and seeds. Summer Sol tea is a celebration of the sun.

Ingredients

·        1 part Douglas fir tips (cedar or spruce tips work, too)

·        1 part rose hips

·        1 part tulsi

·        0.75 part hibiscus

·        0.5 part calendula flowers

Steeping

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

Taste: tangy, with sour hibiscus and rose hips making a refreshing base for aromatic tulsi and fir tips

Herbal action: hydrating

Systems affected: general tonic

Sun Tea

The combination of fresh, seasonal fruits, herbs, and sunshine often makes a bright, complex summer thirst-quencher. For sun tea, you can use fresh or dried herbs. All you do is combine the herbs and water in a mason jar and leave it in a warm, sunny place for a few hours. Once you make your sun tea, you can stick it in the fridge for iced tea or drink it as a warm infusion. Because I sweat a lot more in the summer, I like to make a strong sun tea with mineral- and vitamin-rich herbs and fruits and add a cup or two to my water bottle every time I fill it up. This way, I’m continually recharging my body.

For most people, sun teas are not formulaic but improvised. I use whatever fruits I have on hand and then add a few nutritive herbs that support how I am feeling in the moment. If I am stressed out, I consider adding lemonbalm, rose petals, or chamomile. If I have a lot of physical work to do, I might add nettles, raspberry leaf, and maybe some eleuthero. For a digestive sun tea, add freshly grated ginger, mint, and fennel. Just listen to your body and try not to overthink your blend. Keep it simple and delicious — it is supposed to be loose and fun, after all.

Note: Adding any kind of sugar during the extraction process can cause unwanted bacterial growth if you leave the tea out in the sun too long. It’s best to add honey or other sweeteners after you’ve brewed your tea (and before refrigerating it).

Berry Sun Tea

Sweet, tangy flavors are characteristic of summer as they quench thirst and provide essential nourishment. Berry Sun Tea is a delicious way to combine fresh herbs and fruits with dried hibiscus. This playful blend makes a great addition to a quick lunch or afternoon snack. You can start the tea in the morning and have it ready to go by midday. The subtle, delicate flavors you’ll achieve by using fresh ingredients are ephemeral and inspiring.

Ingredients

·        2 cups fresh berries

·        1 handful of fresh mint leaves

·        1 ounce dried hibiscus

·        1 lemon, sliced

Steeping

Combine all ingredients with 2 quarts water in a lidded jar. Place it in the sun for 1 to 3 hours and shake vigorously any time you walk by. Strain, and add a little local honey for sweetness if desired. Add ice for iced tea.

Taste: refreshing blend of sweet berries, tart hibiscus, aromatic mint, and bright lemon

Herbal actions: cooling, hydrating, refreshing

System affected: cardiovascular

Summer Breeze Sun Tea

Fun to make, this is a delicious, bright, lightly spicy tea to quench thirst and cool you down on a hot summer day.

Ingredients

·        1 handful of fresh mint, chopped

·        1 ⁄2 lemon, sliced

·        1 ⁄4 ounce hibiscus

·        1 ( 1 ⁄2 - inch) piece fresh ginger, grated

·        1 sprig fresh rosemary

Steeping

Combine all ingredients with 4 cups water in a lidded jar. Place it in the sun for 1 to 3 hours and shake vigorously any time you walk by. Strain, add about a tablespoon of honey, and enjoy with ice, or refrigerate.

Taste: sweet, sour, spicy, and fruity

Herbal actions: uplifting, strengthening, refreshing, digestive

Systems affected: cardiovascular, digestive

Nutritive Sun Tea

Our bodies require extra nutrients during the summer as we are more active and quick to perspire. Offering these nutrients to your cells as you keep yourself hydrated continually feeds your skin, muscles, and energy reserves. This tea uses five herbs that are quite easy to grow in a small herb garden in your backyard. You can make this tea using fresh or dried herbs.

Ingredients

·        1 part nettle leaf

·        1 part fresh or dried raspberry leaf

·        1 part fresh or dried mint

·        0.5 part rose petals

·        0.5 part fresh or dried lemonbalm

Steeping

Combine 2 to 3 tablespoons tea and 4 cups water in a lidded jar. Place it in the sun for 1 to 3 hours and shake vigorously any time you walk by. Strain and enjoy with ice, or place in refrigerator for an hour before drinking.

Taste: light, with slight earthy, minty, floral, and citrus tones

Herbal action: nutritive

Systems affected: general tonic

Iced Teas and Cold Infusions

Traditional iced teas are made by refrigerating a hot steeped tea. You are able to get a full extraction of dense or highly aromatic herbs through this method. Another option, which I almost exclusively prefer, is to make a cold infusion (or cold brew) by combining tea and cold water in a lidded jar and keeping it in a cool spot. I usually just keep them in the fridge so that I have a really cold tea ready for me when I am thirsty.

Cold infusions are a great way to get the most out of our precious nutritive herbs and fruits. Cold water extracts a different spectrum of phytochemicals than hot water. By extracting in cold water, none of the temperature-sensitive vitamins and minerals are lost. You will notice a difference in flavor between hot infusions cooled into iced teas and cold infusions. Cold infusions are basically raw herbal teas. Sun tea and cold extractions achieve similar results, but cold infusions last a lot longer in the fridge and have a more delicate and complex flavor.

Simple, cold-brewed black or green teas are delicious, and there are lots of creative possibilities for zesting them up. Garble (see here ) fresh fruits and herbs in your cold brew tea for a delicious, refreshing drink.

Mint Green Tea

Using fresh mint in this tea is ideal. Fresh mint has such a strong, intoxicating fragrance and mouthfeel that it is worthy of sharing water with sweet-scented jasmine green tea. You can also add a little fresh lime zest and juice for a brighter, even more refreshing tea.

Ingredients

·        1 part jasmine green tea

·        1 part fresh or dried peppermint

·        Lime juice and lime zest (optional)

Steeping

Combine 2 tablespoons tea and 4 cups water in a lidded jar (along with a splash of lime juice and a little lime zest, if you like). Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Taste: delicate, sweet, perfumy notes of jasmine, and refreshing peppermint

Herbal actions: hydrating, uplifting, energizing

System affected: nervous

Lemon Ginger Iced Tea

A perfect summer treat, this tea makes a great midday pick-me-up. You can make your own lemonade using fresh lemons and honey or buy a jug of lemonade for this blend. When you cold brew black tea it tastes smooth and slightly sweet because the bitterness of black tea does not get extracted in cold water.

Ingredients

·        1 cup lemonade

·        1 ⁄2 cup water

·        2 teaspoons black tea

·        1 ( 1 ⁄2 -inch) piece fresh ginger, grated

Steeping

Combine all ingredients in a lidded jar. Place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. I often leave it in the refrigerator overnight for a strong black tea infusion.

Taste: malty black tea paired perfectly with tart lemon and spicy ginger

Herbal actions: energizing, refreshing, hydrating

Systems affected: nervous, digestive, general tonic

Apple Green Iced Tea

Sweet iced drinks continue to be extremely popular during summer, despite how much processed sugar they contain. However, low-sugar iced teas sweetened with fruit juice are delicious. I often make this Apple Green Iced Tea when I have special lunch and dinner events in the summer.

When formulating sweet teas, it is nice to balance the sweetness of the juice with a bit of spice, tartness, and bitterness. Ideally, you will strive for a complex taste. This blend is a simple way to make “sweet” iced tea with an added bite from fresh ginger.

