Lemon & Tulsi Iced tea


Summer is strongly associated with citrus, especially lemon. Adorable children selling lemonade for 25cents at the bottom of their driveway, sharing a lemon italian ice purchased from a push-cart off the sidewalk, all the creative, scented lemonades that appear during summer bbqs, these all play an important role in summertime. Strangely enough citrus is ripe in winter and that is the last time of year we need to be consuming something so intrinsically cooling. My star cooling herbs for warm weather are citrus (lemon specifically), hibiscus, rose, and mint. When you consume herbs that are either cooling or warming it doesn't only work for external feelings of warmth/coldness but also internal. Cooling herbs really help with internal discomforts such as hot inflammation, spasms, anxiety, digestive heat, tension, etc. Cooling herbs also slow down. You know that feeling you get after you come inside dripping sweat from summer heat, pour a glass of lemonade, and take a big gulp? Almost immediately after you feel it circulate through your body, you sigh in relief... yeah that feeling is the cooling herb helping your body to slow down/calm down. 

Tulsi, other than being fabulously delicious, is another great herb to be adding into your diet regularly. I wrote a little more on tulsi in this posting. It pairs well here for reducing anxiety/stress, since those are heat creating disturbances. 

The first time I had a lemon tulsi pairing was from a bottled honest tea and boy, did they have the combo right. Thanks honest tea :).

Recipe (For 1/2 gallon)

Water - to fill a 1/2 gallon pitcher

Lemon - 1 lemons

Dried lemon peel - 2tsp

Tulsi - 4TB (dried) 

Honey - 4TB (add more or less depending on desired sweetness)

Bring water to a boil. After it boils, let it cool for 2 minutes and then add it into the pitcher with the tulsi and dried lemon peel. Then cut the lemon in half and squeeze in the juice. Leave the lemon halves in the water to steep. Let steep for 30 minutes. Strain the tea and discard the spent tulsi/lemon. Stir in the honey until dissolved. Place in the refrigerator and then serve once cool. Stays good in the refrigerator for 1 week. 


Chaga chai

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If I'm trying to cut back on caffeine, this is one of my "go tos" to cure that coffee craving or chai craving. Interestingly enough, chaga can be prepared in a way that tastes similar to coffee or chai. Strange right? Shall I tell you more? Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) is actually a mushroom that is dried and typically sold in granules you boil to make tea. I know what you must be thinking. A mushroom?! In a tea? Yes, and I promise it is packed with tons of good-for-you-ness and deliciousness. Chaga grows on primarily birch trees as a parasite taking nutrients from the tree for itself. It kind of looks like a burned stump when you see it on the tree, you first reaction is definitely not, "hey, I wanna drink that!" The parasite enters the tree through a wound and the fungus will mature in about 5-7 (sometimes up to 20!) years and fall off, sometimes killing the tree in the process. 

You can purchase chaga online (I get mine from Mountain Rose Herbs) and you really should, it is such a great tea filled with good sources of riboflavin, niacin, copper, calcium, potassium, manganese, zinc, iron, melanin, and immune supporting properties. It also contains a dense source of an enzyme called superoxide dismutase (SOD) which basically halts oxidation. This means that it fights free radicals, those things that lead to aging, damage tissues, and free radicals can cause tumors/cancer. Another benefit is that chaga is a great adaptogen. I will talk about adaptogens here soon in more detail and why you should add them into your daily diet. Adaptogens basically help your body adapt to stress via your adrenals. Stress is one of the largest health problems we face and taking adaptogens regularly gives your body the ability to prevent the harm that stress will cause. The Chinese gave this fungus the well deserved title as "The King of the Herbs." I promise you won't regret making this following recipe. Chaga also can be prepared as more of a coffee by just boiling the Chaga in water about 10 minutes, until it is the deep color of coffee.

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*As it happens, I sat down last night to look over a spring journal from United Plant Savers that I get in the mail. The organization is a non-profit that is dedicated to preserving native medicinal plants. There happened to be an article inside written on chaga about considering the commercial future of chaga. The author had received some chaga chai from someone.. and I was like what, what?! I learned about chaga when a classmate brought some chaga to my herbalism class. Later I bought some and after drinking it plain a few times, I thought it would make a great chai. Turns out other people have come to the same conclusion.

