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Herbs and Herbalism plant wonder collective

October: Elderberry Month

I can’t believe October is already more than halfway through! Life has certainly been busy over here in the Herbology Faerie’s apothecary. My children have been home for their two week fall break, my husband took a trip for work, there have been visitors and visits, sickness, and it’s just been a bit of chaos around here. But I have still been connecting with the plant world, so I am here to share a bit about that!

This month has been elderberry month at the Plant Wonder Collective! I have so enjoyed working with lovely elderberry this October. I have not yet had the time to write up a monograph post for elderberry this month, but I will try to do that before October is done. Meanwhile, here is a link to the Plant Wonder Collective’s elderberry monograph post!

Elderberry Monograph

I have concocted a couple of fun elderberry potions this month which I have shared on Instagram. I’ll share them here, too, to make them easier to find. First up: an elderberry hot toddy!

Elderberry Hot Toddy

Next, I shared the beginnings of my elderberry infused gin this week. It is still infusing, but I will be straining it soon and sharing a cocktail or two made with this lovely liquor. Here is the initial post about its creation!

Elderberry Gin

And one last post to share: here is some elderberry wisdom from The Illustrated Herbiary by Maia Toll. Elderberry reminds us to embrace the cycles and seasons of life and our place within them.

I hope October is treating you well, friends! Perhaps you’ll find some inspiration here to connect with elderberry in your own ways this month, or in the months to come!

Categories
Herbs and Herbalism plant wonder collective

Herb Profile: Lemon Balm

Happy September! It’s a new month (one of the best ones!) and time for a new plant profile. Since I’ve officially joined in on the Plant Wonder Collective on Instagram, I’m going to begin featuring the PWC herb of the month in my plant profile blog posts to coincide. So, for September, let’s take a look at lemon balm!

I think of lemon balm as being one of the most “chill” herbs I’ve had the pleasure to befriend and work with. The spirit of this plant is so happy, cheerful, and uplifting. And its scent and taste are, too! It should come as no surprise, then, that lemon balm is considered a relaxing nervine herb. But it is so much more than that, too!

Originally native to southern and Central Europe, the Middle East, and parts of Asia, lemon balm is now much more widespread in its naturalization. One thing I find fascinating about lemon balm is its varied recorded historical uses—from the Greeks and Romans, to the Middle Ages, and beyond. It was a favorite strewing herb and had many medicinal, culinary, and even perfuming applications. In folklore, lemon balm is associated with protection and joy (echoing its medicinal qualities) and is associated with the goddess Diana.

Lemon balm has a primarily sour taste (though many find it sweet as well) and is energetically cooling and drying. It has a wide range of properties—relaxing nervine, antiviral and antimicrobial, antioxidant, antispasmodic, digestant, and probably more. Lemon balm is well known as a gentle, safe aid for stress, anxiety, indigestion, nausea, and insomnia. It is also helpful for colds, fever, flu, and other infections, as well as topically for rashes, small wounds, and bug bites. It is great for the heart, cognitive function, and pain, and can help with depression and seasonal affective disorder as well.

One thing I’ve observed about lemon balm is that it smells and tastes much more potent and lemony when fresh. Dried lemon balm is equally useful and you’ll find it in many herbal teas, but nothing compares to fresh lemon balm. If you don’t have access to garden space, this is one herb you’ll definitely want to consider growing in a sunny windowsill!

I’ll be sharing more lemon balm recipes both here and over on Instagram throughout September, but I’ll leave you with one of the simplest and most soothing tea recipes I’ve encountered. It’s a classic you’re sure to have seen before on other recipe blogs or books, or even in a supermarket tea. There is a reason for that! It tastes wonderful cold or hot, it’s safe for kids and adults, and it is a gently relaxing tea to help with stress, anxiety, depression, digestion, colds, and insomnia.

Simple Soother:

1 part lemon balm

1 part chamomile

½ part lavender

That’s it! You can use fresh or dried herbs interchangeably in this recipe; I use what I have on hand. I like to cold brew big jars of this overnight and sip it any time of the day. I also share it with my kids, because they love it!