Ingredients

·        1 cup water

·        1 ⁄2 cup apple juice

·        2 tablespoons unsweetened cranberry juice

·        1 handful of fresh mint, minced

·        2 teaspoons green tea

·        1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

·        Zest of 1 ⁄2 lemon

Steeping

Combine all ingredients in a lidded jar. Refrigerate overnight. Strain and drink.

Taste: sweet, spicy, sour, citrusy

Herbal actions: refreshing, hydrating, cooling

Systems affected: nervous, general tonic

Sol MatÉ

Served hot or cold, Sol Maté integrates the vibrant tastes of summer for an incredible caffeinated tea. With a perfect balance of earthy, mint, fruit, citrus, and floral, this blend is really all about teasing your taste buds.

I have a strong affinity for the taste and aroma of this tea. From the moment you smell the mingling of the dried herbs to when the last sips are barely warm in the cup, there is so much subtlety at play. I get swept away by the sweet, floral fragrance of osmanthus, which loosely tangles with the mint and lemongrass. This tea is also distinctly herbaceous, which is typical of yerba maté and grounds the flavor. Elderberry adds a perfect amount of tart fruitiness, while the linden is slightly sweet. The linden and peppermint help balance the strong stimulating effect of the maté. I usually try to balance strongly stimulating teas with herbs that nourish and protect the nervous system.

I often like to stick my nose over a cup of Sol Maté and take really deep breaths until I feel sufficiently energized. As the tea cools, a menagerie of changing flavors captivates the palate.

Ingredients

·        1 part yerba maté

·        0.5 part lemongrass

·        0.5 part peppermint

·        0.5 part osmanthus flowers

·        0.5 part elderberry

·        0.25 part linden

·        0.25 part yerba santa

Steeping

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

Cold infusion: Combine 2 tablespoons tea and 4 cups water in a lidded jar. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Shake, strain, enjoy. You can add a touch of honey if you like a sweeter tea.

Taste: a heady combination of sweet linden, elderberry, and osmanthus, rounded out by the rich aromatics of mint, lemongrass, and yerba maté, which linger on the palate

Herbal actions: energizing, refreshing, nutritive

System affected: nervous

Summer Goddess

Summer Goddess is a bright, nutritive, tangy tea. This blend can be made into a sun tea or cold infusion. I added chrysanthemum to this blend because it aids in clearing heat, especially in the liver. This blend is full of vitamins and minerals, cools the body, and helps the body manage stress.

Ingredients

·        1 part tulsi

·        0.5 part mint

·        0.5 part hibiscus

·        0.5 part raspberry leaf

·        0.5 part fennel

·        0.25 part chrysanthemum

Steeping

Combine 3 tablespoons tea and 4 cups water in a lidded jar. Place it in a warm, sunny place for 1 to 3 hours. Shake vigorously. Strain and enjoy with ice, or refrigerate.

Taste: bittersweet with a touch of sour, balanced by mints and fennel

Herbal actions: adaptogenic, nutritive, liver supportive, cooling

Systems affected: cardiovascular, nervous

Sweating Is Good!

One of the best things about summer heat is sweating. Spicy foods and drinks induce sweating, which dramatically cools you down. Cleansing and refreshing, sweating releases metabolic wastes from the body and stimulates thirst. The cycle of drinking nourishing iced teas and sweating is one of my favorite parts of summer. It is easy to loathe heat and sweating, but just think about how replenished you become when you consistently hydrate yourself. I somehow manage to feel incredibly clean in the heat of the summer because I am drinking so much clean water and consuming healthy fresh herbs and fruits all day long. It’s wonderful!

Serenity

Serenity encourages a state of tranquility. With lots of vitamins, minerals, and uplifting aromatics, it will help restore and reset your mind and body during the summer months.

Ingredients

·        4 parts milky oat tops

·        1.5 parts elderberry

·        1 part hawthorn leaf and flower

·        1 part linden leaf and flower

·        1 part fennel

·        1 part cinnamon

·        1 part lemongrass

·        0.25 part osmanthus flowers

Steeping

Combine 2 tablespoons tea and 4 cups water in a lidded jar. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Shake, strain, and enjoy.

Taste: well-balanced, with notes of grassy, citrus, berries, floral, grains

Herbal actions: nutritive, heart tonic, refreshing, uplifting

Systems affected: cardiovascular, nervous, musculoskeletal

Coconut Green

Toasted coconut adds a nice nutty character to an otherwise subtle green tea. Coconut is grown where summer never ceases. Away from the equator, it perfectly complements the summer season. Green tea is high in flavonoids (antioxidant plant-derived compounds) and is the best nutritional source of catechins, a group of flavonoids that preliminary research has shown to have a number of disease-fighting properties, including more potency than vitamin C or E in limiting oxidative damage to cells. Additional benefits of regularly drinking green tea include reduced blood pressure and reduced risk of heart disease.

Because it is picked early in the growing season and carefully processed to limit oxidation, Dao Ren has significantly more antioxidants than more mature green teas. It comes exclusively from the famous Dao Ren Peak in the Zhejiang Province of China and is named for the Dao (taoist) priests who meditated on the mountain in ancient times. This tea was carefully cultivated for the priests themselves, but now it is shared with the world. Picked at the height of spring, Dao Ren is lightly fermented, just enough to capture both a floral and tannin character. It is a delight for both the tea connoisseur and the novice.

Ingredients

·        1 part Dao Ren green tea or other green tea of choice

·        0.5 part toasted coconut

Steeping

Hot infusion: Pour 1.5 cups hot water over 1 tablespoon tea. Steep for 2 minutes. Strain immediately. Re-steep two or three more times for 1 to 2 minutes.

Cold infusion: Combine 2 tablespoons tea and 3 cups cold water in a lidded jar. Shake. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Strain and enjoy. You can add a little lime zest and sugar for a truly delicious tea.

Taste: light, floral green tea with toasted coconut

Herbal action: energizing

System affected: nervous

Seasonal Work

Years of observing and cultivating a relationship with the seasonal shifts of my home has transformed how I see my circumstances. I have allowed myself to let go of a tremendous amount of self-judgment and fear associated with my fluctuating work ethic, interests, and mood. For example, I know that during the heat of the summer, I start to feel drained and exhausted. I have trouble focusing and get down on myself for not being as productive as I would like. Depression rises out of the discord between how I feel and what I think I should be doing. On those hot summer days, when I have 10 or 12 hours of farmwork to do and my body is begging me to relax, I need to step back and listen.

I have learned to manage my work and emotions based on the cyclical patterns I experience each season. In the short term, I may not be as productive as other people in my profession, but I also have a feeling that I will be able to continue to do good work for many more decades if I pace myself and treat myself with the respect I deserve. During the summer, I give myself more breathing room to spend time engaging directly with nature and work on projects at the pace at which my body feels comfortable. I try to evaluate which projects are worth working on when I feel drained and try to prioritize projects that make me feel good and balanced. Summer is really a time to cherish quality time with family and friends and slow down to experience the excitement of the natural world around you.

Working with the seasons makes me feel like I am functioning as part of a connected, intuitive system. It feels healthy to be in a direct conversation with the place that I live. The work I do takes on more meaning when I know that I am supporting a larger complex ecological system and, in turn, that system supports me.