Since chaga takes a considerable time to mature, wild chaga can quickly be over-harvested and will become endangered or extinct. Of course chaga is in not in danger now, there is plenty, and the market for sustainably cultivated chaga looks good in the future. Chaga could easily become one of the crazes where everyone wants it and it could become over-harvested and marketed into capsules, powders, and other products for its anti-tumor, anti-oxidant, anti-viral qualities and even could be marketed in beauty products. I do think if you are interested and want to have something healthy around to replace those times when you want caffeine but don't need it, chaga is a great solution because you get all those extra health benefits. Also, I recommend it if you are more curious about the herbal world and tea-drinking, there are great medicinal mushrooms to explore in that realm. Just be knowledgable about the resources you are using in the future to get your medicinal plants. You want to be aware of the availability of the plant and always buy from responsible, ethical, sustainable, preferably organic sources.

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Recipe for the Chaga Chai! (Makes a good cup)

Chaga - Heaped 1TB

Cardamom pods - 5-6pod slightly crushed

Fresh ginger - 1-2tsp minced

Cloves - 4, tops crushed into the pot

Cinnamon stick - 1 whole stick or 1/2 (depends on your likeness of cinnamon)

Peppercorn - 5 kernels

Optional - a few fennel seeds and rose petals

Dairy or not - I use almond milk but used anything, milk, soy, hemp, rice, etc.

Honey or agave - I use a scant 2tsp honey but adjust depending on taste.

Directions: Fill up your favorite mug halfway with water. Add this water into a small saucepan and turn onto medium heat. Add in all your spices (except the milk and honey). Bring the pot to a boil and once boiling, keep it at a low boil for at least 5 minutes, ideally 7-10minutes. Turn off the heat and after 2 minutes stir in the honey until it is dissolved. Fill up your mug half-way again with the milk and then pour it into the pot.  Turn the heat back on until the drink is warmed back up and just about to simmer. Watch VERY carefully because milk and non-milk boils very easily. Once warm, pour drink through a strainer into your mug. Enjoy. This drink is amazing. You are welcome. 

Additional sources taken from united plant savers & chagaknowledge.


Stomach bug tea


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Last monday night I was having trouble sleeping. I kept waking up with stomach pain but I would ignore it and soon fall asleep again. I finally got up at 6am on Tuesday and it was not good. I wanted to gouge my stomach out and toss it aside to save myself what was coming. You know that feeling, that terrible stomach turning/having to go to the bathroom a lot illness. I've rarely ever had it but I hate it, so does everyone, its rather embarrassing. As soon as I could I went to my cabinet to see what herbs I had on hand to save me. I had herbalism class that day in 3 hours and didn't want to go feeling awful and having to run the bathroom every 30 minutes. Plus, we were driving down to NC after class... oh please no; not 5 hours in a car with this! It's not pretty. So I needed a cure. I pulled out echinacea, spearmint, a cinnamon stick, licorice root, fresh ginger, red raspberry leaf, and yarrow. If I had some nettles, I would have definitely thrown those in there too for good measure. I made a quart of a strong infusion by steeping the herbs while covered for 1 hour. Over the next hour I drank it and felt my stomach settling and the pain cramps stopping. Plus, it was super tasty, I want it even when I am not sick. Like, right now. 

So the low down on this blend? I figure digestion, I really need to ease and help my digestive track... it is going through a lot. The mint, cinnamon, licorice and fresh ginger are great carminatives (digestives) and definitely contributed to the tastiness. These carminatives also help decrease inflammation in the digestive track. Licorice is also anti-viral and I wasn't exactly sure what was going on down there but it was either a virus or bacteria. Echinacea, as you well know (I'm sure) is a great tea for illnesses, especially at the onset of symptoms. Perfect for boosting the immune system and it is anti-microbial. Red raspberry leaf is widely used in women and pregnant women but it has wonderful astringent properties, making it able to treat diarrhea... which is a cruelty of the stomach bug. It also is quite nutrient rich to help replenish what you are loosing. Yarrow is another nutrient rich tea to build your body back up. It is antiseptic to flight bacteria, anti-inflammatory, and also astringent to help with diarrhea.