Are you a lemon balm lover? What is your favorite way to work with lemon balm?

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Sources:

• Rosalee de la Foret, Herb Mentor monograph

• Rebecca Beyer, Wild Witchcraft

• Sarah Farr, Healing Herbal Teas

• Tina Sams, Herbal Medicine for Emotional Healing

Categories
Herbs and Herbalism Recipes

Building a Foundation With Adaptogens

Not long ago, I shared a post that was a brief overview of nervine herbs and how they work to relax, tone, soothe, calm, and even gently stimulate the nervous system, digestive function, and circulation. Nervines are such gentle, steady friends!

I thought today I would touch on another, often overlapping category of herbs and botanicals: adaptogens.

Where nervines primarily help calm, adaptogens are known for helping to stabilize and protect. They are extremely grounding; help to protect from fatigue, overwhelm, and burnout; aid against anxiety, depression, and chronic stress; support and protect brain function; build resilience and uplift; and aid the immune system. Basically, adaptogens are powerhouse holistic mental and physical health supporters! Though every person’s constitution and health situation is different and they must use caution before trying any new substances, many adaptogens are generally as safe as most nervines are in normal doses.

If you prefer a less clinical perspective, think of it this way. While nervines can offer you a steady, calming pulse of reassurance and mental and physical support, adaptogens can hold you up, offer you inner strength, sharpen your mind, and keep you going. Adaptogens have your back.

So, who are these adaptogenic allies? Here is a list of a few of my favorites!

Tulsi

Nettles

Rhodiola

Schisandra

Eleuthero

Ashwagandha

Reishi

Astragalus

Licorice

Maca

Green tea

Ginseng

Most of these adaptogens can be found where you purchase herbs online if you can’t find them in person—Mountain Rose Herbs is often where I go to look for herbs on this list.


And now it’s recipe time! I thought I’d share two adaptogen recipes: a tea and a tincture. The tea is a great one to sip in the morning—you might even want to replace coffee with it sometimes for a more stable energy boost. In both the tea and the tincture, I’ve added some nervines too for taste and added benefits.

Simple Strength Adaptogen Tea:

1 part green tea

1 part tulsi

½ part mint 

½ part cardamom

¼ part fennel


Adaptogen Tincture:

1 part ashwagandha 

1 part astragalus 

1 part nettle

½ part mint

Vodka

. . . . . . .

Place herbs in a clean glass jar. Fill about ½ inch above the herbs with vodka, using a wooden spoon to make sure the herbs are fully covered. Place waxed paper and canning lid or bpa-free plastic lid on jar and store in a cool, dry place. Shake the jar each day, and if the herbs rise above the vodka or appear to have absorbed too much, add a bit more to cover them. (You can also move your mixture to a larger jar mid-process if needed.) Allow to macerate for 4-6 weeks. Strain into dropper bottles; take one dropperful either in a glass of water, in another beverage, or under the tongue.


If your health situation supports it, then daily doses of a couple of adaptogens that are suited to your needs can be an amazing holistic health approach. Many people sip on an adaptogen-based beverage every day instead of coffee to build up a strong foundation and mental and physical reserves. (I actually enjoy drinking coffee that has adaptogens right in it!)

Are you new to adaptogenic herbs? If not, which are your favorites? If so, which do you think you’d like to try?

Categories
Herbs and Herbalism Tea

Cold-Brewed Herbal Tea

Cold brewing is a pretty popular method for making coffee. It’s easy, it takes the bitter edge out of the coffee, and your brew is ready and waiting when you get up in the morning. But cold brewing isn’t necessarily everyone’s go-to method when it comes to herbal tea. While cold brewing isn’t ideal for every situation, it can definitely be an incredible tool for making herbalism simple, accessible, and an easily integrated part of your daily routine! (And for the record, it is my go-to more than half of the time!)

When is cold brewing herbal tea ideal?