Chillaxin

Chillaxin is a fun blend that I pretty much only make in the summer. In Hawaii and throughout Polynesia, where kava is from, kava is exclusively extracted in cool water. I think it is important to honor the way a medicinal herb has been used in the places where it is native, so I always extract kava by leaving it in cold water in the refrigerator. Kava root is a really good therapy for tense skeletal muscles. If you hold anxiety in your muscles, kava can help loosen you up.

Kava has a taste and mouthfeel that can be uncomfortable for some drinkers. Basically, it slightly numbs the tongue and lips, though the sensation lasts for only a few minutes after drinking a cup.

The kava in Chillaxin is blended with other herbs to dilute the flavor and sensation and provide a mellow kava experience. Lemongrass, when steeped in cool water, tastes almost sweet and floral. Oats are highly nourishing to the nervous system and support relaxation. For the dried berries, I prefer a mixture of rose hips and blackberries, which provide extra vitamins, a little sweetness, and a tartness that balances the blend.

Ingredients

·        1 part kava root

·        1 part lemongrass

·        1 part milky oat tops

·        1 part dried berries of choice

·        0.75 part dried or grated fresh ginger

·        0.25 part licorice root

·        0.25 part rosemary

Steeping

Combine 2 tablespoons tea and 3 cups cold water in a lidded jar. Shake. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, shaking whenever you think about it. Strain and enjoy any time after 4 hours. I usually just leave this tea in the refrigerator overnight for a full extraction.

Taste: sweet, fruity, citrus, earthy

Herbal action: calming

Systems affected: musculoskeletal, nervous

Note: Kava is not recommended for use during pregnancy or nursing, or if you have acute liver disease.

Herb Spotlight

Kava

Kava is a native root to Polynesia. Pacific Islanders have been using kava for centuries. The root is typically harvested and used fresh in a cold infusion. Traditional cups of kava resemble muddy water that quickly numb the tissues in your mouth. The aerial portions of the plant are toxic. Kava has a bad reputation on the Internet due to lack of education and awareness about the plant. Though Pacific Islanders never use any of the aerial parts of the plant for medicine, only the root, many studies done on kava have been done with the whole plant.

I have heard stories of people in Hawaii and Polynesia excessively indulging in cups of strong kava — over 20 cups in an evening — so that their muscles become so relaxed they can hardly walk or talk. However, small amounts of kava can be great for calming anxious and tense muscles without diminishing cognition.

Drinking straight kava at a kava bar is like drinking mouth-numbing mud. It doesn’t taste great, but it has been used for many centuries throughout the Pacific Islands for relaxation.

Cucumber-Jalapeño Breeze

This refreshing, spicy tea provides a fun way to use herbs and spices that you can easily grow in a summer garden. The classic Mexican blend of citrus, cilantro, and spicy peppers is combined with green tea for energy, chopped cucumber to cool inflamed tissues, fresh mint for a refreshing accent, and honey to sweeten the deal. It’s one of the best drinks on a hot day, ever!

Ingredients

·        1 teaspoon green tea

·        1 medium cucumber, chopped

·        1 sliced lime

·        1 ⁄4 jalapeño, sliced

·        A few sprigs cilantro

·        A few sprigs fresh mint

·        1 tablespoon honey

Steeping

Combine all ingredients and 4 cups cold water in a lidded jar. Refrigerate overnight.

Taste: a dazzling palate pleaser — fresh jalapeño, cucumber, lime, and cilantro pair beautifully with a grassy green tea

Herbal actions: hydrating, cooling

System affected: cardiovascular

Nervine Cold Brew

When the heat of summer begins to fray the edges of your nerves, try this delicious cold brew. I often have trouble sleeping in hot weather — my body feels restless and annoyed when I lie down for bed. If I prepare a liter or two of Nervine Cold Brew early in the day, it will be ready to drink by bedtime. Each of the herbs in this blend are cooling and refreshing to your nervous system, allowing for quiet relaxation at bedtime.

Ingredients

·        1 part raspberry leaf

·        1 part nettle leaf

·        1 part mint

·        0.5 part skullcap

·        0.5 part rose petals

·        0.5 part chamomile

Steeping

Combine 2 tablespoons tea and 3 cups water in a lidded jar. Place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Taste: a base of leafy, herbaceous-tasting herbs, paired with the showy aromatic experience of rose, chamomile, and mint

Herbal actions: nutritive, calming

Systems affected: general tissues, nervous

Summer Chill

Summer Chill has a deep summer vibe. Tangy hibiscus and lemongrass give the blend a slightly tropical taste, complemented by sweet linden, Ceylon cinnamon, and dried berries. As an herbal iced tea, it doesn’t really get any better than this. This tea will help you feel hydrated and refreshed on a hot summer day and is delicious hot or cold.

Ingredients

·        3 parts hibiscus

·        2 parts lemongrass

·        2 parts dried berries

·        1 part linden

·        1 part Ceylon cinnamon

Steeping

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

Iced tea: Pour 1.5 cups hot water over 1 tablespoon tea. Steep for 4 to 8 minutes, then chill.

Cold infusion: Combine 2 tablespoons tea and 3 cups water in a lidded jar. Place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Taste: sweet-and-sour herbs and berries accented by aromatic cinnamon and lemongrass

Herbal actions: hydrating, cooling

Systems affected: general tonic

Revive

Summer can be brutal with piercing sun and heat, and it’s nice to have a refreshing minty tea that will get you rehydrated and back into a cooler state of mind. Revive is both decadent and thirst quenching. Mints are great for cooling us off in the summer, especially when they are made into iced teas. This one is ever so slightly sweet to satisfy your sweet tooth. If you live in a really dry ­climate, consider adding moistening herbs such as fennel and marshmallow root.

Make this tea as a hot or cold infusion and store it in the fridge.

Ingredients

·        2 parts honeybush

·        1 part spearmint

·        1 part peppermint

·        1 part fennel or 0.5 part marshmallow root (optional)

·        1 vanilla bean per pound of blended tea

·        0.25 part lemon zest or juice plus zest of 1 small fresh lemon per cup

Steeping

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

Cold infusion: Combine 2 tablespoons tea and 3 cups water in a lidded jar. Place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Taste: soothing cool mints, fresh lemon, and sweet, tangy honeybush, with uplifting addition vanilla

Herbal actions: hydrating, cooling

Systems affected: general tonic

Shiso Iced Tea

Shiso Iced Tea is absolutely marvelous and to most people tastes exotic and spicy, like basil and anise in one. Shiso is easy to grow in a summer garden, which is ideal since it is hard to source as a dried herb. It is a stunning herb that comes in several types: purple, green, and variegated. (I prefer the taste and look of the variegated type.) It has a refreshing anise flavor that complements the malty Assam tea and cooling mint. This tea can be made hot or as a cold infusion and stored in the fridge.

Ingredients

·        2.5 parts Assam tea

·        1 part shiso (dried or fresh)

·        0.75 part mint

·        0.25 part licorice root

·        1 drop lemon essential oil or pinch of fresh lemon zest per cup

Steeping

Hot infusion: Pour 1.5 cups hot water over 1 tablespoon tea. Steep for 4 to 8 minutes. Add the lemon oil or zest.

