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April Newsletter

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Spring is off to a running start and it’s a season of temperamental weather patterns. Most of us can start shedding winter layers and at times let our skin breath uncovered in the crisp spring air. It’s the time when we start rediscovering our selves and our gardens…taking an inventory of what survived the winter.

If you are like me and love spring flowers, then your yard probably looks like a beautiful rainbow of cherry blossoms, daffodils, tulips, lilies, and crocuses. We have an entire apple orchard on the farm carpeted with dandelions in flower…it is spectacular! 

I’m just trying to keep up my trot along side the sweeping tide of warmer weather. Finding the best times to do indoor tea business work and outdoor gardening work requires an ability to practice constant contextual shifts…which can be difficult at times. I am experiencing the need to be in the greenhouse and gardens when the weather is right. I feel really good about allowing myself to be directed by nature, rather than having hard lines about my schedule. There is nothing more special than connecting with the whims of nature.

Being flexible with nature comes at a cost to my sense of control, sometimes it feels like some other entity is steering my course and I end up putting the puzzle together piece by piece in the moment, forgetting what the whole looks like. Then all of the sudden I step back and am pleasantly surprised by the creative tapestry I am creating. As the growing season unfolds, attempting to seize every perfect moment and fill it with the right task is a fun and often “lofty” goal.

I hope you are able to get out and look at the gorgeous flowers and leaves budding out. It is a truly fascinating sight! 

Thank you for your patience in allowing me to get this newsletter out a few days later than I usually do. I hope you enjoy your tea this month!

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Spring to Life!

This is a wonderful spring tonic. Nutritious nettles and raspberry leaf create a vitamin and mineral rich base. Ginger and fennel add a wonderful warming aromatic herbal action. I like to drink this tea as a strong morning brew or as an after lunch digestive pick me up. You can absolutely make a sun tea or iced tea from this blend on warm sunny days. The blend seems relatively simple, but provides lots of minerals for healthy bones and muscles. Usually we spend more time outside being active starting in the spring, so this tea will give your body the extra micronutrients it needs to sustain a more active lifestyle.

Raspberry leaf tones the tissues in the female reproductive system, making this blend an excellent women’s tonic. 

Allergy Bee Gone!

I talk to several hundred people at the farmers markets in Seattle every weekend and a large number of people who come by my booth end up buying the allergy tea two or three times during the spring. I do not really identify as someone who has seasonal allergies, but I get stuffy with headaches on breezy spring days, regular cups of allergy tea help reduce my symptoms. I hope you wont even notice your allergies this year because you have been drinking a wonderful allergy tea. 

The herbs in this blend support and reduce springtime pollen sensitivity and allergy symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, congestions, inflamed sinuses, and watery eyes.

Nettles have a natural anti-histamine in their leaves and have a soothing action on the respiratory system. If you are truly committed to natural allergy support try freeze dried nettle capsules or nettle tincture made from fresh nettle leaf…or better yet, regularly eat fresh nettles all spring. 

Eye bright is helpful for puffy flushed eyes that are a common allergy symptom. Marshmallow is a demulcent herb, it has a smooth slimy texture (derived from sweet mucopolysaccharides in the tissue of the plant) that soothe dry, irritated, or inflamed tissues of the throat and lungs. Bee pollen is used to help people desensitize their body to allergens. Consistent low doses of bee pollen daily can really improve some people who suffer from seasonal allergies. It is definitely worth trying! Catnip is a natural decongestant with calming properties.  Elderflower is another remedy for sore and inflamed eyes associated with allergies, and can also reduce fever. Red clover flower has long been used in allergy blends for its expectorant properties.

Clarity Tea

White teas are soft and airy in nature, this is reflected in their light color and smooth taste. They remind me of the delicateness of spring and help me reflect on the sensitive aspects of my self that are reemerging after winter. Taking on more farm responsibilities each year always creates a situation where I am learning, making mistakes, trying new things…you know, all the exciting and scary experiences that go along with new growth. It takes courage for living creatures to expand and open themselves up to the uncertainties of life. Drink Clarity Tea with joy and surrender. I hope the added floral character from the rose petals and osmanthus flowers help uplift and get you out seeking all the rich aromas of early spring. I am in love with the scent of daphne and Narcissus daffodils during April.   

White teas are some of the earliest spring pickings from the tea plant. Because they have not been exposed to intense light and heat they have not began developing strong flavor or caffeine potency. White teas are the most antioxidant rich teas from the Camellia sinensis plant and they are much lower in caffeine than green or black teas.  

 

March Newsletter

This month I just wanted to start by posting some shots of the greenhouse. It is the beginning of the growing season folks! Warm days are happening more often now, which begs for us to “march” outside and begin cleaning up our gardens. 

This is a shot of the greenhouse full of baby plants. Sorry the photo is very rough. My photography abilities leave a little to be desired, but we can just blame it on my camera!

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Astragalus starts:

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Licorice root starts:

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March is one of my favorite months, my brain buzzes with ideas and lists of projects. It’s a good time to sit down and make lists of outdoor projects you want to complete and start hashing out the baby steps it takes to complete the project. I find that creating small reasonable goals for myself each week help me complete a larger project over time. I carry around notebooks everywhere I go that keep me informed about my goals and allows me to stay focused on the essentials. This is how I manage to farm, make teas for two tea businesses, wildcraft, cook in a restaurant, and do restoration work without going insane. Okay, I do still get very overwhelmed and lose my cool every once in a while… 

I have spent a few hours a week for the last month and a half getting lots of plants started in the greenhouse. March is usually the month where I see significant growth of my starts and I start transplanting the toughest species into the garden. There is no more exciting time for a gardener such as myself than spring because we are coming off months of dormancy and separation from the life force of plants. The transition back into gardening brings new creative ideas, potentials, and opportunities. Gardening is artistry, it is a living painting that feeds and heals us, the work it takes to maintain a beautiful and fruitful garden is honorable and educational at every step of the way. I feel totally inspired and thrilled by the awakening of the plant kingdom. Plus, all this rain in my area reminds me of how important and life giving water is for the renewal of plants and animals during the spring. Spring rains set the stage for strong robust plants later in the season.

The teas this month are transitional teas. Early spring is definitely a period of grand transition. Temperatures climb and drop, one minute it’s raining and the next bright sunshine has you squinting like crazy. Our bodies are pulled and prodded by energy and transitional stress. I created three teas to get your day off right, ease stress, and begin to get your liver and kidneys back in shape after a long slow winter.

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Wake Up!