There are plenty of scenarios in which cold brewing your herbal tea overnight in the fridge is a great option. 

If you’re using fresh herbs like lemon balm, mints, and rosemary, cold brewing brings out all the freshest, greenest flavors and energies and pairs well with fresh fruit.

When working with bitter herbs like chamomile and nettles, cold brewing works wonderfully to cut the bitter edge. This also goes for black and green teas—and it renders them slightly less tannic and caffeinated, if that’s what you’re going for. And if you’re a sweetener or sugar type, you might even find that your cold brewed teas don’t need any added sweetness like hot teas do!

Some herbs are more mucilaginous and simply do better in cold water, or are at least very well-suited to cold water. Marshmallow root, licorice root, and hibiscus fall into this category.

For convenience, I love to cold brew big jars of my daily sips overnight. I use this method especially for daily nourishing and supportive tonic teas I want to sip through the day. They’re just there, ready and waiting when I need them—no excuses or barriers to getting my “health potion!” And if I’m going to be on the go, I can just grab my jar and take it with me, for even more convenience. 

Obviously cold brewing your tea is especially useful in hot weather, or anytime if you’re simply a cold beverage person. You don’t have to wait for the hot tea to cool down if you brew it cold!

When is cold brewing not the best method for herbal tea?

Sometimes, there are certain factors that make cold brewing teas less than ideal. Here are a few occasions to think twice about cold brewing. 

If you’re using your tea to treat a cold or cough, hot tea may be best. Hot tea extracts quickly to address your symptoms, it can make a stronger tea more quickly, and the heat may soothe your nose, sinuses, mouth, throat, and lungs more effectively. 

There are certain botanicals that just don’t brew well, or as well, in cold water. Roots, woody herbs, and seeds tend to need hot water in the form of a regular hot brew, or even a decoction, to extract all the flavor and constituents effectively. Some examples of these herbs include chai-type spices (cloves, dried ginger, allspice), dandelion and burdock roots, astragalus, reishi, dried hawthorn berries, dried rose hips, and many others. 

Even a few tender herbs sometimes do better when brewed hot, too, if you’re looking to extract vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients more fully to make a true “nourishing infusion.” Nettles are a good example of this—though I personally dislike the taste of them as a hot tea enough that I’ll take my chances with the lesser amounts of nutrients in a cold brew! Raspberry leaf and red clover are other herbs that must be brewed hot if your goal is to extract the most nutrients possible.

Cold weather is also, of course, a possible factor. Sometimes you prefer a cozy, warm drink to encourage circulation and warm you up!

What do you need to cold brew herbal tea?

Cold brewing herbal tea does not require much in the way of equipment, tools, or skills. The most important part is a container—large glass jars work best—and herbs! You can even begin getting your feet wet by cold brewing about 3 store bought tea bags at a time per quart jar. (Jasmine green tea bags are my favorite to do this way.)

You will also need a way to strain your tea, whether you opt for a mesh kitchen strainer, a metal tea strainer, or environmentally-friendly paper tea bags (my usual choice for convenience). You can also bypass all these separate items by using a French press (reserved only for tea and not used for coffee) or a cold brewing jar.

Method

My method for cold brewing herbal tea is very simple and takes little effort or thought. I either place three store-bought tea bags into a quart jar, fill with water, and place in the fridge overnight, or I fill a large eco-friendly paper tea bag with dried herbs and use the same sized jar, also brewing in the fridge overnight. 

Here are some ideas if you’d like specific recipes for loose leaf, dried herbs to cold brew. In these recipes I’m using a quart jar and the parts are probably heaping tablespoons.

1 part chamomile, 1 part lemon balm, ½ part lavender

1 part mint, 1 part nettles, ½ part rosemary, ½ part lavender

1 part calendula, 1 part chamomile, 1 part elderflower, ½ part ginger

1 part tulsi, 1 part hibiscus, 1 part mint

Have you ever tried cold brewing your herbal tea? Which herbs are your favorite to cold brew?