Cold infusion: Combine 2 tablespoons tea, 4 cups water, and lemon oil or zest in a lidded jar. Place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Taste: slightly sweet and malty, with an aniselike flavor, aromatic mint, and a pop of fresh, revitalizing citrus

Herbal actions: energizing, refreshing

Systems affected: nervous, digestive, immune

Black Beauty

Mint and rose do not instinctively pair well together, as their fragrances compete for your attention. But in small amounts, rose beautifully accents the grassy flavor of mint and mellows its sharpness. I make a lot of teas with both rose and mint because they surprise your senses in a fun and enjoyable way. Typically, rose is combined with spices such as cardamom and cinnamon, but do not be afraid to use rose to subtly enhance or draw out the perfumy qualities in other herbs. In the fall, Black Beauty also makes a great hot tea.

Ingredients

·        1 part black tea

·        1 part fresh or dried mint

·        0.5 part rose petals

Steeping

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

Cold infusion: Combine 2 tablespoons tea and 4 cups water in a lidded jar. Place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Taste: a base of malty black tea, with sweet mints and floral rose

Herbal actions: energizing, uplifting

System affected: nervous

Iced Chai

Variations on iced chai are really fun and delicious in summer. All types of black tea will work, but I strongly recommend formosa black tea from Taiwan if you have access to it. Formosa black teas are known for being smooth, perfumy, and a little fruity. Fresh ginger adds a bright, almost citrusy freshness, but you can reduce the amount of ginger if you do not want the tea to make you sweat. As an iced tea, this blend is soothing and sweet, almost like dessert.

Ingredients

·        3 parts grated fresh ginger

·        1 part fennel

·        1 part cinnamon

·        0.5 part cardamom

·        0.25 part nutmeg

·        0.25 part licorice root

·        Honey or sugar

·        Black tea

To Make the Concentrate

Combine 5 cups water and 1 ⁄4 cup spice blend in a lidded saucepan. Simmer over low heat for a minimum of 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and add 2 tablespoons honey or sugar. Cool the concentrate in an ice bath or in the refrigerator. Once cool, add 4 tablespoons black tea and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

To Make a cup of iced chai

Combine 1 cup strained chai concentrate and 1 ⁄4 cup milk. Pour over ice.

Taste: sweet and spicy

Herbal actions: energizing, immune boosting

Systems affected: general tonic

Iced Choco-Chai

This beautiful tea is simple yet complex. Roasted cacao chaff along with a mellow combination of spices creates an energizing, comforting, and palate-pleasing cold infusion. Try it as a sweet treat after a meal!

Ingredients

·        3 parts ginger

·        2.5 parts cinnamon

·        2.5 parts fennel

·        2.5 parts cardamom

·        2 parts roasted cacao skins (chaff)

·        2 parts black tea (optional)

·        1.5 parts chaga mushrooms

·        0.5 part black pepper

Steeping

Combine 2 tablespoons tea and 4 cups water in a lidded jar. For extra sweetness, add a teaspoon of honey. Place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Taste: smooth roasted cacao chaff combined with a bouquet of sweet and spicy

Herbal actions: energizing, immune supportive, digestive

Systems affected: nervous, digestive, immune

Fall

As the last sultry breaths of summer give way to the cool, chilly whispers of fall, our focus, energy, and intentions slowly shift inward. Perhaps you feel relief as you sense a moist chill in the air after a hot, dry summer. Crisp, cold mornings force muscle contractions and add a little speed to your glide as you use your own energy reserves to stay warm.

Organizing the gardening tools, harvesting fall crops, preserving foods, and collecting seeds for next year are all part of our final goodbye to the growing season. I love fall because it offers us the breathing room to tidy up our external world, celebrate and show our gratitude for a successful harvest season, and transition into a period of rest and restoration. After spending a whole summer exploring the world around you, fall symbolizes a coming home, a return of focus to your inner self and your community. Take advantage of the energy of fall to help you assess where you are in your life and establish or reaffirm healthy values and relationships.

Once fall hits and the weather begins to change, we really start to notice the short days and can often feel constricted. This is totally normal and an important part of sensing the world around you. As a result, we are more inclined to seek out familial closeness as our mood becomes more fragile. We band together as the days get darker and colder to share stories, song, and food with our loved ones. Being part of a supportive community helps mediate the introspective work you will do during fall and winter.

Because temperamental fall weather can catch you off guard, make sure you wear layers and listen to your body. Cold and flu season start as early as October. The best way to stay healthy and take care of yourself is to use nutrition and herbal teas to provide your cells with the basic nutrients you need to stay in balance physically and emotionally. As summer’s energy wanes, try to support digestion and metabolism by cooking with aromatic spices and seeking out local fall crops like collard greens, carrots, beets, kale, broccoli, apples, nuts, and seeds to keep fresh, vibrant foods in your diet.

In fall, I tend to focus on herbal tea blends that promote healthy thoughts and immunity. Brain tonics, nervines, and immune teas, many of which you’ll find in chapter 3 , are the most important types of teas I drink during the fall. I tend to promote lots of brain tonics during fall because most people either go back to school, have kids who are going back to school, or have to establish renewed focus on their indoor work after summer vacations and reduced productivity at work.

The natural rhythms and cycles of the fall season tend to promote rest and sleep. Unfortunately, most of us cannot strictly devote our bodies to the restorative energetics of fall. So many of the teas in this section are formulated to keep you healthy and happy even as it gets harder and harder to stay focused and energized as darkness bookends short days. Green tea, tulsi, gotu kola, rosemary, and ginseng are important herbs for the mind during fall. Black teas and oolong teas can help increase energy and improve digestion. Deeper flavors with a spicy component are important during both fall and winter. Spices are warming and improve digestion and immunity.

Now that the outward energy of spring and summer are behind us, fall is a time to become more intimately familiar with the flavors, fragrances, and medicinal characteristics of dried and preserved herbs. As our bodies experience greater stress, we should lean on herbs and spices to help create a bright, healthy inner life. The rich foods and teas of fall and winter are nutritionally dense with complex flavors for increasing energy and enjoyment of food and drink. As temperatures drop and we spend more time indoors, we need these savory spices and herbs to help insulate and stoke the fire within.

General Fall Tonic

Better get a jump on strengthening your immunity before cold and flu season. This tea is a daily tonic for your immune system but also provides a little liver and kidney support. As our metabolism slows down during fall and winter, it is a great idea to drink a daily immune tonic. I prefer general wellness tonics such as this one because they quickly and quietly restore subtle imbalances as they come up. I drink more specific immune-support teas only when I feel like I am really coming down with something.

Reishi and chaga, in addition to being anti-inflammatory, adaptogenic, and providing immune support, are very grounding. Astragalus is a great root to have in your daily life because it supports the body’s general resistance to stress and disease and helps strengthen immunity. Dandelion and burdock support the liver and kidneys, which are the primary organs of toxin elimination. The spices in this blend provide digestive support, flavor, and resistance to infection.

Ingredients

·        3 parts reishi mushrooms

·        3 parts dandelion root

·        3 parts burdock root

·        3 parts fennel

·        1.5 parts ginger

·        1 part chaga mushrooms

·        1 part cinnamon

·        1 part astragalus

·        1 part clove

Steeping

Combine 3 tablespoons tea and 4 cups water in a lidded saucepan. Slowly bring to a simmer. Simmer for at least 30 minutes.