Ingredients: Keemun Tea, Tulsi, Rose Hips, Hawthorn Leaf and Flower, Lemongrass, Cinnamon, Nettle, Anise Seed, Orange Zest

This is a really nice herbal blend with a delicious dark Keemum tea. This blend will certainly get your day off on the right foot! It’s ever so slightly bittersweet which can help improve morning digestion. Hawthorn is a strong and wonderful cardiovascular tonic herb that strengthens the physical and emotional heart. As a morning herbal tea, Wake Up! should help increase circulation and provide the vitamins and minerals you need to support a “get up and get moving” attitude. This is a true tonic blend, if you really like it please email me and I can ship you more.

This tea can also be used as an afternoon pick me up if you often need a little motivation after lunch.

I am really excited about this blend because we are official in nettle season!! Nettles are technically the second herb I harvest each year…the first is cottonwood buds for my salves. But in my mind, nettle is the first herb of the year. It comes up in the throngs of cold heavy march rains, fearless of possible spring frosts. Nettle is a true powerhouse of nutrients and vitamins. Full of chlorophyll, protein, vitamins B, K, and A, and minerals nettle is a prime spring tonic herb. Helping to get your body ready for increased energy needs as spring progresses. Drink and eat nettles whenever possible during the spring when they are at their peak perfection! 

The flavor of this tea is a fine balance between bittersweet, citrus, and aromatic. Our perception of flavor is a combination of scent and taste receptors in the mouth. There is also a strong visual component to flavor, loose leaf teas allow a fuller flavor potential compared to tea bags. I always try to balance blends by providing a full aromatic and taste spectrum whenever possible. Due to their volatile oils the cinnamon, tulsi, lemongrass, anise, and orange zest create a sensual aromatic dance above the cup as you sip. Each of these aromatics are very bold in their own way, try to enjoy this simple scent pleasure. To get the fullest aromatic experience please cover your tea to trap the wondrous volatile essential oils during the steeping process. The keemum tea, hawthorn, tulsi, and nettles provide the base for the flavor, then you begin to taste the mood brightening citrus notes from the orange zest and lemongrass, finally you notice the lovely sweetness from the cinnamon, hawthorn berries, and rose hips. If your mouth is sensitive, you will also experience a lingering tingle on your tongue from the tulsi, which is totally amazing and normal.

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Rest Easy

Ingredients: Ginger, Skullcap, Catnip, Raspberry Leaf, Chamomile, Rose Hips, Lemonbalm, Spearmint, Orange Zest, Licorice Root

Another tonic blend, like Wake up!, except this blend is specific for soothing the nervous system and relaxation. Perfect for an after supper tea for the whole family. The nervine herbs in this blend are skullcap, catnip, chamomile, mint, and lemonbalm. All of these herbs except chamomile are mint family plants and work on the nervous system in slightly different ways. Together these nervine herbs helps reduce stress by calming muscles, a chattery mind, and anxiety. Raspberry leaf is slightly nervine too but I usually promote it more as a nutritive herb that provides extra vitamins and minerals. Ginger is added to help improve digestion because slow digestion is commonly associated with stress conditions. Ginger also balances the cooling effect of many of the mint family plants in this blend. Licorice adds a touch of sweetness and is a nervous system tonic.

Again, this tea is characterized as having a slightly bittersweet flavor. Initially you will taste some bitterness on your palate, but after the first couple seconds you will begin to recognize the sweetness from the mints and licorice. As you sip the spice from the ginger will begin to linger in your mouth. The orange zest adds a that nice mood elevating citrus note that also opens your taste receptors and allows for a much stronger flavor experience than if the citrus was absent.   

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Restore

Ingredients: Reishi and Chaga Mushrooms, Rhodiola, Dandelion Root, Burdock Root, Fenugreek, Ashwagandha, Astragalus, Codonopsis

Every few months I send out a decoction blend of medicinal mushrooms, roots, and seeds. Usually these blends have pretty similar ingredients, this is because these herbs work best when take regularly over time. It is important to note: these blends are really really (I mean, REALLY) good for the body.

They do not always have the best flavors compared to infusions, but they are the deepest restorative blends that I send out to you. So please learn to love them, it’s worth it! Your body will thank you by being more energized, have clear skin, and strengthened immunity.

These decoction blends are actually quite difficult to create because mushrooms and roots often have intense flavors that are difficult to balance. They also take more work to brew up because they are best simmered on low in a lidded saucepan for anywhere from 20 minutes to many hours and their flavor changes depending on how long you choose to decoct. The longer you decoct (simmer) the tea the more potent the tea becomes and the more water is necessary for the simmer. If you do not initially like the strong potent flavor of the tea use more water to dilute and mellow the flavor. I have learned to love these restorative decoctions, so it is often more difficult for me to tell whether other people will like them or not. 

This is a neutral blend. Some blends are warming and some are cooling, but because spring is farther along in southern states than northern ones I decided to find middle ground. I find myself sweating as soon as the sun comes out and chilled when it’s grey. Generally though, most of us are still suffering from deep coldness in our bodies, even though at the surface we might feel hot when we get some radiant heat during sun breaks. That being said, I recommend grating a little fresh ginger or cinnamon stick into your decoction to add a more pronounced warming effect if you so desire. 

This blend is full of “adaptogenic” herbs. Herbs that are used all over the world for restoring the body from the damaging effects of stress. If you try to continually drink teas like “restore” on a regular basis they really do help restore and protect your body from stress. Reishi mushroom, chaga, astragalus, codonopsis, rhodiola, and ashwagandha are several deeply supportive adaptogenic herbs. These herbs together support both the nervous system, immunity, and the skeletal muscle system. Codonopsis and rhodiola are a bit more energizing than the others. So if you feel at anytime like you are suffering from tiredness and fatigue associated with stress, try experimenting with these herbs rather than grabbing for a stimulant like caffeine to give you the boost you need. All of the above listed herbs will slowly increase your natural energy reserves, but some are more energizing or calming than others. If you feel rather high strung and unable to sleep taking ashwagandha and chaga might be the appropriate for you.  

I felt proud a few weeks ago when I went into my primary care physician for advice about some dizziness and spaciness I have been experiencing. I learned that since I had some serious concussions as a kid, now and for the rest of my life I have to be extra careful to take care of my nervous system and brain. I was surprised that my general practice doctor straight up recommended several of my favorite restorative herbs. I think it bodes well for the respect of herbalism when mainstream doctors are recommending herbs like rhodiola, ashwagandha, reishi mushrooms, and ginseng.  

Dandelion and burdock roots work really well together to support your liver and kidneys respectively. These herbs are considered nourishing to your liver and kidneys and help promote detoxification. They are considered cooling herbs, so if you already feel cool or notice your digestion is really slow please add some fresh ginger or cinnamon to this blend to help create a more warming effect on the body. One added cosmetic benefit of having a healthy functioning liver and kidneys is that your skin looks and feels much clearer. I have a several customers who have been regularly drinking my Glow tea and they no longer have red blotchy skin or acne. 

