I drink a lot of herbal tea.
I have since I was a child. In my younger, more flippant years, it was mainly when I had a cold, or needed some calming sleepy time tea, or just felt like doing something “old-timey”that I would drink herbal tea. As I got older, I would reach for herbal tea to feel more nurtured (because what mom would do is always the right thing). I couldn’t help but notice that herbal tea actually did things to my body that other things couldn’t – like calm me down, or wake me up, or help me out with stress, or soothe my throat when it was sore. My awareness progressed leaps and bounds when I went to graduate school, and we really had to develop relationships with not only the herbs we used compounding for others, but how they affected us individually. The art of blending tea and ingesting it became intoxicating and magical. As my apothecary grew and my experience widened, I found that blending and drinking tea was something I craved; Something that really grounded me spiritually and physically and emotionally. The ritual surrounding herbal tea is so engrained in my daily life now that I can’t help but feel even more connected to my ancestors and unacquainted cultures who also share this love and ritual when I partake myself.
There is something deeply empowering about tea blending and tea drinking. When I think of the traditional Japanese tea ceremony my heart just fills with joy knowing that so many people find peace and ritual with others around such a medicinal plant source. When I think of a traditional cocoa ceremony, I think of the connectedness of friends and strangers that ingest the same potent plants to bridge foreign minds. Nothing comes between the Brits and their tea time. This is essential chit chat, catching up on the world friend time. In America, though, we don’t really have this ritual, and if we do “meet for tea” its usually in a to-go cup so we can rush back to work. American’s…we get it so backwards.
Here’s the bottom line about the magic of tea blending and tea drinking: When you take the time to become aware and notice what your body needs, you prioritize your time to make your body a better place. Herbs are so powerful and medicinal. Once you get to know a few herbs here and there, you’ll find that when your body speaks to you in whispers (a headache here, a little stomach ache there, etc), you’ll know what herbs will be your ally to support you during that upset. You can whip together a special tea blend to suit just what your body needs, and you’ll take the time blend it consciously, smelling and feeling the texture of every herb. You’ll measure out a fragrant, colorful scoop and let it steep in the freshly brewed water and let the sweet aromas of herbal goodness wash over you while it’s steeping by your favorite chair. You’ll practically be forced to sit down and enjoy a cup of your delicious tea while it nourishes and supports your body’s organ systems.
For now, start with making herbal tea a ritualistic part of your day. Try an herbal tea of your choice (I really love Traditional Medicinals, Gaia herbs or Mountain Rose herbal teas) and find a sacred and peaceful spot to enjoy it. Maybe in your favorite chair curled up with a book or your cat, or sip while taking a long, relaxing bath, or even while you’re up in bed, about to drift off to sleep. I usually enjoy my herbal tea during my morning ritual (after breakfast or before my yoga practice). Sip consciously and slowly, and really start to get to know these new flavors. Notice how you’re feeling before and after drinking. What has changed or shifted? Do you feel less tense or less foggy-brained? Has your digestion gotten better or your productivity increased? This is how you start to find your herbal allies!
If you’ve never blended your own tea before, not to worry! You can purchase loose/bulk herbs from your local health food store or order them from Mountain Rose Herbs, Frontier Co-op, or Banyan Botanicals. I will be posting more detailed tea blending information in future posts very soon, so stay tuned for extra herbal tea blending info!