Taste: smooth, light taste and fragrance

Herbal actions: tonic, adaptogenic, digestive, immune supporting

Systems affected: general tonic for multiple organ systems

The Fall (Fall Repose)

The Fall is a soothing blend designed to help restore and build energy reserves from the inside out. Chaga, astragalus, and reishi are gentle adaptogen herbs that help relieve stress, support the immune system, and slowly build up energy reserves. Roasted barley adds a satisfying and comforting sweet roasted flavor. Barley tea is beloved in Asia and is often drunk in the afternoon and evenings with meals. (If you are sensitive to gluten, try using kukicha twig tea or roasted buckwheat instead of roasted barley.) Aromatic spices add a warming quality to the tea and enrich the overall flavor.

Ingredients

·        3 parts roasted barley

·        1 part chaga mushrooms

·        1 part astragalus

·        1 part reishi mushrooms

·        0.5 part cinnamon

·        0.5 part star anise

·        0.5 part burdock root

Steeping

Combine 3 tablespoons tea and 4 cups water in a lidded saucepan. Slowly bring to a low simmer and continue to simmer for at least 10 minutes.

Taste: roasted grain base with sweet herbs and spices

Herbal actions: adaptogenic, immune supporting

Systems affected: nervous, immune

Roasting Your Own Barley

When I first started making The Fall, I was constantly trying to find Korean or Chinese organic roasted barley tea in bulk but without a lot of success, and the organic barley teas I did find were excruciatingly expensive. So I started making my own using store-bought organic barley. It’s a tiny fraction of the price — and really easy. Just spread the barley on a sheet pan and roast at 350°F (180°C) for about 25 minutes. You will know it is done when you start to smell the rich, roasted fragrance and the barley grains turn a few shades darker in color.

Mulling Spices

Mulling spices create a comforting aromatic blend that you can simmer in apple cider, hard cider, or wine, adding complexity and immune-boosting properties to some of our favorite cozy beverages during fall and winter. They are especially popular to serve at holiday parties and gatherings.

Serving hot cups of spiced hard cider and mulled wine has been part of community celebrations in Northern Europe for centuries. People rarely need an excuse to gather around cups of hot, spicy libations, as they bring people together during the dark, cold months of the year.

The volatile essential oils in cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and cardamom are antimicrobial, which partly accounts for their aid in combating colds and flus. They also help build internal heat and support healthy digestion. In late fall and winter, when a diversity of fresh foods becomes limited, mulling spices infused into hot cider or wine help keep the body healthy.

This recipe will spice 6 to 8 cups of cider or wine. Add fresh ginger and orange slices for more spice and tang. For dry wines and hard cider, you’ll probably want to add honey as well.

Ingredients

·        2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

·        2 teaspoons cinnamon

·        2 teaspoons anise seeds or star anise

·        1 teaspoon whole or slightly crushed clove

·        1 teaspoon cardamom

·        1 teaspoon orange zest or zest from 1 fresh medium orange

·        1 teaspoon astragalus

·        1 teaspoon rose hips

·        1 ⁄2 crushed or zested seed of nutmeg

·        1 ⁄4 vanilla bean or 1 ⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mulling Instructions

Combine 6 to 8 cups cold cider or wine and spices in a lidded saucepan. Slowly heat until steaming, but do not boil. Let the herbs extract in the liquid for 20 minutes. Keep it on the stove on the lowest setting so that it can be served hot, and strain the liquid as you pour each cup. Taste the cider before serving. If using wine or hard cider, add 1 teaspoon honey to each cup before serving.

Taste: comforting scents and flavors of cinnamon, cardamom, and clove, accented by citrus and real vanilla bean

Herbal actions: digestive, immune boosting

Systems affected: digestive, immune

Peace Tea

This tea promotes calm at the end of a busy fall day, bringing peace and homeostasis back to your nervous system. This blend is a little cooling, so if you already feel deeply chilled, add extra fresh ginger.

Nettle is extremely nutritious, and catnip and skullcap calm the nerves but also have a lot of vitamins and minerals. You might not notice their effects after just one dose, but if you become good friends with them, they will hold your hand through the good and bad times. I find skullcap to be an excellent remedy for racing thoughts, helping me quiet my mind so I can sleep or focus on the present moment. It can also break addictions and relieve nervous tension (especially tension arising from obsessive thoughts). Catnip is calming like mint but has more pronounced relaxing properties, making it common in insomnia blends.

Rose petals and hips together add uplifting floral and fruity tones. Rose hips are high in vitamin C and have pronounced anti-inflammatory properties. Hibiscus is tangy and helps reduce blood pressure. Chamomile can help relieve mental tension, irritability, and headaches caused by the heat of anger or frustration.

Ingredients

·        1 part skullcap

·        1 part catnip

·        1 part nettle leaf

·        1 part raspberry leaf

·        1 part rose petals

·        0.5 part chamomile

·        0.5 part rose hips

·        0.5 part hibiscus

·        1 vanilla bean per pound of blended tea

·        Small piece of fresh ginger, grated, per cup

Steeping

Hot infusion: Pour 1.5 cups hot water over 1 tablespoon tea. Steep for 8 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: grassy with floral and sweet tangy notes

Herbal actions: relaxing, nutritive

Systems affected: nervous, general tissues

Brain Tonic

Brain Tonic will lift your spirits, increase energy and immunity, and keep you motivated to make it through the cool, dark days of late fall. This daily tea strengthens your resolve to appreciate where you are in your life and make the most of what nature throws at you, especially as fall rains and winds return.

Strong, spicy herbs, such as cardamom and cinnamon, are essential for keeping your body upbeat, invigorated, and motivated to be a joyful presence in the world. Drinking spicy teas helps the body tackle viruses that threaten to overcome us during fall and winter. They also play positive roles in digestion. Eleuthero is an adaptogenic herb that I like in fall because it helps increase my stamina at a time when I feel tired and sluggish. Gotu kola is a tremendous memory-supporting herb. Rosemary is warming and traditionally considered important for memory. Peppery tulsi supports memory and focus but also aids in stress management, immunity, and digestion. Mint is incorporated into the blend for its balancing properties.

Ingredients

·        3 parts tulsi

·        2 parts mint

·        1 part eleuthero (Siberian ginseng)

·        1 part gotu kola

·        1 part rosemary

·        1 part cardamom

·        1 part cinnamon

Steeping

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

Taste: highlights of aromatic spices, mint, and rosemary

Herbal action: brain tonic

System affected: nervous

Golden Garden

As the days get shorter, it’s nice to have a few delicious caffeinated tea blends to help wake up your mind while you are working. The best way to drink Golden Garden is in hot or steamed milk with a touch of honey. Creamy milk tends to mute the bitter taste of lavender on the tongue and enhances the sweetness of cardamom. Vanilla bean and cardamom complement the malty tones in the black tea while the lavender adds a lovely floral contrast.

A smooth black or cooked puerh tea that is malty without much bitterness is ideal for this blend. These characteristics pair well with crushed cardamom pods and lavender blossoms. If you choose to use a cooked puerh (called “red” tea because it is fermented to a point between green and black tea), try to find one that is a little aged. Puerh teas are often aged for decades, and the older cooked puerh teas often have a stronger developed flavor without the bitterness of black teas.

Ingredients

·        4 parts black tea

·        1 part cardamom

·        1 part lavender blossoms

·        1 vanilla bean per pound of blended tea

Steeping

Pour 1.5 cups hot milk over 1 tablespoon tea. Steep for 4 to 6 minutes. Strain. Add 1 teaspoon honey.