I really am impressed and happy over how fast and well this tea worked. I had no issues after about 30mins-1hour after drinking several cups of this tea. I really recommend it. I know this seems like a lot of ingredients but building up a basic stock of herbs to keep in your home is great, you'll find so many uses for them and learn a lot. Plus, dried herbs last a long time, you don't have to worry about them going to waste. 

Recipe (makes 4 cups - a medicinal daily does for 1 person)

4 cups water

Echinacea - 1TB

Licorice - a few pieces of licorice root (2tsp)

Cinnamon stick - 1

Ginger - fresh minced root (1-2tsp)

Spearmint - 1tsp

Red raspberry leaf - 1TB

Yarrow - 2tsp

Add the water and herbs into a pot, cover, and heat up to a low simmer. Turn off the heat and let infuse for 1 hour (if you can, 15-20 minutes at the least). Strain out, reheat to desired temperature, and sweeten with honey if desired. Although, this tea is really tasty and sweet without adding anything. Sorry for just these two simple photos... at the time I wasn't concerned with a photo, just feeling better. So I came back later to take these.


Sage and Jasmine Pu-erh tea



I've always had a strong attraction to sage, but I'm sure we all do. It is a powerful herb with magical allure surrounding it. Sage (salvia) is derived from a latin root meaning "to heal." Romans adored this herb and used it in a wide range of forms such as infusing it in hot bathwater to relieve sore muscles and tired feet, as an elixir of long life, and a cure to a long list of illnesses. It was considered a heal-all. Sage has a rich history dating back not only to the Romans but plays a significant role in a story about the Virgin Mary in the Bible. Mary declared sage as the favorite flower of mankind and it was forever known as a protector and a source of long life after it concealed Mary and baby Jesus from King Herod's mercenaries as they fled Judea. After she was turned away by both a rose and a clove bush, sage accepted her and bloomed to provided a canopy of thick coverage to hid Mary; one of its first uses for protection. I find it appropriate that sage should have a long history to correlate with its long-life giving properties. There is an English proverb saying that if you eat sage everyday in May, you will live forever. 

Sage was valued by the Native Americans as a plant to cleanse, purify, protect, and cast away evil spirits and influences. It was burned to clear spaces, homes and ceremonies in an act known as "smudging." Sage was even worn around the neck packed in a horn for protection. It is amazing to me that this Native American use of sage for protection is the same conclusion and use for sage in the story about Mary. In the flower language sage signifies wisdom, long life, and good health. Sage apparently has an affinity for women. It is said that if sage grows abundantly, then the house is ruled by a women. It is also said it grows abundantly where there is prosperity in a household or business. Maybe try planting some outside your door or office to bring a little extra prosperity. 


There is a long ranging use of sage; internally, externally, or through aromatherapy but it should be used with caution in pregnant women. It can excite the womb and lead to early conception. Sage is antibacterial, antiviral, suppresses perspiration, antifungal, antiseptic, antispasmodic, stimulant, carminative (digestion), astringent, and an aphrodisiac  It also can bring out more alcohol in beverages and increase intoxication. Sage is used often for memory and mental exhaustion. There are some cases of use to treat Alzheimer's but in general it is a great tea to consume when you need that extra mental boost for concentration and memory. Study for an exam with sage tea all week! It is also a fabulous digestive herb, for relieving upset stomachs due to poor/slow digestion, bloating, and gas. Sip on a mug before 20 minutes and/or after a meal. In tea form it also helps ease and break up phlegm in the throat/lungs from a cold, as well as attack the bacteria or virus causing it. It is also used in some forms to help treat laryngitis, sore throats and gum issues. There has also been some use of sage for vertigo.

This tea is enjoyable and tasty for when you need a little energy and help with concentration. It is great sweetened with a little honey. Pu-erh is a woodsy tasting tea that is rich and bold. Pu-erh is an aged tea and I find the flavor to be strong, which is why I did not add too much here to balace the strength of the sage. 

Makes 1 pitcher (2/3 big mugs)

A good 2-3TB of sage

1TB of Jasmine Pu-erh or another tea like a green tea, jasmine, or a soft black tea.

