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by Alex Williams April 10, 2022
"Whatever the situation, whatever the race or creed,
Tea knows no segregation, no class nor pedigree
It knows no motivation, no sect nor organization,
It knows no one religion,
Nor political belief."
– The Kinks, Muswell Hillbillies, 1971
Figured I'd start off with some Kinks to talk about one of the primary pillars of my practice as an herbalist: having some tea.
For starters, herbal tea can offer deep nourishment on the physiological and psychological levels.
Consider this: over the course of several centuries, the Western diet has transformed radically as a result of industrial food production and factory farming to exclude many important trace minerals and nutrients that just aren't present in the processed foods, and tamed fruits/veggies available to us. Eating wild foods is one solution, but may not always be accessible for some people.
A good middle ground is to integrate a daily cup of herbal tea to provide those missing nutrients and minerals excluded from our habitual diet.
Herbalist Maria Noel Groves also offers this from her wonderful book, Body into Balance:
"Many of the herbs that benefit our nervous system -- particularly the relaxing ones -- are highly aromatic, so that a cup of tea provides not only the healing constituents you swallow but also the vapors you inhale. For these reasons, a daily tea ritual is one of the best ways to allow herbs to multitask and help you feel better. The simple act of making and drinking tea is an affirmation that you are taking care of yourself and that plants have the power to heal."
So we have the health supporting benefits, but there's something else going on here that it took me a while to discover: having my cup of tea brings me back to the essence and power of plant medicine every single day (and at least 5-7 times throughout the day if I'm lucky).
You see, water as a vehicle for plant extraction is as old as humanity itself, and many of our current practices as herbalists would not exist without these first human experiments in boiling wild plants in a pot of water.
Making an infusion is the easiest way to cast a spell: it is an act of magic that anyone can practice. By doing so, you are able to bring together all earthly elements in a slow act of meditative bliss.
Making herbal infusions is a pillar of any home herbalist's daily practice. You start with a couple herbs on your shelf: maybe chamomile, lemon balm, and spearmint. Herbs you can grow in your garden or in your window planter. You get to known the herbs one at a time: their personalities, their virtues, their tastes, their smells, their feel on your fingers when you throw them in the jar. Then together: how their flavors swirl and play in the water together. You begin to learn the 'energetics' of herbs intuitively.
Then maybe you throw more herbs into the mix. Perhaps you start making yourself a weekly tea blend at the beginning of the week and Monday becomes a day to look forward to because you begin the week by paying deep attention to what your body needs.
From this approach, an infusion becomes the sensuous core of the radical potential in everyday herbalism. It is at once a meditation, a ritual, a love letter to your body, a rebellion against the busyness of our culture, and an ever unfolding practice of self-care.
Although making infusions might seem like a lot of work at first, it becomes easier and something to look forward to the more you do it.
*For a standard infusion, use 1-2 tbsp (5-7g) herb to 8oz water. For a 32oz (Quart) mason jar, use 1/4 cup (20-25g) herb and fill to the top with just boiled water.
Start of with some of our herbal tea blends and find one that resonates with you. Then I highly encourage you to start a little dried herb shelf of your own to start making your own blends (check our resources page for some great herb farms and suppliers).
To make it even more easy on yourself, grab one of our tea straining straws so all you need to do is make some tea as outlined above, and when the straining step comes, just stick your straw in and sip away!
With love and a warm cup in my hands,
photos by cam sand
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The content on this website is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.