Taste: malty black tea enhanced by spicy cardamom, floral lavender, and uplifting vanilla bean

Herbal actions: energizing, uplifting, digestive

Systems affected: nervous, digestive

A Cautionary Tale

Before I really knew what herbalism was, I lived with two friends in a house that had no electricity or insulation. It was cold, dark, and damp almost every day from October through March, but the space was bright with love and companionship, with candlelight and a big friendly dog.

Having been a cook for a couple of years, I started experimenting with the level of spices in the foods that I ate and primarily strived to control the intensity of aromatic flavors just enough to warm my body without making me too sweaty. My hope was that I could use spices and herbs to keep my body consistently warm.

I distinctly remember the day my roommate Beatrix came home with a recipe for warming peanut butter balls. They had rhodiola, roasted peanut butter, cacao nibs, sesame oil, honey, cinnamon, and ginger as their primary ingredients. They were the energetic equivalent of the sun itself.

We started making many iterations of these little sun replacements sometime in late fall. I was going along pretty well, happy to have warm fingers and toes each day, when I realized after about six weeks of eating these rhodiola balls that I was developing pretty intense rosacea. My skin appeared flushed and felt hot all the time. My face basically looked sunburnt in the middle of a particularly cold, wet Pacific Northwest winter. I also felt anxious and overstimulated. The combination of rhodiola with aromatic spices was stoking my inner hearth far too dramatically. Up to that point I hadn’t realized how drastically basic herbs and spices could alter a person’s homeostasis. I had to spend several weeks tuning down the rhodiola balls and spent a lot more time outside exercising, which helped clear some of the heat.

As a result of this experience, I developed a much deeper respect for herbs and spices and how they influence my body. I also realized I needed to live in an environment that was more supportive to my physical needs. Relying exclusively on herbs and spices to mediate the stress of living conditions created unexpected imbalances. Maintaining health is really about knowing your natural boundaries and comfort zones and being able to make informed choices about your living environment. We do not often get to choose our socioeconomic starting place in life, but we can all learn to create personal and social habits that become strong supportive sanctuaries. Herbs and herbal teas are just one aspect of building a living sanctuary for yourself.

Kukicha Gold

This tea feels like a hearth. Delicately roasted kukicha twig tea is enveloped in a warming blend of aromatic spices to encourage a fierce, warm core. I love this tea in fall when the angle of the sun pierces my eyes but its heat hardly penetrates my skin. As the sun moves farther away, we begin to rely on our own movement and warming aromatic herbs, like clove and cinnamon, to maintain a sense of comfort and warmth.

No “natural flavorings” are used in this orange-spice blend, so your body receives the full therapeutic benefits of the herbs themselves. Cinnamon, clove, orange peel, cardamom, and allspice have important aromatic essential oils that are warming and antimicrobial. Drinking Kukicha Gold is a delicious and audacious way to feel invigorated and protect your body from infections.

Ingredients

·        10 parts kukicha twig tea

·        5 parts cinnamon

·        3 parts orange peel

·        3 parts codonopsis

·        3 parts cardamom

·        2 parts clove

·        1 part allspice

·        1 part licorice root

Steeping

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

Taste: roasted base with accents of orange spice

Herbal actions: digestive, warming

Systems affected: digestive, circulatory

Delight

Delight tea is a great homage to the memory of spring and summer. This tea reminds us that even as the weather changes and the outside world suddenly seems dull, we were smart, thought ahead, and preserved these herbs to brighten our mood and outlook in fall and winter. It is a mélange of summer past on a base of rich, roasted cacao skins that plants us squarely in the present. Imagine roots descending from your feet and firmly grounding you, but your head is turned, longing for the past . . . that is what this tea is about.

Ingredients

·        3 parts honeybush

·        3 parts cacao skins (chaff)

·        1 part nettle leaf

·        1 part peppermint

·        0.5 part jasmine blossoms (or 1 drop jasmine essential oil)

·        1 vanilla bean per pound of blended tea

Steeping

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

Taste: sweet and minty base with an aroma of roasted chocolate, vanilla, and jasmine

Herbal actions: nutritive, uplifting

Systems affected: nervous, general tonic

Herb Spotlight

Honeybush

Honeybush, also referred to as “red tea,” is sometimes confused with rooibos. Common names in South Africa include bush tea, bergtee, and bossie­tee. Honeybush is endemic to South Africa and normally grows in the coastal areas of the Western and Eastern Cape provinces from Darling to Port Elisabeth. Wild populations are found mostly around mountain peaks, perennial streams, marshy areas, shale bands, and wet southern slopes. The tea is harvested and fermented to bring out the reddish color and sweet, tangy flavor.

Honeybush does not contain caffeine. Traditionally, the tea is prepared by boiling 2 to 3 tablespoons per quart of water for 20 minutes. It is often consumed with milk and sugar, but neither is necessary to get a sense of its honeylike flavor. Traditional medicinal uses include easing constipation and reducing water retention, and it can be used to treat coughs, due to its piniton content. Piniton is an expectorant sometimes used to make cough syrup and is being studied for its reputation to lower blood sugar levels. The herb also contains isoflavones and coumestans, which are considered phytoestrogens and may help ease menopausal symptoms. A cup a day of mineral-rich honeybush is very nourishing.

Honeybush Spice

Honeybush Spice is a great choice when you are in the mood for a decaf spicy chai tea without the milk and sugar. Honeybush makes a delicious base that is slightly sweet and tangy, and the complexity of the honeybush gets amplified the longer you steep it. Ginger and anise aid in digestion and circulation. Cinnamon and cardamom are also warming herbs, but, in addition, they support the immune system and have strong antimicrobial properties that strengthen your body against illness. Orange zest and vanilla bean are added for their uplifting properties.

Ingredients

·        4 parts honeybush

·        3 parts cinnamon

·        1.5 parts ginger

·        1.5 parts star anise

·        1.5 parts cardamom

·        1 part clove

·        1 part orange zest

·        0.35 part licorice root

·        1 vanilla bean per pound of blended tea (optional)

Steeping

Pour 1.5 cups hot water over 1 tablespoon tea. Steep for 5 to 10 minutes. For a stronger cup, simmer 1 tablespoon tea in 2 cups water in a lidded saucepan for 10 minutes.

Taste: similar to chai but slightly less spicy

Herbal actions: warming, antimicrobial

Systems affected: digestive, immune

Lift the Grey

Sometimes it is nice to have a tea that can help you rise above the gray, whether actual clouds or mental fog. The rich, citrus tones of lemongrass and bergamot in this blend provide an almost immediate clarifying uplift. Clove’s rich, aromatic tones increase circulation while the rose and vanilla bean create a lovely, comforting accent. Let your mind perk up and deep satisfaction wash over you as you smell and sip this tea.

This tea is so much about aromatherapy. Warm floral, citrus, and clove tones are comforting and help transform sluggishness into movement and clarity.

Ingredients

·        1 part Earl Grey tea

·        0.5 part lemongrass

·        0.25 part rose petals

·        0.2 part clove

·        1 vanilla bean per pound of blended tea

Steeping

Pour 1.5 cups hot milk or water over 1 to 2 teaspoons tea. Steep for 4 to 7 minutes. Add a touch of honey.

