Tea Time (and brewing and blending the perfect tea)

Tea has been a long standing tradition in every culture around the world.  Many times the teas were medicinal, other times sacred.  Mostly shared in moments of friendship or sometimes as a break from the day.  From Japanese tea ceremonies to 4:00 tea time, tea is a lovely custom.

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Despite my family being on American soil for three to four hundred years now, our European DNA hasn’t altered much.  For me, 4:00 and 8:00 are automatically timed within me to make a spot of tea.  Sharing tea is wonderful if I have someone over.  My mother always drinks tea in lovely tea cups throughout the day.  I do as well.  My daughters followed suit.  The cup is important.  Drinks taste different in varying cups and always taste better shared.

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This is my new tea set.  I love Japanese gardens and I adore ponds of koi.  This sweet set reminds me of our travels to gardens and it reminds me to take a moment to breathe.  In this set, you put the loose tea in the pot, let steep, then pour through the strainer into the pitcher and serve in tiny cups.  This tea pot calls for Genmaicha tea.  It is a fragrant green tea with toasted rice.

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I was given my first tea set when I was ten years old for Christmas from my Grandma and Grandpa.  A miniature tea set with espresso-sized cups with pink rose buds.  I had a Tuesday Tea Party where I was allowed to invite a friend over and my mother made us tea with real sugar cubes and small snacks.

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One of my favorite teas is a good black tea like Earl Grey or Assam, with agave and cream.  Or maybe brewed with honey and orange peel instead.

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Use 1 teaspoon of loose tea per cup of near boiling water and steep for 4 minutes.  You can use dried herbs like mint, roses, or yarrow.  I grow my own jasmine as a houseplant and it is lovely as tea.  Combine herbs and teas and enjoy to your heart’s content.  Tea is low in caffeine, filled with antioxidants and health benefits, and is good for the spirit.  It makes you slow down, breathe, and take a moment to be present.

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Three Autumn Medicinal Herbs to Harvest Now

20170929_113435This year I was able to harvest over thirty different medicinal herbs from my gardens.  There are three of them right now that would serve you well for the winter if you can find them, and if not, plant some next year!

20170929_114035The first one is Burdock.  There are three kinds of docks; yellow dock that grows in the marshes and on the sides of roads.  Curly dock is the same, it loves willow trees.  I have some popping up in my yard unexpectedly.  Then there is burdock.  They will all work the same.  Burdock has those annoying round burrs.  I harvested mine before their growth.  I planted seeds in the spring and had a beautiful crop.  The roots won’t let you pull them completely which assures that you will have some more next year.  Perennials are a beautiful thing and this perennial could save your life.

Docks have pretty amazing blood cleansing abilities.  They are used to detoxify the body and to kill cancer.  Their long tap roots are eaten in many cultures.  Just chop them up like carrots or parsnips.  They are also available in the health food store at times in the produce section.

The leaves of the burdock are green which tells us that it is specific to organs as well.  They are very nutritious and will make a lovely tea to help cleanse the liver, gallbladder, and kidneys as well as the entire lymphatic system.  I dried mine in a large box because they were so huge.

You can add both leaves and roots to a canning jar with rum, vodka, brandy, etc. and let brew for four weeks but don’t strain it as you want it as strong as possible.  Put one teaspoon in a shot glass of orange juice to take in the mornings as an immunity booster and preventative.  Enjoy the tea with other green herbs like mint and lemon verbena.

20171017_171507Rose Hips contain the highest amount of Vitamin C of any fruit and are specific to Arthritis and as an anti-inflammatory.  They contain anthocyanins for heart health and the prevention of cancers.  We harvested a lot of roses off of nearly-hundred-year old bushes during the year.  I always leave some of the roses.  One, they look beautiful, and two, they will produce hips which contain their seeds and are a delicious fruit.  These can be dried in paper bags and used in extracts or teas.  Or for fun they make a lovely jelly or liqueur.  They take down swelling quickly and taste delicious.