February Newsletter

It’s a very cold day for most of the country today. Temperatures are finally above freezing in the Puget Sound where I live. Last week I cleaned up the greenhouse to set up heat pads and grow lights and began the 2014 planting season. Because it still feels a lot like winter it is especially odd to witness little seedlings coming to life in the greenhouse! But what an exciting sight! With just a few sets of shop lights and a heater we can easily wake up sleeping seeds. Each year in late January I have to convince myself it is not TOO early to start seedlings indoors. And despite how it still feels like spring is nowhere in sight, it will be here sooner than I think.

Each year in February, I like to send you love themed teas. I am not big into “Valentines Day”, but I recognise the need for herbal indulgence and feel good herbs this month. Typically one of the coldest and most barren months, February can be a emotionally challenging to slog through without a warm uplifting beverage on hand at all times. Sol Mate and Chocolatl are stimulating and are best drank in the morning or just after a big lunch. Bliss is a great feel good tea that works wonders as a late afternoon pick-me-up. 

In February, in my own life, I make special efforts to create fun and rewarding projects for myself to keep my personal morale up. I usually get cookbooks as gifts during the holidays so I spent a lot of time reading through them and trying out new or unusual dishes that capture my attention. With a shortage of locally grown produce in February I tend to focus my cooking on projects that test my patience and skills such as baking, braising, and dishes heavily flavored with dried spices. I get really motivated to work hard all day so I can kick back at 4pm and begin an exciting cooking project. I am currently trying to learn to make better croissants and brioche…which go well with braised pork or lamb shoulder that is richly spiced and tender. I have been perpetually inspired by the slow roasted root vegetables cooked in the wood fire oven at Bar Sajor in Seattle. I have tried many iterations of my own. Because I do not have a fancy wood fire oven, I slow roast the vegetables in the oven then finish them off over a small wood fire…they get the most wonderful smokey seasoning, plus I get to go to bed with essence of campfire on my skin (always a plus). Anyways, if you find yourself getting a case of the February Funks, drink some Bliss tea and treat yourself to creative projects that reflect what you love! 

I recommend sharing February Bird’s Eye Teas with friends and loved ones to help maintain optimism and connection. It always feels better when I talk about what is happening right now in my life but also my plans for the spring and memories of the summers past.

Bliss

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Damiana, Rose Hips, Passionflower, Peppermint, Cloves, Licorice Root, and Cacao Nibs

Pour 1.5 cups hot water over 1-2 tsp tea. Steep 4-7 minutes. Tastes great with a touch of milk.

Sip this tea and allow your stress to melt away and let your humor and light nature shine through. Kick those shoes off and dance!

Damiana is a shrub native to Southwest Texas, Mexico, and parts of Central America. The damiana I use is wildcrafted (hand harvested from wild populations) in Northern Mexico. I buy damiana from a really cool company out of Sebastopol, Ca called Botanical Preservation Corps. Damiana has strong aromatic leaves which are used in this tea. The fruits from damiana reportedly taste like fig! (I am really eager to get my clutches on some of those fruits) Damiana leaves alone are quite bitter and remind me slightly of sagebrush in aroma and pungent flavor. Damiana has traditionally been used as a nervous system tonic and aphrodisiac throughout Mexico and Central America. From my own experience, it has an amazing ability increase energy without feeling anxious. Because I get a sense of general wellbeing when I drink damiana tea, I like to rely on it for days when I feel low. On days or evenings when you need to talk yourself into getting a move on or need some motivation, have a cup of tea with damiana and you will be out flirting with the world in no time. 

This blend is intended to be fun and uplifting and nourishing to the nervous system. The relaxing effects of passion flower and linden balance the potency of the damiana. Licorice root is an adaptogen herb, helps the body adapt to stress and supports immune system strength. I use licorice in many blends because it has been shown to be protective against adrenal fatigue. plus it adds a really nice sweetness that has an immediately soothing effect on the mouth and throat. 

True cinnamon and clove are warming sensual herbs that may strengthen circulation. Rose hips add a kiss of tangy sweetness to the blend and provide a little vitamin C and antioxidants. Roasted cacao nibs add a subtle roasted character that help uplift and comfort. 

Sol Mate

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Ingredients: Yerba Mate, Linden, Lemongrass, Peppermint, Yerba Santa, Elderberry, and Osmanthus flowers

Steeping Instructions: Pour 8 oz hot water over 1 tsp tea. Steep 4-7 minutes.

Sol Mate is a caffeinated blend that has a perfect balance of earthy, mint, fruit, citrus, and floral. This blend is really all about teasing your taste buds, providing wonderful play on the pallet.

The Mate hails from an organic mate company called Anna Park. I was able to meet the longtime owner of the company in Obera, Argentina. He was a lovely man whose family has owned this company for over 40 years. Here is a picture of the label from the Anna Park yerba mate and a mate plant on the edge of a farm in Obera, Misiones, Argentina.

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Mate leaves are hand harvested from shrubs that are anywhere from 2 to 8 feet tall. Once the leaves are harvested they go through a short fermentation process then dried. Most of the mate you get in the US is cut and sifted, removing any stems and powders. The mate in Argentina is not sifted, it has bits of stem and very fine powder still in it, which is why the Sol Mate this month looks a little powdery. I think the mate in Sol Mate is very representative of the highest quality yerba mate grown in Argentina. 

My honest experience of drinking mate in Argentina was that it was served way too strong for me. I am apparently a total mate wimp. A gourd is almost entirely filled with dried mate leaves and a small amount of hot water is poured over it. We typically drink tea at 1-2 tsp per cup, mate is made at about 12-15 tsp per cup, but steeped dozens of times. People might resteep and sip a single gourd of mate for many hours. Mate can be very powerful when served so strong. It effected me very cerebrally. I often felt dizzy with stimulation and jittery after sharing a gourd of mate with my friends. Mate is also bitter at that concentration so it fiercely stimulates digestion. Had it been winter I might have had a different experience and appreciated the effects of mate on my body. Most people in the summer actually drink their mate cold, steeped into fruit juice, which is quite delicious. But almost every time I was served mate it was hot because we had no refrigeration where I was staying.

Sol Mate is a really nice mate blend that has an aroma, flavor, and invigorating herbal action. Many of my customers come back again and again because they like Sol Mate so much. I have an affinity for the taste and aroma of this tea. From the moment you open the package to the moment the last sips are barely warm in the cup, there is so much subtlety at play. I am immediately swept away by the sweet floral fragrance of osmanthus, which tangles with the mint and lemongrass. There is a distinct herbaceous aspect of the tea that is typical of yerba mate. I often like to stick my nose over the tea and take really deep breaths til I feel sufficiently energized. Taking time to sit with delicately flavored herbal teas helps me be incredibly in tune the moment and happy. As the tea cools a menagerie of changing flavors captivate the pallet. Enjoy!

