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 «
It is getting warmer. And brighter. Things are green, really green. Rose and calendula are in bloom! They come home with me, flowers stuffed in pockets and lunch boxes, and those which are not dried or arranged in a vase go straight into a cup of tea. » Read the rest of this entry «
All I have left from my calendula harvest this year is caterpillar poop. And some golden calendula flower oil, probably with a caterpillar or two in it. For all the flowers I picked, all the times I tried to meticulously remove caterpillars, and all the ways I tried to harvest and dry them, not a one remains. » Read the rest of this entry «
Sometimes your favorite herbal concoctions come out of nowhere. One day a woman came into the herb shop with an ambiguous book under her arm called something like “Herbal Cleansing” and a list of about twenty herbs she needed for a such a cleanse. Hours after I helped this person with her herbs, I found a little scrap of paper with a formula called simply “Detox Bath”. It sounded so yummy I made it up right then and tried it out that evening. I call it “Refreshing Bath”, because I feel renewed after a soak in its freshness.
- 1 part Juniper berries, ground coarsely
- 1 part Rosemary, coarsely cut
- 1 part Calendula or comfrey
- 2 parts Peppermint
Directions: Steep 3/4 cup herbs in 6 cups just boiled water, covered, for 30 mins. Strain. Add to bath and adjust water temp.
Alternate directions: Tie 3/4 cup herbs in a thin cotton flour sack towel or place in a muslin bag, position under the faucet, and run hot water through to “steep”. Adjust water temperature, soak and enjoy.
Juniper (Juniperus communis) is an antiseptic diuretic rich in volatile oils and tannins. By itself, juniper is quite strong, but luckily it blends well with other cooler aromatic herbs. And no, it does NOT smell like gin, gin smells like juniper! Juniper is not recommended for internal use during pregnancy or severe kidney infections or disease (you don’t want to over-stimulate delicate kidneys) and I would extend those basic guidelines to external use.
Calendula (Calendula officinalis) and comfrey (Symphytum officinale) are great herbs to add to just about any bath because of their topical healing properties. Pick one, or both. I often choose calendula because it adds color to the mix (quite beautiful with dark purple juniper berries!) and is a gentle lymphatic. The other herbs in the recipe, rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) and peppermint (Mentha piperita) are wonderfully aromatic and stimulating members of the mint family that add to the experience.
Sometimes these impromptu, sensual creations may be just what we need.
On New Year’s Day I decided to get to work right away on organizing my dried herbs. I opened one of the three cupboards where bags and jars of herbs are scattered about, pulled out a two bags that occupied me for the rest of the evening. Enough organizing…I’ll have plenty of time to tidy up my herbs later, right? (Note to self: get on the bottle and bags…that’s what I said last New Year’s!)
I found about an ounce each of lavender and safflower. The red and purple looked so vibrant together, especially against the backdrop of an overcast Minnesota winter day. Each of the herbs are essentially the flowers of the plant, similarly tubluar yet delicate in shape. I added another flower, one with a slightly bitter, resinous quality to mellow the taste of the blend; calendula. Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t mellow that much, after all calendula is another vibrant flower with it’s own sunny qualities.
After admiring the sunny-red-purpleness in the jar, I steeped my tea blend. With beverage blends, I steep for under an hour, but I was still following my intuition and made a medicinal infusion instead. Four hours later I strained and sipped, the taste was both one entity and separate parts that cascaded through my senses. The gritty-sweet lavender was the high note, which I felt in my head, on my palate, in the back of my neck. The moving yet fullness I felt from the safflower was the middle taste. I didn’t feel it in any place in particular, but simply that it was everywhere uniting my limbs to my body. The sip ended with the a calendula slightly bitter centering I could feel on the bottom of my stomach, up through my side body to the lymph nodes in my armpits where it lingered. I tasted calendula in every part of my mouth; between teeth, across the map of the tongue, in the epithelial cells, on the palate.
The overall feeling of the tea was one of cellular cleansing from the center of my body out and emotional peace without much thoughts. I tried to think about how the tea was making me feel and promptly decided to “stop thinking about how I feel, just feel!”. In a way it cleared my mind, not with clarity of thoughts but a reduction of them. A pretty good state of mind to start the new year with…