Categories
Herbs and Herbalism Recipes

Herb Profile: Hibiscus

July is flying by! I blinked and now we are halfway through this month already; I kind of can’t even get my bearings. My twins’ fifth birthday began the month, there are other family goings-on, and it’s already back-to-school shopping time as my kids go back to school at the end of this month! (We have a different school calendar than most where we live.) Needless to say, my brain is a bit scrambled. But I’m here to talk about a favorite herb of mine for this crazy time of year—it’s not a nervine, but it pairs well with them and has an incredibly soothing effect during this hottest part of the year. It’s hibiscus!

There are actually many varieties of hibiscus, but the species most commonly referred to and used for consumption is Hibiscus sabdariffa. This hibiscus is also called roselle or sorrel. It is likely native to North or West Africa but now grows in many places throughout the world, and has been long used in Africa, Southeast Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

Hibiscus is considered a sour herb with cooling and moistening properties. It is especially helpful for heart health, blood pressure regulation, inflammation modulating, summer cooling, and nutrition as it’s dense with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. 

Hibiscus tastes delicious—hibiscus tea is strongly reminiscent of cranberry juice! My kids love making hibiscus and berry sun tea during the summer months and then chilling it in the fridge for a sweet, cooling summer beverage. When you’re making your own blends with hibiscus, think about combining it with chamomile or mint, cinnamon, honey, and your favorite fruits.

Hibiscus doesn’t do well as an alcohol tincture, so tea or food tend to be the most common ways it’s consumed. (It used to be commonly made into jam, and in some regions is eaten pickled!) Though that summer connection with hibiscus is strong, I also love using it as an ingredient in wintertime non-alcoholic mulled “wine” tea as it has that sharp, deep berry flavor that mimics wine and tastes great with warming spices. 

But since we are still very much in the heat of summer in the U.S. where I am, I’m going to share a super simple and refreshing hibiscus drink I love to make. It’s a very flexible recipe; use whichever ingredients you like or have on-hand!

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Do you enjoy hibiscus? What are your favorite types of hibiscus drinks, or even foods if you’ve tried them?

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Sources:

• Rosalee de la Foret, Herb Mentor monograph

• Apothecary At Home’s hibiscus herb-of-the-month club box

• Sarah Farr, Healing Herbal Teas

Categories
Herbs and Herbalism

Herb Profile: Mint

In the northern hemisphere, summer has just begun! In my neck of the woods, it is almost unbearably hot this time of year; that summer sunshine can be intense. So, for June’s herb profile, I thought I would talk about a favorite cooling herb of mine: mint.

I was actually also inspired by the Plant Wonder Collective on Instagram to talk about mint, too, because it’s their herb of the month. If you aren’t already following along with their monthly herb features, I highly recommend that you do! They share collective recipes, DIYs, information, and botanical love featuring a different herb each month and showcasing many varied contributors. I’ve just recently begun following along and I am so enjoying it!

Anyway, back to mint! It’s actually interesting because many people are referring specifically to peppermint when they mention mint, but there are actually many varieties of mint. Sweet mint, spearmint, wild mint, water mint, apple mint, pineapple mint, brandy mint, chocolate mint, orange mint, horse mint, foxtail mint, mojito mint, and many others grow in a variety of areas around the world. (Interestingly, the specific species of peppermint wasn’t officially recorded in the Western pharmacopoeia until the mid-1700s!)

Mint should not be written off as simply a flavoring. It can be a potent ally in so many ways! Mint varieties can vary from warming to cooling, but peppermint is cooling, and drying. The properties of mint include digestive, mood boosting, uplifting and calming, memory and focus enhancing, gently energizing, pain easing, cold relieving, anti-inflammatory, anti-nausea, antibacterial, anti-fungal properties, and more. In folk belief, mint is associated with healing, prosperity, vitality, communication, dreams, awakening, protection, purification and cleansing, love, and positivity.