Yerba mate is characteristically bold in its energizing herbal action. I mellowed it out by adding the slightly sweet uplifting aromatic herbs peppermint, lemongrass, linden, yerba santa, elderberry, and osmanthus flowers. The linden and peppermint help balance the strong stimulating effect of the mate. I have said this many times before, whenever I create a blend with stimulating alkaloids (caffeine and theobromine in the yerba mate) I try to balance it with herbs that nourish and protect the nervous system.

XOCOLATL

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Ingredients: Raw Cacao, Roasted Cocoa, Chamomile, Spearmint, True Cinnamon, Fennel and Cayenne

Steeping Instructions: Heat 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup milk in saucepan. Pour water-milk mixture over 1 tsp tea. Steep 5-7 minutes. Strain and add a small spoon of honey.

Many of you have tried versions of my chocolate teas before, Xocolatl is one of my Harbor Herbalist best sellers. I usually make Xocolatl exclusively with raw cacao because raw chocolate is much higher in nutrients and anti-oxidants. But this month I combined 50/50 raw cacao powder with roasted cacao powder to give you a more intense chocolate experience. It is my intent to capture the richness of the both the chocolate and the herbs in a way that enraptures your taste buds! I highly recommend drinking this tea with milk and honey.

The calming effects of spearmint and chamomile help create a soothing drinking chocolate experience. I enjoy a cup of Xocolatl after meals to satisfy chocolate cravings. This tea is much lighter and healthier than most chocolate snacks, so please indulge.

While I was in Argentina there was a chain of ice cream shops by the same name as this tea!! 

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The benefits of cacao are plenty, if you want to read more about Theobroma cacao (chocolate) here is an article I wrote two years ago when I first introduced this tea with my Bird’s Eye Tea customers. CACAO

January Newsletter

Happy New Year! 

As winter sets in January should be about rest and recuperation. Make sure you are getting lots of well earned sleep and recharging your emotional battery.

Because it is the beginning of our calendar year we feel compelled to spend a lot of energy trying to resolve to be “better” in some way. We are taught to believe that the custom of making new years resolutions will immediately improve our lives. But extreme change in the coldest and dark time of the year can be really stressful to your system which can create very short lived change.

I tend to believe that if we are going to start new beginnings, the more appropriate time to make change is in the spring when energy is on the rise…not this deep sluggish part of winter.

I think it is very healthy to strive for a balanced life and sometimes making hard choices are the only way to achieve that balance, but January should be more a time when you can simply, and without judgement, let go of any emotional baggage from the past year. Try to give yourself some freedom from self criticism and judgement, be happy with who and where you are right here, right now. The best way to recharge yourself in January is to reassure yourself that your past has provided you with the wisdom you need to be the right person suited to the task of living your life right now. You do not need to linger upon things that happened in the past, just know that those experiences shape the good decisions you are making here and now.

I decided to take some time off from my work in Washington and head to Argentina for the month of January. I had been working non stop for a couple years to build the foundation for my businesses and I was starting to feel fatigued. In the spring I am taking on even more responsibilities on the farm. So, in the spirit of recharging my emotional battery, I wanted to come to the sub-tropical jungle and spend time with one of my most grounding friends who is living here in Obera, Argentina. My friends here have been living without electricity and permanent shelters in the subtropical jungle in the north of Argentina for the past year. I just arrived in a region called Missiones to a town called Obera yesterday (December 29th). I am writing the newsletter ahead of time because I am worried that I wont have internet access much over the next couple weeks.

Argentina is a very strange country, having only been here for a short time, so I cannot even begin to give you an accurate account of the place. I spent a few days in Buenos Aires, which, turns out, is a gigantic city. The neighborhood I was staying in, Palermo, is almost as big as Seattle. On a map it seems like you can easily walk from one neighborhood to another only to find out it would take you several hours. Because it is summer the heat is very oppressive, especially in the intensely urban landscape of Buenos Aires.

When you arrive in Argentina you must leave your expectation at the airport. Nothing is the way you expect or have read about. Thankfully, people here are incredibly nice and helpful. I speak very mediocre spanish (not understanding the local accents at all) and most of the time people have been super patient with me. Almost everyone you meet wants to chat you up in in English anyways.  

Here are a few pictures I have snapped so far from where my friends live in Obera. I am not huge into photography, so bear with me. Also, I am sorry I didn’t get a chance to snap shots for the tea descriptions this month. 

This is the communal space in the bush my friends built. This is the first generation model built in 2013. 

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Below is a native jungle nettle! this photo does not to the size and shape of this species justice. It grows to be almost 20 ft tall and leaves over two feet long. 

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Below is a shot of the wood fire cookings stove commonly used in this area for outdoor cooking

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I do not have great pictures of the actual jungle, just lots of pretty butterflies and other strange and wonderful insects. Below is one of my favorite butterflies so far. 

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Kahwa

Ingredients: Gunpowder Green Tea, Rose Petals, Cinnamon, Cardamom, and Almond

Steeping Instructions: Simmer 1-2 tsp tea and 2 cups water in a lidded saucepan for 10-20 minutes. Strain and enjoy. You can also add a touch of honey for added deliciousness.

Kahwa is one of the teas I sent out last January and was well-liked by everyone I talked to. It is a really neat tea that hails from the Kashmiri region, an intersecting region that includes parts of India, Pakistan, and China, it is also served in Afghanistan. This tea is more typically served in areas that are predominately Muslim. In the traditional manner it is made in a beautiful samovar.  From what information I could find on the subject, most Kashmiri’s believe Kahwa has been a part of their culture since time immemorial (source: wikipedia). Some have dated its roots back to 1st or 2nd century AD. Kahwa is usually served to guests as dinner, saffron is often added for very special guests. 

I have a deep fondness for the ingredients in this tea and the flavor. I have made other teas that combine spices and nuts, but none have I enjoyed as much as this. Most nutty flavored teas in the grocery stores (ie hazelnut or almond) have added “natural flavoring” that primarily imparts the nutty flavor. It is much more difficult to capture the aroma and flavor using the real dry roasted nuts themselves, so the almond flavor in Kahwa is deliciously subdued.

Chai! 