Taste: smooth black tea coupled with uplifting aromatics of bergamot orange, lemongrass, and rose; lingering flavor of warm, deep, sensual cloves

Herbal actions: energizing, uplifting

Systems affected: nervous, immune

Vira Protect

If you have young kids, and your kids know other kids, or you spend time around lots of other people, then you might just want to have this little gem on hand starting in the fall. Wonderfully antibacterial and antiviral, this tea will help mediate a debilitating infection. Most of us have extremely full schedules, and it is easy to get run down. Drink this tea right away when you feel under the weather to help your body resist infections during the cold and flu season.

Ingredients

·        6 parts elderberry

·        6 parts ginger

·        5 parts mint

·        3 parts tulsi

·        3 parts anise seeds or clove

·        2 parts orange zest

·        1.5 parts yarrow

·        1 part licorice root

Steeping

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

Taste: slightly bittersweet and spicy with accents of mint and citrus

Herbal action: immune supportive

System affected: immune

Winter

Winter is our coldest season and should be a time of physical and mental restoration. But because we have a tendency to celebrate a long holiday season, we don’t always get the relaxation we need until winter has firmly set in. In our culture, our minds and bodies are exceptionally stimulated for much of the darkest period of the year, which is counterintuitive to the way we actually feel and sense the world.

Generally, once most plants have completed their life cycles or gone to sleep in the late fall, we, too, should take a load off. Most people would benefit from taking time in winter to restore their bodies and cultivate inner peace. The stillness or darkness of winter helps focus our energy inward, and this can be a really good thing for cultivating a resilient heart and mind. Instead of dreading winter weather, try framing winter as part of a natural cycle that slows you down just enough to provide an opportunity for emotional and spiritual growth.

Remind yourself that winter is a time when plants rest and a chance for you to reflect on parts of yourself that are vulnerable. If your body is telling you to retreat from external stress, or if you feel a resistance to forcing major physical changes in your life, then it is best to listen to what your body is telling you. Wait until you have the momentum of spring to start a new project or make a move. There is absolutely no shame in listening to your body and practicing self-care. Being true to yourself creates patterns of health and happiness.

Winter also offers quiet sanctuary to begin envisioning the future. With each successive month, you will start to feel the energy associated with the lengthening days. By midwinter our bodies, too, begin to make an energetic shift. You may notice that you sleep a little less and have a natural tendency to start imagining the upcoming seasons. Where I live, as soon as I notice the subtle shifts in the landscape that reflect the hospitality of spring, I begin to feel inflated with ideas. When you feel the pull, start making plans and dedicate a little time each day to creating a vision for the coming seasons. Do you want to start a garden in your backyard? Do you have a networking idea that could benefit your community? Is there a business, music, or art project that has been stewing inside you for ages?

I feel intense grounding energy in winter, and I create teas to align myself with that energy. To help you stay healthy, optimistic, and centered during winter, most of the teas included here are strong, spicy, and rich. Dark, earthy black teas are combined with aromatic spices and the occasional rosy nudge to remind us that spring is just around the corner.

Winter Solstice Tea

Winter solstice marks the moment when the contracting energy of summer and fall meets the expansive energy of winter and spring. We celebrate the transition by honoring both sides of the pendulum. Around the solstice we fill our homes with the wonderful scents of cedar, pine, cypress, and fir to honor the protective energy of evergreens, as they offer us respite from both summer and winter weather.

The cedar in this tea will help ground you and energize your senses. Chaga, elderberry, and clove contribute earthy, fruity, and spicy flavors, respectively. Honeybush is a great base, adding much-needed vitamins and minerals. This tea doubles as an immune tonic. Please enjoy it as you reflect on the last year, and let the herbs help transform you into an agent of love and compassion!

Ingredients

·        4 parts honeybush

·        2 parts elderberry

·        1 part cedar tips

·        1 part chaga mushrooms

·        0.5 part clove

Steeping

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

Taste: sweet honeybush base accented by earthy chaga, evergreen foliage, fruity elderberry, and spicy cloves

Herbal actions: nutritive, immune supportive

Systems affected: general winter tonic

Memoria

In memory of the other side of year, Memoria evokes the rich complexity of our ephemeral summer season. Fruity and floral in flavor, with citrus notes from the lemongrass for balance and brightness, Memoria is delicious and wonderfully antioxidant.

Ingredients

·        2 parts rose hips

·        2 parts honeybush

·        2 parts elderberry

·        1.5 parts rose petals

·        1 part calendula flowers

·        1 part lavender blossoms

·        1 part lemongrass

Steeping

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

Taste: a stunning combination of sweet, tangy, fruity, floral, and citrus

Herbal actions: nutritive, uplifiting, hydrating

Systems affected: general tonic

Winter Comfort

This is a great tea for December. I highly recommend some introspective time on the day of the solstice with a hot cup of Winter Comfort. This blend is somewhat evocative of holiday spice blends but also displays some deep, earthy, evergreen energy.

The slightly aromatic Douglas fir needles have a mild citrus flavor and create the red hue of this tea. Doug fir is a good source of vitamin C and is just so darn delicious. You can harvest Douglas fir needles yourself if you have a tree in your yard. The young spring tips are best for cooking and make a slightly sweeter tea, but the mature foliage can still be harvested after a windstorm when big limbs fall. Use the needles fresh or remove them from the stem and dry them for later. If you dry the needles in a dehydrator, you’ll enjoy the vivid aroma of Christmas for several days. Make sure your dehydrator is on the lowest heat setting.

Fenugreek provides the maplelike sweetness in this blend. In Western herbalism, it is best known for its use as a galactagogue herb, supporting nursing mothers. With its slightly bittersweet flavor, fenugreek is more commonly used as a spice in many Indian curry dishes. It also helps decrease digestive complaints. Immune-boosting cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and nutmeg are part pleasure, part therapy.

Ingredients

·        2 parts Douglas fir tips

·        2 parts fenugreek seeds

·        1 part chaga mushrooms

·        1 part cinnamon

·        1 part cardamom

·        1 part ginger

·        0.5 part nutmeg

Steeping

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

Taste: comforting blend of winter spices and fresh evergreen foliage

Herbal actions: uplifting, immune supportive

Systems affected: general winter tonic

Rejuvenate

I hope you will learn to love this tea, because it’s worth it! If you drink Rejuvenate on a regular basis, its adaptogenic herbs will help restore and protect your body from the damaging effects of stress. Reishi and chaga mushrooms, astragalus, codonopsis, rhodiola, and ashwagandha support the nervous system, immunity, and the musculoskeletal system. Codonopsis and rhodiola are energizing, so if you suffer from chronic tiredness associated with stress, try experimenting with these herbs rather than drinking caffeine.

Because we often eat rich foods and are less active during winter, we develop deficiencies in the liver and kidneys. Dandelion and burdock roots work well together to support your liver and kidneys, respectively. They are considered cooling herbs, so if you already feel cool or notice your digestion is slow, add some fresh ginger or cinnamon to help create more of a warming effect. One added cosmetic benefit of having healthy functioning liver and kidneys is that your skin looks and feels much clearer.

This tea is helpful for people with environmental stress, but also for people who suffer from PTSD, head trauma, and chronic fatigue.