Heat up a kettle of water, pour (slightly cooled) boiling water over the tea in a pitcher or tea pot. Cover. Let steep about five minutes and then pour into mugs over a strainer. Make your own tea ritual - my process doesn't have to be yours. Use tea bags instead if you like.  Sweeten with honey.


Tulsi and Rose



I've been posting on here for almost the past week with recipes and little snippets here, a touch of history there, maybe a mention about my life but really, without saying very much outside the post topics. I guess I was just trying to get some information up on here to give you several things to look at rather than me, you know, just talking about myself. But this is tea. Tea is my calming, collecting, balancing ritual that, with any luck, I do several times a day. And do I ever need calming, collecting, and balancing right now. Sometimes as I sit with a cup of tea I just temporarily live in the moment of "it doesn't matter, I have tea" and look down happily at my full mug. As I keep sipping and the tea dwindles from the cup, reality comes back and I know I have to start addressing things once that last sip goes. In August Ty (my boyfriend) and I moved away from Athens, GA, a place we both loved to Charlottesville, VA. Ty was starting his first year in graduate school and I was freshly graduated from undergrad and wanted a new experience and to figure things out as I went. After getting my degree in a design major and reflecting on the exhaustive amount of time and stress it took me (no matter how much I love the subject) I felt like purging myself from all things related. Being free from all of it was like skinny-dipping for the first time.. you keep looking over your shoulder, afraid to get caught. Like one last project or presentation was going to pull up in a cop car and bite me in the naked moon. But I got away with it.

Moving to Charlottesville I decided to fill my time with a bunch of things, right away, I was in a new place with all this time and wanted to do everything and anything but get my first traditional landscape architecture job. I started working in a bakery since I love it, needed money, and I worked in a bakery/coffee shop all through college and it was my second home. I enrolled in an 6-month herbalism course, which I have always wanted to do, drink tea, make medicine, and learn. Then I got an internship at the Center for Historic Plants at Monticello, meeting lovely people and playing with plants, what could be better? I was sure that doing a variety of things would give me clarity on what I wanted to do with my life and maybe it has helped. After about 6 months my internship ended and I left my job at the bakery with ideas about opening a food cart but after a few forward strides, and a few more leaps backwards, that faded too. I am stuck in these huge swaying differences of opinions about my life, worried that I am potentially making the wrong move. I have equal love for several passions and that is ripping me in several directions. I wish I could just grab them all as easily as cake ingredients, throw them in a kitchen-aid, pop it in the oven and present it to you; frosted. But right now, I can't, I'm just living. Right now, I drink tea and think. 


Tulsi and Rose tea is quickly become one of my favorite teas. A friend in my herbalism course mentioned that he was drinking tulsi and rose in the mornings instead of coffee and this blend has stuck for me. Personally, I do not choose it in the mornings but for whenever I want something that melts the stress, gives you clarity and rubs you with a strong, loving energy. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. 

Tulsi, also known as Holy Basil, is a sacred plant to the Hindus and in sanskrit it translates to "the incomparable one." I am told that it is grown all over India, most homes have a tulsi plant growing for protection. Tulsi will do many things for the body but in this blend it is chosen as a tea to reduce anxiety and stress. I chose roses because they are very connected to your heart. Drinking rose tea soothes your heart as well as your emotions. It also helps to quiet and balance your mind while  having an uplifting, cooling affect. This is tasty and aromatic, just a scent of it will make you feel better, I promise. I made another posting about rose here, if you'd like to to the origin of rose and its uses. I happen to have some rosehip syrup in my refrigeration from a little while back. I made this from steeping rosehips in water and then dissolving in honey or sugar. I pour a little spoonful into the tea but it is great unsweet or with a little honey.


To make 2 large cups

2TB Tulsi

2TB Rose petals.

Heat water to boil and add tea into a tea pot or pitcher. After water boils let cool for about 1 minute and then pour over tea. Let infuse for 5 minutes and then pour into cups through a strainer. Sweeten if desired. Relax.

I choose to get a lot of my tea/herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs (including tulsi and rose) but you can find bags of tulsi at your local health food store, whole foods, or earthfare.

"The sun should be a giver of happiness, the sky should be a giver of happiness, all trees and plants should be givers of happiness. All these should give us peace of mind ( shanti ) and even the peace should give us peace." - Rigveda