Ingredients: Assam Tea, Ginger, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Fennel, Clove, Black Pepper, Allspice, and Saffron

In an attempt to allow you to experience a more traditional cup of chai, I sent out the black tea in a separate packet. If you really want to get crazy, you can even crush the spices up a bit more in a mortar and pestle before combining them in a lidded saucepan with cold water and bringing that to a low simmer for 10 - 45 minutes. By crushing the spices right before making your chai you are opening them up to more surface area and imparting or infusing your own energy into the process, which is energetically very good. I also recommend adding fresh ginger to your chai if you want a more fresh taste. Fresh ginger tastes amazing with saffron, so I highly recommend grating a small thumb of ginger in each batch you make.  

A few notes about making chai: you can always add more water if too much evaporates off during the initial simmer. When adding the milk to the simmered herbs make sure to watch the pot closely, you do not want to have a bubbly eruption from boiling milk…which is often what happens to me if I step away for even a second as I am heating the milk. Once the milk is hot you can toss in the black tea and let steep for 4-5 minutes. You can add as much black tea as you want, but I usually just add a small tsp per cup. Always sweeten your chai, even every so slightly to enable the flavors to brighten and come alive. The sweetener balances some of the sharpness of the spice blend.

This is a very special chai blend with saffron! The flavor will be much more delicious. I backed off on the ginger and cinnamon in this blend and I hope you enjoy a even balance of spices. If you want it spicier please add more fresh ginger to your chai!   

Deep Wellness

Ingredients: Echinacea, Lemonbalm, Elderberry, Elecampane, Eucalyptus, Yerba Santa, Licorice, Slippery Elm, Spearmint

This is a new wellness tea that I created for those with cold symptoms that seem to linger. I drank a ton of this tea when I was making it and almost instantly felt a drying effect on my lungs and sinuses. Even though I was not sick, the tea had cleared stagnant mucus build-up in my nose, throat, sinuses, and lungs. That being said, you can use this tea to clear dampness or residual effects of a past cold or flu, as well as, to treat new colds and if you like the flavor as a protective measure. I suspect most people will like the flavor of my standard wellness tea (the one I sent out a couple months ago) better for general drinking.

Deep Wellness does have a drying effect so if you live in a dry climate, you probably wont not need to drink many cups a day unless you have a cold. If you do live in the southwest where the climate and enjoy cold drinks on warmer days, try making Deep Wellness as a sun tea or cold infusion, it is delicious!

Echinacea root much touted as a miracle cure for colds is best taken at first signs of a cold or flu. If you start to notice that sluggishness and aches of suppressed immunity take this tea or other echinacea supplements immediately and in seemingly large doses. For example, drink this entire packet of tea in one day. Echinacea has a strong bitter flavor which must be mediated with other herbs when using it in a tea, most of the teas I have tried with echinacea have extreme amounts of licorice root to overpower the bitterness of the echinacea root, I am not a fan of overly sweet teas, so I hope this tea is well balanced for you and not too bitter tasting.

Elderberry helps protect against flus and infections, it has anti-viral properties. It has been used for centuries to treat respiratory illnesses associated with colds, flus, and infections. I love the taste of blue elderberry (Sambucus cerulea) because it is more fruity than the black elderberry, I also find it more effective than the commercially available black elderberry (Sambucas nigra). I harvested and dried the blue elderberry in this tea in the last summer from mid elevation wild trees on the east side of the cascades in northern Washington.

Elecampane is one of the roots that I grow on Old Chaser Farm on Vashon Island, WA. It has a strong affinity for the lungs and is able to clear congestion in the lungs and lower throat. It is used in western herbalist, TCM, and Ayurveda to treat bronchitis and asthma. Elecampane has actions which are expectorant, anti-fungal, anti-tussive, warming. Because it is relaxing to tissues it can soothe the bronchial tube lining as it acts as an expectorant for clearing the lungs. I wanted to make delicious throat lozenges this fall from my elecampane and angelica roots but missed my opportunity, so I have to wait until next fall’s crop.

Eucalyptus and Yerba Santa support respiratory health. Eucalyptus is the main ingredient in many herbal chest rubs for kids and adults with deep chest colds. In tea form, it has a nice menthol character that helps clear mucus blockages in the sinuses and chest. It also has an uplifting aroma which help brighten the mood. Yerba santa is native to much of the southern cascade mtns and sierras. It is typically used for respiratory health. I adore it for it’s rich aromatic resins that smell terrific. I more often use it lightly for fragrance than for a strong herbal action.

Licorice, Lemonbalm, Spearmint, and Slippery Elm are used in this blend as supporting herbs. Licorice in larger quantities strengthens immunity, in this blend it is more for flavor and soothing a sore throat. Lemonbalm in a nervine herb that does has anti-viral properties. I wanted to include it in the blend to help support nervous system health, especially when you might be feeling a bit weak or fatigued from a cold. Spearmint is more for flavor and aromatics to help clear sinus congestion and remove excess heat if there is any. Slippery elm is a slightly sweet herb that when steeped helps sooth inflamed tissues in the mouth and throat. It is great for sore throats and soothing tissues in the throat, especially if you have a cough.

December Newsletter

Winter hit hard for most of the country this month, if you have been experiencing snow and ice I hope you are able to stay inside, relax with a hot cup of tea, and enjoy a little down time. May your table during the holidays be filled with all your loved ones! 

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Allow your daily Bird’s Eye Tea ritual to lift your spirits, increase energy and immunity, and keep you motivated to make it through the last of these cold dark days to get what you need to get done done. December is a month of winter planning and fun. I want to wish you a love and cheer filled holiday! Thanks for letting my teas be a little slice of your day!

If you are still looking for some stocking stuffers please do not hesitate to order from my NEW website: Harbor Herbalist. A big thanks to my partner David for helping me get it up and running. I have lots of teas to choose from, as well as, a few skin care products from my bourgeoning skin care line.

As you all know, buying handmade organic herbal products have the potential to make a huge positive impact on the health of the recipient! Plus my herbal tea packaging is compostable so you can rest assured the whole product will return nutrients back to the soil from which it came.

I am overwhelmed with gratitude that you invest in Bird’s Eye Tea each month! Thank you for allowing me to live out my vision for a much richer and more diverse landscape while supporting healthy humans at the same time! 

Winter Solstice Tea

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This tea is a great tea for December. Hopefully you can have some introspective meaningful time on the solstice (December 21st) with a hot cup of Winter Solstice. It is a good time to appreciate the shortest day of the year! Yay! You made it through 6 months of physical and emotional contraction as the days were getting shorter. On December 22nd we transition toward expansive lengthening energy again. I love winter solstice. We live in a time and place where we do not fear starvation in the deep winter, so we are able to experience and celebrate winter solstice very differently than our ancestors. I personally experience solstice as a celebration of darkness with a silver lining that longer days are coming. Having gratitude for more day light everyday can definitely help us maintain optimism and emotionally overcome the winter blues as deep winter sets in.  

