Here we are again in the dog days of summer. We all know how important it is at this time of year to pay extra attention to our hydration and wellness. When the days and nights are too hot and your whole body is screaming for something cold and refreshing, herbal extracts and herbal syrups are an easy, delicious way to whip up nutritive, beat-the-heat fizzy drinks at a moments notice. The base of these “functional fizzies” is the same—with just ice, lime juice, and a carbonated water of your choice, you can mix and match simple syrups, herbal extracts, and herbal syrups to get exactly the flavors and wellness boost you need. We’ve got 3 delicious fizzy drink recipes to get you started: a Strawberry Aphrodite Fizz and Gingery Hibiscus Fizz with Ultra Elder extract, and a Gingery Green Tea Fizz with ashwagandha and cinnamon extracts. Keep your favorite simple syrups, extracts, and herbal syrups on hand to make the best summer refreshers.
In modern Western culture, people often disregard dreams as mere fluff that our brains discard as we slumber. But throughout history and cultures, humans have valued dreaming in different ways. Dreams are seen as a door or bridge to the spirit world or the unconscious. They are often full of symbology from our lives, become outlets for our deepest concerns and fears, or offer us tools for self-reflection and a map to our current state of mind and heart. Although we can dream at any stage of sleep, our most vivid dreams occur during our REM (rapid eye movement) sleep cycle, so depending on how well we sleep, we may spend more than two hours each night in some form of dream state. Sleep researchers tell us that deep non-REM sleep rests our bodies and refills our tanks to start another day and REM sleep is crucial for dreaming, memory consolidation, emotional processing, and healthy brain development.
Sleep comes in two categories: REM and non-REM, and we often cycle between them throughout the time we are sleeping, starting with non-REM and then a period of REM, and then back to non-REM, etc. During the REM cycles, our brain activity and heart rate increase to a more wakeful state, our eyes move from side to side, and our breathing becomes faster and more irregular. This cycle is when we have the most vivid dreams and is also when our amygdala—the part of our brain that processes emotions—is activated. During REM sleep, our brains process emotions as well as new things we’ve learned and also sort through what to do with that information: commit it to memory, set it aside for later, delete it entirely, etc. Additionally, there is a link between REM sleep and brain development, which explains why babies spend so much more time in REM sleep than adults.
Jiling and Maria discuss favorite easy-to-grow herbs for a medicinal herb garden, “remedy gardens,” favorite herbs for delicious teas, increasing access for herbal classes within a for-profit business model, and more. We hope this conversation inspires your spring planting, growing, learning, and harvesting projects!
We hope you enjoy this week’s episode as we chat about Rosemary’s upbringing, the importance of bringing community together towards action, her current favorite simple tea blend (listed below), and so much more.
Infusions are an enjoyable method for savoring and receiving the benefits of herbs. Also referred to simply as tea, an herbal infusion is technically called a tisane and involves steeping fresh or dried herbs in water for a period of time. The water used for an infusion can be hot or cold depending on the herbs you use and the effect you desire, as well as your preference and mood. In this blog, we are going to focus on what a cold infusion is, what herbs work best with this method, and how to make a cold infusion.
A cold infusion is a method for making a tisane using room temperature water rather than hot. There are several instances where a cold infusion might be preferred over a cup of steaming hot tea. Due to the gentle nature of the cold infusion method, it is ideal for aromatic plants whose volatile constituents would otherwise be damaged by heat. Additionally, some herbs contain plant constituents that are best extracted at room temperature to draw the most benefits out of the plant material. There are also plant constituents, such as bitter compounds, that you may not want in a cup of tea. These constituents aren’t readily dissolved by cool water, so can make for a more pleasurable brew. Lastly, you may want a cold infusion for sheer enjoyment. There’s nothing more fun or delicious than picking fresh herbs from the garden on a sunny day and letting them infuse in the natural warmth. It’s a summertime ritual at our house.
Thomas sat down with our good friend and talented herbalist, Jiling Lin, over Zoom this past fall to get to know her a little better. We’ve had the great fortune of partnering with Jiling on numerous projects including filming instructional videos, writing poetic blogs and journal articles, emceeing Free Herbalism Projects, and of course hosting Tea Talks on Herbal Radio. We’re so grateful for the opportunity to get to know Jiling even more as Thomas and Jiling chat about her upbringing, the sharing of plants and stories, and the pivotal herbal plot points in her life. We hope you enjoy our conversation with Jiling as much as we did!
When it comes to nutritive plants like these four treasured herbal allies, opting for the infusion method will impart your water-based brew with the full strength of the plant material. Certainly, you could steep these herbs in a tea bag for 10-15 minutes. However, you’ll receive exponentially more of the nutritive and tonifying benefits with the infusion method, which employs a hefty volume of herbs steeped for hours. This allows more of the minerals, chlorophyll, and other nutrients to be pulled into the solution.
Think of it this way: Infusions pull more of the power-packed punch out of your dried herbs. Brewing your herbs this way gives you a strong, nourishing brew—deep and rich in color, flavor, and constituents. Just the way you like it.
We know that meditation is good for our minds, our hearts, and our bodies, but for some of us, sitting still for more than five minutes is a real challenge, which puts a damper on the whole meditative process. That’s when we turn to our favorite supportive herbs that can help us slow down, take a breath, and stop the circular thinking that distracts us. Our Meditation Tea Blend Recipe checks all the right boxes to get us in the right headspace with a layered balance of nutritious base herbs, supporting nervine herbs, and delicious accent herbs. Take a minute, have a cup of tea, and give your body the gift of sitting still.
I am not known for my ability to sit still. I am always moving, shaking, and thinking of all of the things that need to get done. This is the main reason that meditation has always been a bit of a struggle for me. I really enjoy it and see its vast benefits, but this act of slowing down does not come easily to me. So, I was delighted to discover that I could reach for some trusted herbal allies to help me slow down, break the cycle of an overactive mind, and sit still for longer than five minutes.
Not only does the act of brewing and sipping tea help to start the process of slowing down, but the herbs themselves begin to prepare my mind and body for the upcoming practice. The blend I am going to share here is made up of six ingredients that all play a special role in helping to quiet the mind, release tension in the body, and please the tastebuds at the same time.