Tincture Blending with Western Herbs in the Chinese Herbal Style

June 22nd, 2014 § 1 comment § permalink

Sp-Qi-tincture with text

It’s probably no surprise that I prefer tea over tinctures. Yet, I often use tinctures for both myself and for others because of their ease of use. There’s no waiting for a pot of tea to brew, nor do you have to take cups of tea to work with you! Tinctures have many benefits beyond these; the alcohol is a perfect medium to extract certain chemical constituents to create a concentrated herbal extract with a fairly long shelf life.

Yesterday on the Summer Solstice, I used Chinese herbal formulating principles to create a Harmonizing tincture blend to soothe my acute upset stomach. » Read the rest of this entry «

In the Herb Nook

June 11th, 2014 § 3 comments § permalink

cascadia-tinctures-in-window

Every time I go to work in my herb nook, I practically burst with appreciation. This is where I get to work?! Surrounded by herbs and oils and tins and bottles, things that I love playing with? Creating this little herb studio in my teeny tiny kitchen has been one of the best things I have ever done. It’s like a working in an alter.

Do any of you have an herbal nook of your own?

A space dedicated to storing and creating with herbs, whether it be a shelf in a cupboard or a room in a house?

I’d love to hear about it!

» Read the rest of this entry «

Violet Elixir – Immortalizing Spring

April 26th, 2014 § 2 comments § permalink

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Tales of a mythical violet liqueur

Two years ago, it happened to me. I became determined that I would make violet liqueur.

My friend Susan told me about an incredible violet liqueur she found while traveling in Greece. With her experience as a bartender and world traveler, one could not take her praise of the violet liqueur lightly.

I had made a few liqueurs before, some at Sage mountain in the herbal classes. Irish Creme, creamy coco damiana blends. They were delicious and surprisingly easy. I had seen Theresa Broadwine make liqueurs at Medicines from the Earth. I had even tried my hand at making dandelion wine.

The idea of capturing the essence of violets was too much to shake. I wondered if I could possibly make one myself, if I could ever find that many violets to pick. » Read the rest of this entry «

Mullein, Cedar and Tangerine Peel: Simple Tea for the Lungs

April 5th, 2014 § 1 comment § permalink

 

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Sometimes simple is good

A few months ago, I experienced a lingering cough after an case of influenza. When it was a stronger, more irritating cough, I treated it aggressively with Planetary Formulas’ Old Indian Wild Cherry Syrup (plus other things). It’s strong stuff, but when I have had bronchial infections it has historically helped so much that I go straight to it.

After the worst of the cough was gone, I reached for a tea of three simple herbs which are easy to harvest and created a tea general tea for the lungs that’s quite delicious.

Three Herb Tea for Promoting General Lung Function

Triple Rose and Lavender Sipping Tea

January 21st, 2014 § 1 comment § permalink

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rose-and-lavender-tea

I love making custom tea blends for people. Whether it’s an herbal sipping tea or a strong medicinal blend, there’s nothing like making a big batch of tea with someone in mind.

One request was for a rose and lavender tea. Seems like simple enough directions, but when I tasted just the two herbs together, I felt like it needed depth and a variance of flavor. Those flowers competed with each other and needed to be tamed a bit.

Triple Rose and Lavender

  • 1 part Lavender flowers
  • 1 part Rosebuds
  • 2 parts Rose Hips
  • 1/2 part hand-harvested Rose Petals

The rose hips added a hint of sweet and tart, and gave the brewed tea a smoky rose color. Rose hips weighed down the floral and fragrant blossoms allowing the taste can linger on your palate, rather than float away to the ethers. I used to use rose hips sparingly, but now I use them in much higher proportions and appreciate the flavor and nourishment they offer as a medicinal food.

I could’ve just used the rosebuds, but the Oregon rose petals impart such a different quality of rose flavor that I had to include them. Hand-harvest rose petals have a spicy, dryer, milder flavor than the standard rosebuds, and I find that they blend extremely well with other herbs while the rosebuds tend to dominate.

There is a general menstruation tea I make with Rose petals, Bai Shao (White Peony root), Yarrow, Raspberry and warming spices. The rose petals blend so nicely herbs that the rose taste is barely noticeable, if at all. Those foraged petals are quite a different animal than the concentrated buds.

The rose petals are varied, coming from different plants at different times. To me, this adds to their appeal all the more. Yellow, peach, mauve, pink, red, pale lavender and any shade in between. Oh, and then there’s the delicately curled pinnate rose leaves. The rose petals impart a wildness, albeit an urban wildness, to a cup of tea.