Winter Solstice Tea is slightly evocative of holiday spice blends but also has some of the characteristically deep earthy evergreen energy of dense northern conifer forests.

The light slightly aromatic Douglas fir needles have a mild citrus flavor and creates the red hue in the tea. Doug Fir is a good source of Vitamin C and is just so darn delicious. You can harvest Douglas fir needles yourself if you have a tree in your yard. The young spring tips are best for cooking and making a slightly sweeter tea, but the mature foliage can still be harvested after a big wind storm when big limbs fall. Use the needles fresh or remove them from stem and dry for later use. If you decide to dry the needles in a dehydrator you will be pleased with the vivid aroma of christmas for several days while the needles are drying. Make sure your dehydrator is on the lowest heat setting. 

Fenugreek provides the maple-like sweetness in this blend. In western herbalism, it is best known for its use as a galactagogue herb, supporting nursing mother with their milk supply. Fenugreek is more commonly used as a spice in many indian curry dishes with its slightly bittersweet flavor. It also helps decrease digestive complaints from rich spicy foods. The cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and nutmeg are characteristic holiday spices that we so often associate with tasty treats. I recommend drinking Winter Solstice with a meal as a digestif!

Fire Earth Mother

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This tea has been in my arsenal for many years, but I have been going back and forth for two years as to whether I wanted to use it for Bird’s Eye Tea or not. Smokey teas can be difficult for some people to enjoy, but I tried to balance the smokey flavor to create a well rounded palate pleasing tea. There is so much complexity in this tea! I hope you are able to sit peacefully and embrace the complexity with a sense of intrigue and fun. What does this tea remind you of? So many memories come to mind what I drink Fire Earth Mother.

Lapsong Souchong tea hails from the Wuyi Mountains in SE China. The leaves for this tea are the last pickings from the tea plants for the season. These leaves lack some of the luster and complexity of the earlier pickings which makes them a perfect candidate for being smoked over pine needles. Most often Lapsong Souchong is considered a “Western” tea that is primarily exported from China to the west. I adore lapsong souchong when it is blended with other herbs. It creates such nice smokey notes in a blend similar to a fine bourbon. I tend to love teas that are made with roasted or smoked herbs because they have warm energy without being spicy.

Tulsi and gotu kola are often in my blends together, they support brain health providing a wonderful mental boost. Tulsi also aids in digestion. The aromatics in peppermint dance together beautifully above the cup with the smokey tea. Licorice adds just enough sweetness to brighten the flavor of the tea so you can clearly taste all the respective parts as they register upon the palate. This tea reminds me of preserved foods and time spent in Asian markets throughout the world.      

Bright Calm

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Bright calm is an afternoon or evening repose tea. It will calm and restore nerves. A cup of this mineral and vitamin rich tea can help repair tattered emotions or a sense of being warn out. I often feel run down at various stages during the holidays and I rely on soothing teas to keep me from overdoing it. There are times when you must be high energy, even if you do not feel like it, at the end of those days please drink this tea and then allow yourself a deep restorative sleep.   

❤ November Newsletter ❤

 I bet you are going through your teas a little faster now that chilly and/or wet weather has set it. Most of the leaves have fallen in my yard thanks to a couple of rambunctious wind storms recently. The farmers market last Saturday got shut down after two hours. Whirling gusts were coming in lifting our weighted canopy tents off the ground as if they were as light as kids umbrellas. It’s amazing no one got hurt and I didn’t lose any of my delicate tea cups that are incorporated into my tea display.

November is one of my favorite months. Generally the wettest month in the Pacific Northwest. We have such lush landscapes because of months like November. Temperatures drop dramatically in late October and November laying down a thick base layer of snow and ice in the mountains. This cold wet November weather is in part the price we pay for strong robust rivers and fresh clean drinking water all year round.

I live on the waterfront in the house I grew up in, so much of my life has been spent being in contact with and in awe of water: right now I am looking out at the rain beating horizontally onto the windows with low clouds descending down upon the dark cold waters of the Puget Sound.

I find a deep satisfaction when I get outside and move around in the wet fall weather, my achy joints loosen with exercise, and I feel invigorated by cold rain on the skin of my face and hands. But I also love to sit inside to rest, read, write, and create new products during these dark wet times of year. I am highly inspired by the rich ideas and memories I have created during the brighter lighter times of the year. During the late fall I finally get to look back and put all the memories together in a more connected tapestry. The daily hard work of wildcrafting and farming is pretty much over for the year. Now I get to slow down and enjoy processing and combining the plants into many forms that can build optimal health and healing.

Last week I harvested a couple hundred pounds of acorns. Here is a neat photo of them laid out for drying. 

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Thanksgiving is coming up at the end of the month. It is a great time to share your mad cooking skills and gratitude with your family and friends. We are extremely lucky to be living in North America where there is incredible abundance of many varieties. But we must also come to terms with the facts of our colonial history and the impacts of our way of life on the peoples that came before us and the landscape we live within. We are the stewards of ourselves and the lands we inhabit. It is the choices we make in our lives that create the types of abundance we leave behind for future generations.

I am incredibly thankful for each and every one of you! My life has been enriched by the opportunity to create incredible personal and seasonal teas. By drinking these healing Bird’s Eye Teas you allow me to pursue sustainable land tending practices and to more fully support other small organic medicinal plant farmers in my area. Happy Thanksgiving!

Mulling Spices

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Ingredients: Cloves, Nutmeg, Anise seed, Orange Zest, Cinnamon, Astragalus, Cardamom, vanilla bean

Steeping:

In Wine: Combine one bottle of red wine and 1/2 package of Mulling Spices in a lidded saucepan. Simmer on low for 10-30 minutes. Pour through a strainer directly into cups or into a thermal serving vessel. Try adding a touch of honey into each cup if desired.  

In Apple Cider: Combine 4 cups apple cider and 4 teaspoons Mulling Spices in a lidded saucepan. Simmer on low of 10-30 minutes. Pour through strainer directly into cups or a tea pot and enjoy.

••• TRY GRATING A THUMB NAIL SIZED PIECE OF FRESH GINGER FOR A LITTLE EXTRA SPICE TO EACH BATCH

Mulling spices are such good fun. I sent them in part based on a customer request who absolutely loved making spiced cider for her family each Sunday last year. Her request for mulling spices reminded me of why I think mulling spices are so great. Generally, we mostly share spiced wine and cider with our family and friends. 

If you are stuck on what to bring to a party, remember this little package of mulling spices you were sent…it is so fun to share mulled drinks with friends over good conversation.   