A note on growing your own mint, if you are considering adding it to an herb garden: it is best in containers! Mint is easy to grow and absolutely flourishes…a little too well. It will take over any space where you plant it and overtake its neighboring herbs. So, it’s best to plant mint in its own separate containers rather than in a shared herb bed. That said, mint is incredibly beginner-friendly and a great starter herb for those just testing the gardening waters!

Though some might associate the flavor of mint with winter holidays, I love it for its cooling effects in the summer! There is nothing better than a cold infusion of fresh mint and its cousin lemon balm, kept in a jar in the fridge to be sipped throughout the day. Also, a sun tea of mint, hibiscus, and lime is super refreshing and cooling on a hot day.

Here is one more recipe, for Summer Mint Moon Tea. I like to moon-brew (overnight infusion) this combo of herbs and enjoy it before bed as a cooling, calming, soothing sip. Its combination of cooling, calming, memory-aiding, dream-inducing, and heart-soothing herbs makes for sweet summertime dreams.

Summer Mint Moon Tea:

2 parts mint (peppermint or spearmint)

1 part lavender

1 part rosemary

1 part mugwort

1/2 – 1 part rose petals

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Are you a mint-lover? How many varieties of mint have you tried? Do you have any unique ways you like to work with mint?

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Sources:

• Rosalee de la Foret, Alchemy of Herbs

• Apothecary At Home’s Peppermint monograph

• Sarah Farr, Healing Herbal Teas

• Patti Wigington, Herb Magic

• Tina Sams, Herbal Medicine for Emotional Healing

Categories
Herbs and Herbalism

Recharging Your Battery With Nervine Herbs

I can’t believe it’s almost June! May has really flown by. Before mental health month is over, I thought I would jump on the blog and talk a bit about one of my favorite types of mental health support: nervine herbs!

Many nervine herbs are gentle and safe for frequent use and can be a part of your daily mental health support regimen. Nervines are known for their benefits to the nervous system, hence the name. They support, tone, nourish, and soothe, offering us calming, anti-anxiety, digestion soothing, pain relieving, and grounding benefits, among many others.

Here are a few of my favorite nervine herbs:

Chamomile

Rosemary (relaxing / stimulating)

Tulsi

Lavender

Lemon balm

Linden

Hawthorn

Elderflower

Rose

Passionflower

Skullcap

Peppermint (stimulating)

Cacao (stimulating)

Most of the preceding list of herbs are normally categorized as relaxing nervines. Relaxing nervines do just what they sound like: they help to relax your nervous system. Stimulating nervines don’t stimulate in the caffeine sense; instead, they are uplifting and stimulate digestion. And some nervines do both at the same time! Also, each different nervine has its own particular chemical constituents that aid in different ways on top of the nervine qualities. For example, hawthorn is amazing for heart health, passionflower and skullcap are helpful in aiding sleep, and chamomile is known especially for helping with pain, cramps, indigestion, and fever.

As with anything, consult your doctor as needed and don’t take huge doses of any herb over short periods of time. But do think about branching out and trying different nervines to see what works well to support your particular needs. 

And since summer is fast approaching here in the northern hemisphere, I am going to leave you with a simple, cooling and soothing infusion recipe featuring nervine herbs. This is a favorite of mine! You can make this with fresh or dried herbs (I grow all of these in my mini herb garden); drink it hot or cold (my summer preference is definitely cold); and sun brew, cold brew overnight in the fridge, or infuse with hot water (I usually prefer to cold brew or sun brew). Regardless of how you make it, the soothing properties of these nervine herbs are a refreshing way to take in a bit of calm.

Soothing Summer Tea:

•Lemon balm – 2-3 parts

•Peppermint – 1 part

•Spearmint – 1 part

•Rosemary – 1 part

•Catnip – .5 part

•Chamomile – .5-1 part

If making with fresh herbs in a large jar, go heavier on the lemon balm and mints and lighter on the other herbs. Also, if drinking this cold, it’s great with a slice or two of lime tossed in. It’s crisp, refreshing, calming, cooling, and supportive — mind and body relief!