The third medicinal plant is the humble onion.  The onion contains over 150 phytochemicals, quercetin (anti-inflammatory and pain reliever), and saponin (soap to help clean the organs and blood) and is anti-viral, anti-biotic, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-yeast, and kills the flu quick.  Forget chicken soup, if the household is coming down with colds or flu make French onion soup with lots of onions and garlic!

These three autumn plants will keep you healthy, strong, and feeling your best to take on the winter days ahead.

If you prefer to use plant medicines already made you can do so by ordering from my website http://whitewolfherbs.com.  My daughter and I handcraft powerful medicines that we know will work!  You can find the burdock in our Detox and rose hips in our Arthritis.  Thanks for supporting traditional herbalists!

Tree Medicine (how to decoct pain medicine)

My husband and I are reading Outlander by Diana Gabaldon together.  It has been recommended to me no less than a dozen times.  With our love of history, Celts, and plant medicines, it is no wonder.  We are enjoying it immensely.  However, I did find an error on page 116.

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It states that willow bark has salicylic acid in it which aspirin contains.  Wrong.  Willow bark contains salicin.  There’s not a smidge of willow left in aspirin.  When a plant cannot be patented (therefore not much money made) researchers, scientists, and the like take it to a lab to isolate the constituent that they feel is the reason it works.  Once you isolate a derivative you have a lab created version of the plant.  This happens in about every case of pharmaceuticals.  I know we have romanticized the idea of taking plants from the rainforest for their cancer fighting abilities.  You see, the problem is though, that if you change the constituent, you change the entire identity and spirit of the plant.  In short, you get side effects.  The plant in its natural state is the only way to obtain complete healing.  Salicylic acid is the lab created version of willow.  It causes stomach problems and bleeding issues but salicin does not.  There are no side effects to willow or the other trees that contain salicin. They are perfect medicine.

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Anyways, off my podium.  We were hiking around beautiful lagoons yesterday.  My goodness it was a lovely day.  Not a soul around.  The sky blue like autumn, no clouds, the sea was a color that I have never seen.  Much like the Caribbean sea but with deep hints of celadon.  The breeze was warm and inviting as we crossed the shale to the water.  There in the water stood, with their feet gaily drenched, cottonwoods enjoying the warm day.  A branch had just recently been sawed off, for the pulp shavings of the branch were still fresh and I gathered them into my sweater.  Cottonwood is also an analgesic, like its friends the willow and poplar.

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When gathering wood for medicine a downed branch is always nice because you are not affecting the tree at all.  Simply pull the outer layer off with a knife until you get to the pulp.  Shave this onto a blanket.  You will reach the impenetrable core which can be used as firewood.  The shavings can be prepared fresh or dried in a paper bag until need arises.

You will decoct tree medicines.  Simmer for 20 minutes.  A handful per quart or a full pinch per cup if it is quite fine and then only boil 5 minutes or so.  The salicin content makes it taste a bit chalky.  You can add 1 part chamomile, poppies, St. John’s Wort, lemon balm, or mint to strengthen or make tastier your medicine.

We have beautiful medicines at our shop and online at http://WhiteWolfHerbs.com should you like a lovely blend of our quite potent medicines.

Trees are such lovely creatures.  I am thankful for their medicine.

 

Setting Yourself Free (Part 4- Using Spirit Herbs for Balance)

Herbs have been used since the beginning of time to heal ailments.  Herbs are perfectly synergistic to the animal body and work amazingly all the time.  No need to patent or change or manipulate herbs into allopathic medicine, they are perfect the way they are.  Since our bodies are so complex it is important to realize and understand that many ailments may not be strictly mental or physical.  Everything is interconnected and our spirits and our outer shells work together.  So, if one is stressed or consumed by fear, it effects the pituitary gland, which controls the hormones, the lymphatic system, and the nervous system.  The pituitary gland is located on top of the head, which incidentally is where the Crown Chakra is located.  Our connection as spirit to the Creator and the spiritual realm is concentrated there.  Connecting with the Creator, having hope and faith, relieves stress and gives us joy which relieves pain and ailments.