Astragalus has been added to this version of mulling spices for a little extra immune support. Astragalus is also a sweet tasting adaptogen herb to help manage stress as your thanksgiving feast comes together. Other than the added astragalus, this is a nice standard mulling blend.  I hope this robust combination of herbs brightens your spirits and warms you through and through. Cinnamon, cloves, orange zest and cardamom have a warming effect on the body and have a carminative effect on the digestive system (relieve gas). It feels good to drink strong aromatic drinks during the winter months as they are can be really good tonics for maintaining good digestion, staying warm, and supporting immunity.

Most of us have fond memories of spiced cider from our past, just the thought and smell of mulled cider can put us in a great mood.

I decided to add the recipe for the basic blend because it is so easy to make and you can make your own if you really want to. All the organic spices can probably be easily be found in the bulk section of a natural food market in your area. 

This recipe will spice 6-8 cups of liquid

  • Whole or slightly crushed Clove: 1 tsp
  • Cardamom: 1 tsp 
  • Cinnamon: 2 tsp
  • Nutmeg: 1/2 crushed seed
  • Anise seed or Star Anise: 2 tsp (I usually just use anise seed because I grow it. But star anise is more typically used)
  • Orange zest: 1 tsp or zest from one fresh medium orange
  • Vanilla bean: 1/4 bean or .5 tsp vanilla extract
  • Optional:
  • Astragalus: 1 tsp 
  • Rose hips: 1 tsp

ENJOY!

Lift The Grey 

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Ingredients: Earl Grey Tea, Clove, Vanilla bean, Lemongrass, Rose Petals

Steeping instructions: Use milk or water. Pour 1.5 cups hot milk or water over 1-2 tsp tea. Steep 4-7 minutes. Add a touch of honey.

Inspired by the view from my home that I described earlier. Sometimes it is nice to have a tea that can help you rise above the grey in the form of actual clouds or mental fog. The rich citrus tones from the lemongrass and bergamot provide an almost immediate uplift and energize. Our mind perks up as we smell and sip this tea…let yourself be washed over with deep satisfaction and self love. The rich aromatic tones from the clove increase circulation. The rose and vanilla bean create a lovely comforting accent. Get your day off to a great start with this energizing blend.

The organic fair-trade certified earl grey comes from India. The tea leaves are grown, harvested, and processed in India. The black tea leaves are then mixed with Bergamot essential oil that is grown and manufactured in Italy.  

This tea is so much about aromatherapy. Warm floral, citrus, and clove tones are comforting and help transform sluggishness into movement and clarity. 

Wellness Tea

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Ingredients: Ginger, Cardamom, Yarrow, Elder Flower, Peppermint, Licorice

Steeping Instructions: Pour 1.5 cups hot water over 1-2 tsp tea. Steep 4-7 minutes. Longer steep brings out the sweet licorice.  

This is a staple from my Harbor Herbalist Tea collection. I find it an almost perfect tea for the cold and flu season. I love drinking Wellness tea when I feel a little run down or can sense a cold coming on. If you drink a good strong cup of this blend from the onset of symptoms of illness you might just find yourself feeling good as new the next day. This tea is best used for managing acute colds, flus, and infections. 

Ginger relieves stomach aches and has a general immune strengthening action. Yarrow and peppermint can be used to break a fever by their diaphoretic action (helping a person to sweat). Elderflower and cardamom are anti-viral herbs. Elderflower is responsible for the teas musky fragrance and flavor. Licorice helps sooth sore throats and strengthens the immune system.  

This tea has a great flavor that is sweet, spicy, a touch musky from the elderflower, and slightly bitter. I feel heated when I drink Wellness tea. If you get caught outside in the rain and wind unprepared, Wellness tea can warm you right back up. And make sure you have a cup ready if you work with little kids or want to avoid that “thing going around the office” during the winter.

October Tea Selections

It feels like fall now. Windy storms are interspersed with glorious sunny days in the pacific NW. Each day I see more yellow across the tree line and my yard is beginning to become littered with tattered fallen leaves. I absolutely love the fall, I prefer a bit of chill in the air, especially in the morning. 

I distinctly noticed last weekend at the farmers market that bright juicy summer tomatoes, berries, and stone fruits are quickly being replaced by tough mother pumpkins and squashes. I especially enjoyed the sensual juxtaposition of the final week of chile roasting by River Farm and steaming kabocha squash by Mair Farms. The mixing of scents was divine.

October is the height of the fall harvest season with corn, squash, apple, and pear galore. To keep up excitement as the days quickly shorten and the bright colors of summer wane, we can merrily catalog and appreciate our bounty. If you do not have time to garden or wander in the wild for mushrooms, you can take time to appreciate what you do have and how good you have it.

I especially like trading goods with friends and neighbors this time of year. You should check to see if there is a neighborhood harvest barter party near you, create one if there is none. At these gatherings you can have some tea and snacks with neighbors while trading preserved foods you have made and adding some diversity to your larder. I am a junky for giving edibles to others, regardless of occasion or season. I’m pretty sure my subconscious mind sits around all day and schemes ways to create delicious edible abundance. 

During October it is fun to celebrate the end of harvest season and welcome in the introspective period associated with winter. Samhain, a folk celtic celebration on October 31st is an example of such a celebration. Halloween is a long departed derivative of Samhain. Traditionally, in celtic culture and many other agrarian cultures in northern climates October is the month livestock were brought back from summer pastures and many plump animals were slaughtered for the winter food supply. Big celebrations were held to invite ancestors to the table to share in the bounty. Because much of our plant brethren are dying or going into hibernation as fall turns to winter this is a perfect time to acknowledge the dead. By creating a symbolic doorway to welcome our ancestors we can honor and create a rich and healthy relationships with our history, oneself, and family. I think a lot about all my relations in the fall, it just seems like the right time to honor my deepest human connections. Friends and family past and present are what bring great joy to our lives as the cool dark days arrive. 

On another note, I hope you all enjoy the teas I created for October! May they keep you warm and healthy this month! Forgive me if the instant chai is a little gritty. This was my first attempt at making an instant tea. I learned that if I want to make a set of instant teas I definitely need to have the herbs ground a bit finer than what I currently use. Using whole milk makes for a more dissolved tea (those fat molecules are big and dense enough to carry the individual herb particles), if you use water or nonfat milk it is likely that the herbs will fall to the bottom of the cup, but it still tastes delicious. It is a work in progress, not perfect…yet. It is not intended to be a spicy chai, but has a bright lovable flavor none the less..  