Obviously mental health is a complex issue and each person’s medical and therapeutic needs are extremely different. Herbs won’t solve or prevent problems or fulfill all your needs, but they can be a wonderful ally as part of a daily holistic approach.

Which nervine herbs are your favorite mental health allies?

Categories
Hygge wheel of the year

Celebrate Ostara!

Spring is finally upon us, Herbologists! In the Northern Hemisphere, the vernal (spring) equinox and the sabbat of Ostara fall on March 20th (while it’s Mabon in the Southern Hemisphere). This is a time traditionally associated with rebirth, creativity, growth, renewal, planting seeds, new beginnings, and balance. Many of us feel a renewal of our creative energy (follow-through is another story in my case, though!) and we are inspired to begin gardens, clean the house, or begin new projects and routines.

Ostara / the spring equinox feels much more like the beginning of the new year than January 1st to me, and I know some traditions view it as such. As the earth begins to warm and come alive, our energy tends to rise and rhythms return to more activity and excitement. It’s certainly a busy time of year!

In honor of the changing of the season, I am going to share a few low energy Ostara / equinox activities I am planning, as well as some spring herbal tea recipes I’ve developed. Hopefully this helps spark a few cozy, simple ideas for you, too!

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Spring Simmer Pot

My kids enjoy a good seasonal simmer pot, so I am planning a spring-y one to mark the occasion. We’ll use ingredients like dried lavender, rose, eucalyptus, rosemary, and lemon to fill the house with a floral, herbal scent to welcome in spring. 

If you haven’t made a simmer pot before, it’s pretty simple: choose your ingredients (plants, flowers, fruits, spices, etc.), add to a pan on the stovetop and cover the ingredients with water, simmer as long as you like, and add more water as needed so it doesn’t dry out and burn. This will fill the house with a clean, sweet scent (in the case of these floral and spring-y herbs) and all the cozy spring vibes to put everyone in the spirit of the occasion.

Garden Planning

It is too soon where I live to begin planting this year’s garden yet, but my wildlings and I are all chomping at the bit to begin. So instead, I’m planning for us to discuss and begin planning our little container garden together. This will inevitably turn into an art project with my kiddos as they will want to illustrate their ideas! And perhaps we will start some seeds in the kitchen window sill, too. 

Spring Teas

Drinking seasonal teas is a wonderful way to literally welcome a new season in! On that note, I’m going to share a few of my favorite tea blend recipes in honor of the energies of Ostara and the spring equinox. Herbs can support us through this big transition in a big way!

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The first recipe I’m sharing is one I simply call Ostara Tea. It contains herbal allies for gentle warming, grounding, immune support, and a sense of peace and calm. 

Ostara Tea

1 part Chamomile

1 part Elderflower

1/2 part Ginger

1 part Green Rooibos

Citrus (peel / slices) – optional

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Next up is the Inspired Spring tea blend for calm creative energy. It combines herbs that help with stress, boost your brain function, and provide calm balance. In this season of new directions and new leaves, this can be a great ally!

Inspired Spring

1 part Tulsi

1 part Linden

1/2 part Fennel

1-2 parts Spearmint

1 part Ginkgo

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Finally, we have Springtime Sleepies, to help you wind down after a busy spring day so you can rebuild your energy reserves for the next day of springtime activities.

Springtime Sleepies

1 part Passionflower

2 parts Chamomile

1 part Rose

1/2 part Lavender

1/4 part Cardamom

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So, those are a few of the simple ways my family will be ushering in Ostara and spring! Do you mark the spring equinox? How do you like to celebrate this season?

Categories
Herbs and Herbalism

Herb Profile: Nettle

Hey there, Herbology Faeries! Since spring is almost here, I thought I’d share a new herb profile today about the herb I most associate with early spring: nettle.