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I have written a lot about herbs for physical healing but this piece is about spiritual healing and connection.  If you have ever seen a deceased body there is no doubt that it is a shell, an empty vessel.  The soul/spirit has gone back to it’s Source.  By keeping our connection to the much larger scope of universe and spiritual world, we keep our perceptions clear and also empower ourselves to keep our minds thinking of positive as opposed to negative thoughts.  We grow and learn on this journey.

I am writing a devotional right now that will be out this fall.  Our family’s favorite gift for holidays was always writing books.  Blank sheets of paper waiting to be filled with drawings, poems, and writings thrilled me and the children.  Still, a new journal pleases me so.  I am writing a devotional that will lead folks through meditation each day and include a spirit tea to secure that meditation with plenty of places to write and dream.

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For instance:  If I focus on the word LOVE during meditation then my tea would be herbs like hawthorn and roses which are specific to heart which protect and increase happiness.  Here are a few blends for you to try.  You can get herbs from a local apothecary or online or wild craft them yourself!  Most herbs are dried.

LOVE

1 teaspoon of hawthorn berries (heals heartbreak, protects heart)

1 teaspoon of pink or red rose petals (infuses love, mild nervine)

1 teaspoon of rose hips (anti-inflammatory, protects heart chakra)

a 1/4 inch slice of ginger (root chakra, connected to the earth, respect for all)

Pour boiling water over herbs.  This makes 2 cups.  I like to reuse the herbs later that day.  A quart a day of this tea is lovely.  My friend infused delicious honey with lilacs (one of my favorite flowers) and I use that in my teas.

PROTECTION

1 teaspoon of angelica (creates shield of protection on home and self)

1 leaf of bay (protection from evil spirits)

1 teaspoon of lavender (calmative, faith)

1 teaspoon of roses (love, heart protector)

1 teaspoon of borage (barbed, happiness inducing/fear reducing)

HAPPINESS

1  teaspoon of St. John’s Wort (named after John the Baptist, protector of spirit)

1 teaspoon of borage (joy, nervine)

1 teaspoon of hawthorn (heart protector)

1 teaspoon of lemon balm (uplifting)

a squeeze of lemon (brightness and joy)

This is our fourth day of the Setting Yourself Free series.  I hope that you are choosing happiness, releasing blame, practicing a bit of yoga, taking time to think and meditate, and I hope you will enjoy your tea today.  Tomorrow we will dream and plan and manifest!

Herbal Tea Gifts

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As an herbalist, I have an entire room filled with jars of colorful herbs, bags of fragrant herbs drying, and back up stashes of sealed herbs in boxes to use throughout the year until it is time to harvest or reorder.  You can easily obtain herbs from World Market or a health food store if you do not grow your own.  You can also order online from Mountain Rose Herbs, San Francisco Herb Company, Starwest Botanicals, or a myriad of other herb suppliers, or from your friendly neighborhood herbalist, such as myself.

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The Tea Basket

Tea one– 1 part chamomile, 1 part skullcap, 1/2 part lavender, and a big pinch of ginger for sleepy tea.

Tea two– 1 part elderberry, 1 part Echinacea, 1 part peppermint, and a big pinch of cinnamon for cold/flu tea.

Tea three– 2 parts dried orange peel, 1 part cinnamon chips, 1/2 part black loose tea.  A delicious, fragrant tea blend for cold winter nights.

Tea four– simply package loose Earl Grey tea or other delicious teas like Oolong, or blend Hojicha (a green tea) with spearmint to make Moroccan Mint Tea.

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You can use a jar as simple as a four ounce canning jar or you can purchase fancier jars at Sunburst Bottle or Specialty Bottle Company.  Be creative with what you have though!

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Now add a tea ball, tea strainer, or ready made tea bags.  Maybe a beautiful tea cup from the back of your cupboard or the thrift store. (Or I guess you can buy a new one!)

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Arrange everything in a basket (old Easter basket, from the dollar store, or baskets on hand) with some tinsel and wrap it up with cellophane and a bow.

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A beautiful gift to behold and receive.  One that can be enjoyed for months to come!