Herbal medicine is time and space medicine… I guess you could say locally grow food is similar (or herbal sipping teas?). I love knowing where my herbs came from, who harvested them, what the plants looked like when they were picked, and what the clouds looked like in the sky. Is it farfetched to think clouds and wind and the buzz of pollinating bees can be captured in herbs that were harvested that day? And when I sip that tea, does that snapshot of time resonate within my body and spirit?

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Feverfew and the Headache

November 27th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

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feverfew-2

This summer I grew Feverfew for the first time, in a pot with Mexican Oregano and Dusty Miler. It grew well, and tolerated frequent harvest of its flowers and leaves for tincturing, sprouting new buds and growth many times. I hope it comes up next year so I can enjoy it all over again.

Feverfew had always confused me. I rarely heard it used for any other use besides migraines, and since I rarely experience migraines or headaches myself or treat many headaches, I didn’t gain experience with it. It seems that there were differing opinion about it. Some said it was only good for headaches with specific indications, some said to take it as a prophylaxis daily for any sort of migraine. Some said it was overrated and some said it was highly reliable. » Read the rest of this entry «

Sneak Peak: New Products for the Shop

November 27th, 2013 § 2 comments § permalink

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new-products-nov-13

New products soon to be in the shop!

I am really excited to add a new herbal face care line. I have been using my own face toner, steam and oil serum for years now, so it feels good to finally perfect my formulas (for the time being, at least) and offer them in the shop.

Another addition will be a nourishing hair oil, with jojoba oil. I love jojoba oil, it is so luxurious and is notably a little different from other oils as it seems to lock in moisture and balance oil production with long term use. At first I was concerned it would build up on the hair, but I haven’t found this to be the case at all. From my experience, it seems that waxes tend to build up, not oils.

I also have a Cedarwood and Fir deodorizing body spray. Even though the scent is on the masculine side, I find myself wearing it almost daily. I just can’t get enough of that cedar scent. » Read the rest of this entry «

Where Do We Go Now? Searching for Herbal Integration

November 19th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

shoes-florence-garden

shoes-florence-gardenWhat’s your herbal story? How did you get here? What lessons are hidden in this journey to the plants, to nature and to herbal medicine?

If you are like me, you have been asking yourself these and many other questions about how you fit in the grand scheme of this calling of working with the herbs. » Read the rest of this entry «

Tea of the Day: St. John’s Wort, Milky Oats and Chamomile Tea for the Center

November 13th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

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Here’s a gentle and tasty tea combining some of my favorite herbs to support the all-important brain-gut connection. It works on the nervous system and the middle jiao (digestion) to move Qi and ease stomach aches, increase healthy permeability and absorption in the gut, calms the emotions especially anxiety, is tonifying to worn-out adrenals, warms and increases circulation. » Read the rest of this entry «

Olea europaea: Olive Trees in Rome

October 12th, 2013 § 1 comment § permalink

collosseum tree

 

arch olive treeI have just returned from an Italian vacation. Oh, the sights, the food, the plants and the ruins to be seen! One particular plant seen all over the place happens to be one of utmost importance: the Olive tree. Olive trees are all over the place. From afar they are easy to identify because of their round, squat crown and their distinctive pale silvery-green foliage. » Read the rest of this entry «

Fresh, Dried and from the Garden: Intuitive Herbal Tea Making

September 18th, 2013 § 3 comments § permalink

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Teas tell a story, especially hand-harvested teas. Finding the penultimate Rose, camping with friends and harvesting fresh Skullcap as the last think to pack into the car, cutting Passionflower for a trailing bouquet with dahlias and sunflowers, magenta sunsets, petting kitties in the waning moonlight. » Read the rest of this entry «

Herb Samples: A Most Useful Study Aid

September 6th, 2013 § 5 comments § permalink

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The last 4 weeks have been a whirl-wind. But I made out out on the other side! Yes, I officially graduated.

My last board exam was the herbal one. I spent a week doing practice tests, reading through my notes and fondling my samples. My herb samples came from the free table at school. Some samples were missing, some had pre-made notes and some had lost their, um, freshness, but I didn’t care. They did the trick. It is much easier to memorize things when the thing you have to memorize is in your hands, or at least it is for me. I would’ve preferred to taste each one individually, see it growing, learn the botany, chemistry and ethnobotanic history in an attempt to really learn it. How much can you know about a plant by just reading about it? A lot, true, but so much can be gleaned experientially. » Read the rest of this entry «