Nettle, or stinging nettle, is a sign of early spring because in many places it flourishes during this time. Nettle is also a beneficial spring ally in aiding with seasonal allergies, nourishing and toning body systems after the winter, fighting inflammation, and much more. Folk traditions see nettle as a protective ally, helping with not only healing but also courage and banishing, and it’s not hard to see why when you encounter its prickles!

I know there are many who forage fresh nettles in the spring. There are many benefits to consuming local, fresh nettles. That said, not everyone has local nettles available or are not able to get out there and brave the stings to collect them fresh. That’s okay—high quality dried nettle can be purchased from small online apothecaries or Mountain Rose Herbs.

Nettle is a salty, slightly bitter, cooling and drying herb. It is nutrient dense, full of fiber, iron, calcium, and magnesium. Not only is nettle used to support allergies and to nourish the body, but it’s said to aid menstrual issues, eczema, fatigue, arthritis, and more. It’s a wonderful herb to consume daily as a holistic health aid for maintaining energy and health. The main safety considerations with nettles are the stings if you are working with fresh nettles (use gloves and blanch the leaves before consumption), and the diuretic effect the herb has—you might need to adjust your intake based on how strongly this affects you. 

I do drink nettle in tea—it goes well combined with herbs like mint and rose. I am also intrigued with the idea of using nettle as food! You see many instances of this online: nettle pesto, nettle soup, even dried nettle used in baking. I am experimenting with using nettle in homemade ramen recipes for a salty, mineral-y kick and added nutrition!

Here is a simple springtime tea recipe featuring nettle, to get you started with this wonderful ally!

Daily Nettle Boost:

• 1 part nettle

• 1 part tulsi

• 1 part peppermint

• 1/2 part rosemary

This can be hot-brewed by the cup if you prefer it in small doses. You can also hot or cold brew it in a larger batch in a glass jar. If cold brewing, the longer you let it brew, the more helpful constituents will be infused into your tea. I’ve run across some sources that say you should hot brew nettle and let it infuse for 4+ hours to reap the full benefits, but I prefer my nettle a bit weaker and more palatable than that—to keep me coming back to it! 

Have you tried nettles? How do you like to prepare them, or how do you think you would like to if you’re new to them?

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Sources:

• Rosalee de la Foret, Alchemy of Herbs

• Herb Mentor’s Stinging Nettle monographs 

• Sarah Farr, Healing Herbal Teas

Categories
Herbalism in Fiction Recipes Tea

Courage Tea

I just finished reading the third and fourth books in the Practical Magic series by Alice Hoffman, Magic Lessons and The Book of Magic. I do not exaggerate when I say these books have been life altering for me. They capture so much, I can’t even put a fraction of it into words. All I can say is, go read these magical books!

Now, a thread that runs through all the stories is courage: courage to love, courage to get hurt, courage to take leaps and trust others and trust yourself. This is illustrated throughout the books by the frequent mention of Courage Tea. It’s an old family recipe that dates back to the Owens women who started it all, Hannah and Maria. The recipe has been passed down through the centuries to bolster the Owenses in the face of all the trials and demands of life, as well as those in need they minister to.

Hints of the recipe are dropped throughout the series, but the whole recipe is never explicitly stated. As explained in The Rules of Magic:

Aunt Isabelle refused to hand over the formula for Courage Tea. That, she said, was one recipe you had to discover for yourself.”

Piecing together the hints and clues of the Courage Tea recipe from the books is actually a pretty fun scavenger hunt. I’ve spent a good deal of time on this exercise, and have filled in the blanks with my own additions as Aunt Isabelle instructed. I encourage you to do the same and come up with your own version if you read the books! But until then, here is my interpretation:

(A few notes on ingredients: I found dried currants at the grocery store. I use powdered vanilla bean in tea recipes because it is more affordable than whole vanilla beans while still imparting natural vanilla flavor; you can also add a dash of vanilla extract instead. You may want to adjust the thyme to taste based on how savory you like your tea to taste, as it can be quite strong. And, if you’d prefer a decaf version, you can leave out the green tea or replace it with rooibos.)

What would you put in your version of Courage Tea?