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May is one of my favorite months of the year. It's beautiful here in Richmond, Virginia this time of year. The breeze is slight and cool. The days seem longer. The humidity isn't quite here yet. The birds are all over - serenading at every corner. And our garden is having an absolute renaissance. May 1 is also my birthday, and I've spent almost the entire day on my porch soaking in the early spring dreamscape that presented today and listening to my favorite David Bowie albums. An ideal day is so many ways. It's perfect transition weather from cool to warm, from dark to light, from sleeping to waking. I've been craving more room temperature and cooling teas lately as the warmth starts to settle in more permanently. This month, my May Steep is a warm infusion left to cool, filled with invigorating and nourishing herbs that taste just like the spring breeze feels. Damiana, Hibiscus, Nettle, Mugwort & Lavender are the lucky ones this month. 

I've always loved the versatility of herbal tea. The strength and potency and steeping calculations and how technical it could all be, and also how forgiving a simple brew can be when you're feeling lazy and nonchalant about it's ingredients. Sipping an herbal tea brew is just pure magic, and this recipe is pretty forgiving. So much so I never even wrote a recipe down until I came to publish this post. I've been making this for days now, a little different every time, never measuring anything and I like the subtle differences in flavor from day to day. I've been throwing this together once I get to my office each day, varying the amounts of damiana and mugwort, really, depending on what I'm feeling like that morning. More damiana when I need more of a kick in the pants and am feeling a little sluggish. More Mugwort when I need more support with mental focus or have lots of cerebrally heavy (and focusing!) tasks that day. Mugwort is SO GOOD at helping me focus and keep to the task at hand...especially when they're tedious computer tasks (and it's a main ingredient in my Book Nook Tea just for that reason!). Hibiscus gives it a sweet, springy, colorful and vibrant flavor. Nettle adds the punch of minerals and nutrients, and lavender adds the subtle sweetness to offset the bitter of mugwort. Together, perfection. 

This recipe makes a month supply of tea. Brew yourself up a pint or two early in the day and sip all afternoon. Add a twist of lemon or extra dash of honey if you're like more zing or more sweetness.  If you don't have access to herbs locally, you can source them from Zack Woods Herb FarmMountain Rose HerbsStarwest Botanicals & Oregon's Wild Harvest. Joyous May wishes, everyone!

May Steep

20 grams Damiana
20 grams Hibiscus
10 grams Nettle Leaf
7 grams Mugwort
5 grams Lavender Flowers
3-4 cups filtered water
1 tsp Raw Honey
Makes 1 month supply

Blend all herbs together and store in an airtight glass container. When making a batch of infusion, add 1 heaping tablespoon to a 1 quart mason jar and cover with just warm, filtered water. Add 1-2 tsp raw honey to taste and a twist of lemon if desired. Stir well and let steep at least 10 minutes before straining out the herbs. Drink immediately, or let cool and drink throughout the day. 

 


For the first time in my life, I had been having trouble staying asleep. Since mid November, I found myself most nights of the week waking up stricken with panic, fear and dread - the heaviest and most gloomy doomsday feelings of dread as if they were leaping out of my dreams and lingering in my conscious emotions like a suffocating blanket. Everything seems so much more tangible when it's nighttime and you have all of that still, quiet space to make your thoughts feel even more real. By morning, those feelings would invariably fade away, but still resurface every time I was caught off guard by a news headline...So with the coming of March, I have continued to rely on my tried and true herbal allies to support my heart space, calm my nerves and soothe my panic stricken monkey mind. Chamomile, linden, motherwort, lavender & peppermint have been doing the trick for the past 2 months, and this March Steep has been a regular part of my nighttime routine, working their magic to keep me asleep (and calm), all night long. 



I've spoken about the calming, soothing nature of Chamomile before, and it blends beautifully with the aroma of peppermint as a perfect nighttime (and after dinner!) digestive soothing tea, but also soothes the mind and central nervous system as well. Linden and Motherwort have such a strong affinity for the heart space and are powerful cardiovascular tonics. Linden is sweet, slightly astringent and a little bit aromatically fruity and is a fantastic relaxing nervine to ease you into peaceful dreaming. Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) as it's name suggests relaxes the heart and is soothing to the mind and cardiovascular system, being "negatively chronotropic" (slows the heart rate). Motherwort is bitter though, and needs a sweet aromatic partner for a good tea, hence the addition of sweet little lavender. Meant to be, those two. 







Per my nighttime ritual, I brew up a pot or mug of this every single night and sip on it for at east an hour before bedtime. The aroma of this warm, blissful blend is such a comfort, and has improved my quality of sleep like magic. But, I suppose that's what herbs are - magical comforts enchanting the body and nourishing the soul...

March Steep

1 tsp Chamomile
1/2 tsp Linden
1/2 tsp Motherwort
1/2 tsp Peppermint
1/2 tsp Lavender
Serves 1

Combine all herbs in a small bowl and then add to a tea steeper. Let steep in 2 cups hot water for 10 minutes, covered. Strain and sip consciously 1 hour before bedtime.

 



February...the shortest yet seemingly longest month of the year So cold. So dark. So sleepy. February is like the month of the home stretch, when the last bitter cold days of winter finally end, and spring is oh, so close. In my February Steep, I crave lightness, and flavor and bright cups of color. I fight off stagnation (both mentally and physically) and need an extra burst of motivation almost every day to get me one day closer to spring. I want to sip the flavors of spring and smell the earthy sweetness of things just about to sprout. I want quiet tea moments with simple, cheerful herbs. Dandelion root, rose petals, peppermint & orange peel every day, from now until the month when we herald in the first days of spring...


This month is simple for tea, and I'm doing a little something I often like to do with herbal preparation: Decoctions + Infusions. It may seem like just one more step, but once you've done it once or twice it's cake. Hardier parts of herbs (like roots, rhizomes, barks or stems) require a little more than just a simple little steep to get all the good medicinals out of them. They need a decoction preparation, which means you simmer those hardier parts in water for about 10-15 minutes. On the other hand, more delicate parts of herbs, such as flowers, petals, seeds or leaves do just fine with a gentle, normal steep. When I blend the two methods together it's not only usually delicious, but extra medicinal because taking the time to make tea this way is totally worth it






February Steep

1.5 cups filtered water
1 tsp dried or fresh orange peel
1 tsp dandelion root
1/2 tsp dried rose petals
1/2 tsp peppermint leaves

Combine water, orange peel and dandelion root in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cover, and let simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, and add the rose petals and peppermint leaves. Give it a stir and let sit, covered, for 7 minutes. Remove lid and strain into your favorite mug and sip consciously. 

 

Where to find it: I often purchase dried herbs (when not locally available) from Mountain Rose Herbs, Avena Botanicals, Zack Woods Herb Farm or Starwest Botanicals

HELLO, I’M LINDSAY.
Herbal medicine and nutrition is my expertise. Understanding plants, their properties, and their powers is my passion.

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