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I recently discovered that if you spend 3 or so years without having so much as a sniffle, when one catches you, it feels like a doozie, even if it’s really not that terrible. I’ve been drinking quarts of lemon, ginger, and garlic honey (weirdly delicious if you’re sick!) tea, along with lots of elderberry and holy basil.
It’s been a bit since I sent out a newsletter, so it was wonderful to run across this article that Molly wrote several years ago. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did – again!
Essentialherbal.com Jan/Feb 2015
Having the opportunitea to study with my mother and aunt (Maryanne Schwartz) as well as Susanna Reppert-Brill and Sue Hess has been the driving force behind my love in herbs. When I started learning from these women I never would have guessed how many opportunities would become available to me. Be it travel, educational, or just new experiences, herbs have given me more inspiration than I ever thought possible.
One aspect of my inspiration has been my own curiositea when it comes to herbal tea. While I have always enjoyed a good cup of tea, being able to blend and create new concoctions has helped me find out more about herbs firsthand.
When I know I’m going to have a busy week for instance, I know I’m going to want teas that help keep my immune system going and my nerves calm, so I turn to holy basil. If I feel like I could use a lift or need to wake up, I grab some black tea with hibiscus flowers and orange peel. It’s helped me work on becoming more knowledgeable about herbs and their purpose as well as how I can use them to best fit me.
A few months ago, I started making a couple blends a few times a week, just to get familiar with more of the different tea herbs, and also to learn about the tastes of some of the herbs that we might not always think of right way when it comes to blending a tea.
To do that, I started by choosing a purpose, a main herb, and some others that would bolster that purpose and provide flavor and sometimes color. Besides learning about the herbs that taste good to me, I learned a lot about how forgiving the craft of tea blending can be. It is an experiment that I highly recommend.
I would suggest only brewing small batches to start. While I’m tempted to drag out the crock pot and create an incredibly potent concoction (especially when I get a new bag of tea) I remind myself it’s best to play with the flavors before deciding on a favorite to focus a lot of energy on.
To start I would suggest filling a small pot (like a sauce pan) with water and letting it come to a boil. Then turn off the burner and put the tea ball, spoon, or bag into the pan. Let it steep (covered) for the recommended time and go from there. The great thing about tea is that you can always heat it up to add more flavors or to make it stronger. Be sure to always clean your tea balls or tea spoons out with warm water before putting another blend in. While it doesn’t have to be washed with soap and water each time, cleaning it out can help maintain separation of flavors. Nothing tastes funkier than a lemon grass blend being mixed with the chai blend you just finished up.
Here are a few of my favorite blends:
Ginger and Hibiscus
I like this because it settles my stomach and is full of flavor. It’s great for long car rides or just when you need something to wake you up in the middle of the day. For those of you who want to avoid drinking caffeine it is caffeine free and the hibiscus flowers contain plenty of vitamin C.
Once you allow the ginger tea to steep, mix the hibiscus in. You may only want a spoonful of hibiscus so it does not over power the drink. Once that’s done, mix the honey. (1 part ginger, 1/2 part hibiscus to start)
Optional – Let the tea chill in the fridge. While you may drink it hot, I personally prefer cold.
Black Tea, Rose Petals, and Orange Peel
Black tea is fantastic to have in the morning and adding rose, orange peel, and a bit of lemon juice can help boost your energy.
Steep the black tea with about a spoonful of rose petals mixed with orange peels. Steep for five to ten minutes and then enjoy!
(1 part black tea with 1/4 rose petals and 1/4 orange peel would be a good start)
Yum! This is one of my favorite teas of all time. It took me a couple of tries to come up with this mix. I wanted to make a concentrate that could just be added to milk.
To do this I use TEH’s chai mix and add ginger and honey. It gives it enough sweetness and zing so when you add the milk there is still plenty of flavor.
I like this for the afternoon when you’re just about to nod off. It helps keep you focused, not to mention the perfect addition to any afternoon snack.
Last but not least,
Holy Basil and Green Tea
During more stressful days I could definitely drink this by the gallons. Just mix holy basil leaves with your favorite green tea. 50/50 works. I only like it to steep for a few minutes since green tea is so light. From there you can drink hot or cold. It’s so tasty either way.
I’ve also tried a few other ingredients such as white tea, stevia, raspberry and blueberry leaves, and whatever else I can find. White tea is always nice if you want a light and delicate flavor while raspberry and blueberry leaves add a tart fruity taste that is great with green tea or mint tea.
While I often like to leave my tea unsweetened, stevia can be a great addition to any cup. Be sure to use it sparingly however (like a leaf in the tea ball or spoon with the rest of the blend), otherwise you may find it too sweet and it quickly becomes bitter if you use too much.
As you can see, I’m not too much of a stickler when it comes to measurements. Many of my experiments involve a little of this and a little of that. I try to leave plenty of room for myself and others to play with. I like working like this because it helps me find out what is best for me. Find the perfect mix for you. It can be a delightful way to learn about herbs.
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