Posted by Lindsay Kluge on Saturday, November 10, 2018

Tea blending is a totally magical process. Fewer things make me feel more in control of my own health and wellness than being able to intuitively blend my own herbal teas. And fewer things make my kitchen space feel more “potions class” than my apothecary nooks. When you start to create your own apothecary at home, you’ll start to gravitate towards those herbs you’re reaching for or craving regularly. These may change seasonally and that’s absolutely appropriate, and you may also have those tried and true herbal allies that are always present in your daily tonics routine. 

Read More: Creating an Herbal Apothecary At Home

Intuitive tea blending starts with the practice of sipping things slowly and consciously. Of really getting to know the flavors and personality types of the herbs you’re gravitating towards. This may sound obvious, but it’s a time consuming practice that basically just takes devoted time to get to know your herbs. That’s part one. Part two is getting to know your own body more intimately. Herbal tea blending can be exquisitely matched to your body’s needs at any time. You’ll just need to practice tuning into your body each day, asking what it needs, and then trusting your intuition to choose the best herbs to take care of that part of your body. 

For example, if you wake up one day and you notice you’re feeling unusually tired or fatigued, maybe you have a subtle headache and you’re feeling sluggish and a little grumpy – stop and pause. Take a quiet breath and notice calmly what areas of the body are you feeling the most. The headache….The fatigue…heavy skeletal system. Maybe your lower back is drawing your attention. Do these symptoms make you feel stressed? Or frustrated? Or anxious because “you just don’t have time to be tired today!“? Ask yourself what you need. This may look like “I need nourishing, building energy and a cooling, opening sensation for my head”. When we’re tired, our body is depleted. We need to be built up sustainably (not with quick caffeine shots). When our head hurts, our blood flow may be constricted (or we’re dehydrated), and we need cerebral opening and blood flow support. I’d be reaching for a nutritive herb for building mineral support, a cooling aromatic herb for headache support, and an adaptogenic herb for sustainable energy / adrenal support. This might look like nettle + spearmint/peppermint + holy basil. 

Read more: Creating a Care Plan for Yourself

Practice for you: Choose your favorite herbal tea. This can be something you’ve created yourself, or a favorite tea blend from someone else. To begin, try a tea with at least 2 herbs in the formula (and give it a good sniff – make sure this tea’s aromatics resonates with you in that moment). Brew a cup to that teas specifications, and then just devote some time, maybe just 20 minutes, to the act of sipping consciously. Find a nook, and sit all cozied up with your mug of choice. Note the flavors, the aromatics, the astringency, the energetics (is it warming? cooling? sweet and stimulating or savory and calming? etc), and most importantly, how does it feel in your body? What do you notice before, during and after the tea experience. Herbs work subtly, and it takes some time to really feel their impact on your whole body and mind. Later that day, choose one of the herbs from that formula and try that herb in a tea all by itself. Get to know that flavor and energetic quality of that single herb. Notice the subtle difference of that herb alone vs in a formula. One by one you can try each herb in your favorite formula, and this is a great practice for getting to know herbs intuitively so you know what to reach for when you want to intuitively blend up a new formula everyday. 

If you need resources on where to find single dried herbs, check out your local health food store’s bulk department, or you can order them from Zack Woods Herb Farm / Starwest Botanicals / Mountain Rose Herbs

To re-cap: 

1) Check in with your body daily. Where is your body asking for support? 

2) Choose your herbal actions (building adaptogen? nutritive mineral rich? calming nervine? cooling and opening? etc) You can learn more about this in the link below – Guide to Herbal Formulating. 

3) Smell each herb deeply and make sure they’re what you’re craving in that moment. Tea is a sensory experience! 

4) Blend in equal portions (approximately a scant 1/2 teaspoon per herb or a little less) for 10oz liquid. 

5) Sip consciously and slowly for at east 20 minutes, noticing the flavors, energies and whole body effects before, during and after consuming. 

And keep notes! Start a guided herbal journal to keep memories and thoughts on your herbal experiences for each herb!

Read more: Guide to Herbal Formulating

Learn more: Becoming an Herbalist FREE Mini Course / Introductory Herbal Course

Inspired: Becoming an Herbalist Inspiration Board

Photos by Renee Byrd

Posted by Lindsay Kluge on Friday, October 26, 2018

This past weekend, I scooped up my foraging gear and loaded the pup in the car and took off on a long autumnal hike in the October Blue Ridge of Virginia. It’s been some months since I’ve gotten myself outside on a slow and unhurried hike by myself. I’ve had a lot on my plate this year, and even when I had the time to take, I chose not to…for whatever reason. I forget sometimes, that getting myself outside in my woodsy element is what my heart and soul needs basically all the time. As it happens for many of us, life can throw a very heavy cloud over our creative landscape, and it’s easy (and sometimes appropriate) to curl up and weather through the storm for a little while. But on Saturday, I received something in the mail that just completely sparked my creative juices and set my heart a flutter. I received my Gather Foraging Journal from Timber Press, and as soon as I opened up this gloriously beautiful illustrated journal, I couldn’t get in the car fast enough to head outside.

I had been waiting for this journal for weeks, from the moment I heard it was being released from the small Portland OR based publishing company, Timber Press. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it, and once it arrived it was even more stunning than I imagined. Maggie Enterrios thoughtfully illustrated these gorgeous botanical drawings on every page to keep field notes on what you’re foraging and finding and making in the woods, or fields, or mountains or by the side of the road. As I was flipping through the pages yet to be filled in with my foraged treasures, it felt like my dormant fairy magical energy came coursing through my veins. It was just the unique spark of creativity I needed to shake the clouds off and explore and begin filling my foraging books again.

Gromit and I took to a waterfall and stream filled hike just off the blue ridge parkway. I packed my little herb shears and my pens and colored pencils and a few of my plant ID books (along with trails snacks and a thermos of reishi coffee, of course) and set off, without any time limits or goals really. Just to go slowly and see what we find. In October, things begin to go to sleep and the ground is covered in a crunchy autumnal mess of leafy puzzle pieces. Moss and vine creepers covered most of the ground, but thanks to the constant rains here the past several days there was no shortage of mushrooms. The colors now are just amazing. And we wandered along leisurely, stopping and sitting and taking deep breaths and inhaling in that intoxicating new fall smell of decomposing leaves and moist soil and a hint of woodsmoke.

Why do we so often deny ourselves the practices that we know nourish us and instead stay cooped up in creative ruts in the slog of sticky thoughts? When I get out in the woods, especially in the fall, it’s like my eyes and perception of things feels a hundred times wider. My senses are activated and cleared and the stagnation of heavy thought patterns just dissipate like clouds after a long storm. Things feel brighter, and bigger, and more approachable. Writing slows the thoughts, and paying attention to the details of things sharpens my concentration (that can feel like a jumping bean most times). Starting the practice of journaling through what I’m gathering moving forward feels adventurous and very correct. In my pack, this sweet little journal will live daily, and be my companion tool to sustain my creative thoughts…and keep me paying attention to the details of slow moving things.

Huge thanks to Timber Press for gifting me this beautiful Gather Foraging Journal.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018
Thursday, September 13, 2018
Monday, September 3, 2018
Wednesday, August 8, 2018
Monday, July 23, 2018
Friday, June 29, 2018

Summer Lunar Infusion

By Lindsay Kluge

Sunday, June 24, 2018
Thursday, May 31, 2018