Ingredients

·        5 parts burdock root

·        3 parts dandelion root

·        3 parts fenugreek seeds

·        2.5 parts ashwagandha (Indian ginseng)

·        2.5 parts codonopsis

·        2 parts chaga mushrooms

·        2 parts rhodiola

·        2 parts astragalus

·        2 parts cinnamon (optional)

·        1 part reishi mushrooms

·        Fresh ginger, grated (optional)

Steeping

Combine 3 tablespoons tea and 4 cups water in a lidded saucepan. Slowly bring to a simmer. Simmer for 20 to 60 minutes or longer. The longer you decoct the tea, the more potent the tea becomes and the more water is necessary for the simmer. If you do not initially like the strong, potent flavor, use more water to dilute and mellow it.

Taste: earthy roots paired with aromatic spices

Herbal actions: supports the whole body

Systems affected: general tonic

Deep Wellness

I created Deep Wellness tea for those with cold symptoms that seem to linger. When I feel damp and experience the remnants of a cold, I love to drink this tea. I almost instantly feel a harmonizing effect in my lungs and sinuses.

Elderberry has been used for centuries to treat respiratory illnesses associated with colds, flus, and infections. It imparts a nice fruity flavor, which can be refreshing during the winter months when this tea will be indispensable. Elecampane — with actions that are expectorant, antifungal, antitussive, and warming — is able to clear congestion in the lungs and lower throat and is used to treat bronchitis and asthma. Eucalyptus is the main ingredient in many herbal chest rubs for kids and adults with deep chest colds. In tea form, it has a nice menthol character that helps clear mucus blockages. Its uplifting aroma also helps brighten the mood. Yerba santa is native to the mountains of the southern Cascades and Sierras and is typically used for respiratory health. I adore its rich, aromatic resins.

For supporting herbs, I included licorice for its sweet flavor and to soothe sore throats, and lemonbalm for its antiviral properties and nervous-system support. Spearmint is more for flavor and aromatics to help clear sinus congestion and remove excess heat if there is any. Slightly sweet, slippery elm is great for soothing inflamed tissues in the mouth and throat, especially if you have a cough.

Ingredients

·        1 part elderberry

·        1 part elecampane root

·        1 part echinacea

·        1 part eucalyptus

·        1 part spearmint

·        1 part lemonbalm

·        0.5 part licorice root

·        0.5 part yerba santa

·        0.5 part slippery elm or marshmallow root

Steeping

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

Taste: sweet and moistening with strong menthol aromatics and hints of berries and citrus

Herbal actions: immune supportive, decongestant, demulcent

Systems affected: immune, respiratory

Fire Tea

Smoky teas can be difficult for some people to enjoy. I try to balance the smoky aroma and taste by using them as accents rather than the driving taste of the blend. This tea is full of complexity, and I hope you are able to sit peacefully and embrace it with a sense of intrigue and fun. What does this tea remind you of? So many memories come to mind when I sip Fire Tea, especially around the solstice.

Lapsang souchong hails from the Wuyi Mountains in southeast China but is primarily exported to the West. The leaves for this tea are the last pickings from the tea plants for the season. Because they lack some of the luster and complexity of the earlier pickings, they are perfect for being smoked over pine needles. I adore lapsang souchong blended with other herbs. It creates smoky notes similar to a fine bourbon. I tend to love teas that are made with roasted or smoked herbs because they have warm energy.

Tulsi and gotu kola, often found together in my blends, support brain health and provide a wonderful mental boost. Tulsi also aids in digestion. The aromatics in peppermint dance together beautifully above the cup with the smoky tea. Licorice and goji add just enough sweetness to brighten the flavor so you can clearly taste all the respective parts as they register upon the palate.

Ingredients

·        2 parts lapsang souchong

·        1 part tulsi

·        1 part peppermint

·        0.5 part gotu kola

·        0.5 part goji berries

·        0.5 part licorice root

Steeping

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

Taste: wood smoke contrasted with sweet mints and licorice, plus the aromatic, peppery tulsi

Herbal actions: energizing, nutritive, supports brain and memory

System affected: nervous

Late Winter Woodsman Tea

This is a truly delicious blend inspired by darkness and memories of the light. Lapsang souchong is a black tea smoked over pine needles for a dark, distinctively smoky flavor. Kukicha is a roasted twig tea. The smoky and roasted flavors of lapsang and kukicha together signify the earthy aspects of winter and the necessity of fire and heat to stay warm.

Nettle nourishes the body and spirit and supports increased metabolic activity. Cedar tips are antimicrobial and grounding. Both bridge the seasons by being one of the earliest signs of spring. The uplifting flavors and fragrances of jasmine and vanilla promote creative inspiration and are incredibly beloved by humans. Jasmine oil is really expensive, but it adds incredibly mood-elevating and relaxing aromatherapy.

Ingredients

·        1 part lapsang souchong

·        1 part nettle leaf

·        1 part kukicha twig tea

·        1 part cedar tips

·        0.5 part jasmine flowers (optional, mostly for color and subtle taste)

·        A few drops of real jasmine essential oil per pound of blended tea

Steeping

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

Taste: a full, sensual experience of flavors and aromas — a rich, smoky, roasted base, with cedar and jasmine playfully dancing above the cup

Herbal actions: energizing, immune supportive, uplifting, nutritive

Systems affected: nervous, immune

Kahwa

This is a unique tea inspired by a Kashmiri tea traditionally made in a samovar, a metal urn with a spigot. In Kashmir, kahwa is usually served to guests after dinner, and saffron is often added for the most special guests.

I find green tea and cardamom to be a stellar combination. The rose, cinnamon, and almonds add a lot of depth and richness to this well-rounded tea.

Ingredients

·        2 parts green tea

·        2 parts roasted almonds

·        1 part rose petals

·        1 part cardamom

·        0.5 part cinnamon

·        1 saffron thread per cup (optional)

Steeping

Pour 1.5 cups hot water over 1 tablespoon tea. Steep for 5 to 10 minutes. Alternatively, simmer in a saucepan over low heat and add a little sugar to create a unique bittersweet taste.

Taste: nutty, floral, spicy, and grassy

Herbal actions: energizing, uplifting, digestive

Systems affected: nervous, digestive

Traveler’s Tea

If you are one of the many who do a lot of traveling during the holidays, I hope you keep this tea on hand as you head out via train, plane, or automobile. Traveler’s Tea is loosely based on a traditional Bedouin tea made from black tea and Arabian Desert herbs, such as wild thyme and desert sage. The Bedouins use specific regional desert plants that are probably closer in flavor to bitter sagebrush than our delicate culinary varieties.

I deeply admire the historical and contemporary herbal practices of nomadic peoples around the world. It is hard for me to even begin to imagine the relationship these people have with the landscape. A family or clan has to fully engage with their place in order to provide nourishment, medicine, water, and safe shelter. Many nomadic peoples have distinct seasonal migratory patterns that form a complete loop each year.

The immune system is fully tested when we are traveling, and having Traveler’s Tea in tow ensures safe and healthy passage from place to place. I designed this tea around common herbs and basic black tea that you already have in your kitchen or can get easily at the grocery store. Black tea will give you the endurance you need to get where you are going while the herbs are warming, antimicrobial, and antiviral. The licorice helps restore the nervous system.

Ingredients

·        10 parts black tea

·        3 parts cinnamon

·        2 parts sage

·        2 parts thyme

·        2 parts winter savory

·        2 parts licorice root

·        2 parts rosemary

Steeping

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

Taste: bold black tea with savory herbs and sweet licorice

Herbal actions: immune supportive, energizing

Systems affected: immune, nervous

Living Amid Your Medicine