I love making tea. The ritual of it is grounding, and it can feel almost like a divination--a Oija board type experience. Here’s what I mean: when I open up my cupboard of herbs, I let my hands decide. Which herbs will they choose? I try to keep my mind out of the way as much as possible. My hands do the measuring too: a pinch of this, a handful of that. No two pots of tea are ever the same. I do, however, tend to go through phases where I used the same herbs over and over in various combinations.
Lately, my life has been characterized by transition and change. I’ve found that heart-centered nervine herbs ease tension in my chest and soothe my mind. Here are some of my favorite herbs for tea right now (and maybe always, to be honest):
Rose- the queen of all flowers, the most luxurious and delicate of scents, the very symbol of love and of the heart. Rose is wonderful for the emotional heart as well as the physical. As a cooling, astringent nervine, rose soothes cardiovascular inflammation and calms a racing heart. Rose also eases heartbreak.
Tulsi- another queen, to be sure. Tulsi is one of my favorite herbs. Of all time. I feel noticeably more relaxed and focused when I drink tulsi tea. And if I drink tulsi regularly, I find that my mood is more stable and I am generally more calm and collected.
Melissa- the fruity, lemony flavor of this herb brightens my day, uplifting my spirit. For me, Melissa is like rose-colored glasses in a cup. I feel a little lighter and more cheerful when she is around.
Hawthorn leaf- Like rose herself, hawthorn is another rose family herb. It is no wonder that hawthorn, too, is wonderful for the emotional and physical heart.
Linden- I couldn’t talk about calming nervines for the heart without mentioning linden. In Burlington, Vermont, linden is one of the most cherished scents of the summer months. In mid June, after the apple trees and lilacs have long since lost their fragrant blossoms, a sweet smell wafts all over town on warm sunny days. Behold the sweet, fragrant medicine of the linden flower. Drinking linden blossoms in winter transports me to the Summer and evokes feelings of hope and joy.
My tea blends have evolved over time, and I gain experience with each new pot I brew. I love discovering new combinations of herbs, and learning how each herb influences my mind and body when I drink it regularly. Like everything in herbalism, experience comes with time. The key is not being afraid to play around. I’ve made some pretty disgusting tea blends along the way, but more often I’ve made surprisingly magical blends that I can return to again and again.
Here is a basic recipe for making any herbal infusion. This works bester for leaves and flowers. For woodier parts of a plant, like bark, roots, and seed pods, a decoction will be the best way to make a tea.
2-3 TBS dried or fresh herbs of your choice. This can be a single herb or multiple herbs
1 quart near-boiling water
What are your favorite herbs to drink as tea?
Dearest Herbal Community-
It is with a tender heart that I share with you that I am moving on from Railyard Apothecary at the end of February.
For the past five years, I’ve had the privilege of being part of this amazing community-led organization. I’ve learned so much along the way: about business, about myself, and about how to truly be in community. It hasn’t always been easy work, but it has been deeply rewarding and fulfilling.
When I first joined Burlington Herb Clinic as an herbalist/owner at the end of 2015, I could not have imagined in my wildest dreams what would grow and blossom in this industrial space. As a collective, the Railyard team has turned a vision of sustainability, accessibility, and equity into a reality. This is something that I’m very proud of.
During my time at Railyard, I have had the opportunity to work with well over 100 clients and serve countless more while working in the store. I was able to organize dozens of community events and classes. With the support and encouragement of Railyard, I brought Sherri Mitchell, Sandor Katz, and Mariee Soiux to our space. We had parties. We danced and sang and told stories. We learned about Chinese medicine, herbs of every variety, how to garden, how to dance, how to make chocolate. I was able to teach my medicine making series over 15 times. In my time at Railyard I also developed a line of products for the store. From smoking blends to herbal teas to salves to face steams, we now carry products that are most needed by our community. I had the honor to be a part of bringing our Herbal Justice Fund program to fruition, supporting lower income folx and providing reparations for BIPOC. I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with local farms, bringing us one step closer to a sustainable future for herbal medicine and local food systems. There is no better feeling than to accomplish so much all for the love of people, plants, and the planet. I humbly thank you for allowing me this opportunity.
I’m proud of what I’ve contributed to Railyard Apothecary, but it would be nothing without all of you. Above all, Railyard has taught me the importance of community. We are all connected, to each other and to the earth. So while I am moving on from Railyard, I will continue to be a part of our herbal community. The connections I’ve made run deep, and I have built relationships that will last a lifetime.
Love to you all,