Now, for the stars of the show:

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Golden Garden

Ingredients: Ancient Golden Yunnan Tea, Cardamom, and Lavender


A super way to steep Golden Garden is in hot or steamed milk with a touch of honey. All the best of the spice, floral, and rich tones will come a life in frothy sweet milk. The black tea is hand harvested from Yunnan’s ancient tea forests, then expertly fermented to bring out rich malty and pepper tones. These characteristics pair well with crushed cardamom pods and lavender blossoms. I hope you appreciate smooth character of this black tea. It lacks much of the astringency and bitterness of most black teas, so those with more sensitive palates will appreciate the subtlety. You might need a little caffeine boost as the days get cooler and darker. 

Cardamom compliments the spicy tones in the tea while the lavender adds a lovely floral contrast.

Golden teas are wonderful for the fall. They are not as dark as many black teas due to very precise fermentation of the tea. They have a shorter fermentation time than Ceylon or Assam. This makes them a nice fall transition tea.  

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Immuni-tea

Ingredients: Reishi mushroom, Astragalus, Codonopsis, Fenugreek, Dandelion Root, Burdock Root, Cinnamon, Fennel, Ginger, Allspice


This is a powerhouse tea, no doubt about it. It is more than just an immune tonic, it also supports the liver, kidneys, digestive system, and adrenals. We need our entire bodies to stay in balance during the fall and winter so we can effectively prevent colds and flus. It is better to get ahead now than fight symptoms and sickness later. Pretty much everything in this blend except the allspice and fenugreek are herbs I try to include in blends on a regular basis. 

One of the great things about being part of Bird’s Eye Tea is that because you get many of these herbs in different combinations regularly, your body is getting the long-term benefits of some of the more tonic herbs. The flavor of Immuni-tea is somewhat subdued, I mostly taste sweet and earthy tones, sweet fennel, the syrupy tones of fenugreek, and cinnamon linger in my mouth long after I sip.  

Because this tea is not intended to nurse you back to health if you already have a cold or acute infection, I will be sending out a wellness tea soon. This goes without saying, but Immuni-tea works best if you are already treating yourself right by getting plenty of sleep, regular exercise, and eating a healthy diet. 

Reishi, astragalus, and codonopsis are three adaptogen herbs that help the body resist a stress response and will increase overall energy and immunity through regular use. Stress can lower immunity and create a opening for illness, by strengthening your resistance to many types of stress your immunity will flourish. I love the combination of reishi, astragalus, and codonopsis because they taste great together and as a group they help reduce adrenal fatigue, boost immunity, increase energy, and improve digestion. If you are interested in learning more about adaptogens there is an easy to read insightful book called Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief by David Winston. I learned a lot of what I know about adaptogens from this book.    

Dandelion root and burdock root are premier tonic herbs for the liver and kidneys. I use them in my detox blends to help improve the function of the liver and kidneys. It is easy to forget how much work the liver and kidneys do filtering all your blood and removing wastes all day every day. Clearing the body of toxins will improve immunity.    

Ginger, cinnamon, fenugreek, fennel, and allspice add zip to the flavor but also improve digestion and help keep you warm.

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Happy Heart

Ingredients: Hawthorn leaf, berry, and flower, Linden leaf and flower, Peppermint, Nettle, Rosehips, Cinnamon, Bacopa, Orange zest. 


Happy Heart is a unique tea that protects the cardiovascular system and supports the emotional heart. Hawthorn is an excellent restorative for the heart and circulatory system, specifically it increases arterial circulation and helps lower bad cholesterol levels. Hawthorn is lesser known for its ability to calm the nerves and can ease tight feelings in the chest related to emotional tension or anxiety. Linden, sometimes referred to as lime flower, is another fabulous restorative herb for the nervous system and supports the action of the hawthorn.

Together linden, nettle, and hawthorn synergize to sooth tense nerves and protect the cardiovascular system. A touch of mint and citrus help brighten the taste of Happy Heart. Hawthorn and cinnamon both enable blood circulation all the way to the tips of your fingers and toes. Sluggish circulation on a cool fall morning can be remedied by drinking Happy Heart. Bacopa was added to provide a mental boost, so wake up, warm up, and drink up with this morning brew! 

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Take note of how attractive hawthorn is. With her beautifully lobed leaves, gorgeous white flowers, and bright red fruits. But one must be very careful as hawthorn is extremely protective of herself with large sharp thorns along each branch. Whenever I harvest hawthorn I get pricked and snagged on the branches, this reminds me of hawthorns protective energy.    

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September Newsletter

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The above photo is a gorgeous fall expression by Saipua.

Here we are in September, and to many of us a landmark turning point in our year. From the relative ease and lightness of summer toward a “back to grind” kind of attitude. Many of you are probably heading back to school or have kids who are heading back to school, which brings a sense of foreboding (or excitement and freedom as you drop your kids off at their first day of school). 

September is a transition month. Autumn equinox later this month signals the shift from summer to autumn. We naturally feel a need to begin preparations for winter in a vast array of ways. Our bodies begin a stage of protection as cooler weather can be felt in the morning and evening breeze. Emotionally we might be a little edgy as we are letting go of the outward joys of summer and preparing for more introspective energy.

If we lived as our ancestors did, we would be busy during september harvesting and processing as much food as we could for winter. We would also be busy preparing our winter wardrobe by making and repairing winter necessities. September is and has been a busy month for many many generations. We have a strong innate calling toward planning and preparing this time of year.

As autumn begins to make its appearance it is a good opportunity to establish healthful routines that can carry you into and out of winter. By creating family or personal routines, you can ease into the groove, rather than starting something new mid-winter. Many people try starting new patterns around the new year, but I find it easier to start as the weather begins to change in autumn. Practicing new skills in the fall keeps my mind upbeat, elastic, and sharp.     

In Jessica Prentice’s book, Full Moon Feast she refers to the period from the full moon in September to the full moon in October as Corn Moon, a term to describe this wonderful time of year where collection of corn or other grains, seeds, and fall berries dominates daily activities of those of self reliant cultures. Corn being the most important crop to many native peoples living in the americas. In Europe it was referred to as Grain Moon. In semi-nomadic and agrarian communities much of the health and vitality of the community was reliant on the fall harvests.

When your family or community is dependent on the plants you grow or harvest from, there is a sacred appreciation and interconnected relationship between you and these foods. You feel a direct reliance on plants and they rely heavily on you, a friendship is created between you and these plants. Special care is taken when tending plants throughout the year and harvesting is done by hand with loving affection and gratitude. Harvest festivals, usually occurring in October and November are community celebrations giving thanks for the abundance the earth provided this year, as well as, a farewell to the plants as they go into dormancy for the winter. I find myself already saying goodbye to many plants this month as I collect herb seeds for next years gardens. I am so proud of any of you who have gardens big or small! Most of the hard work is over and as you harvest your fruits, vegetables, and seeds you are bidding farewell to the plants as their energy heads down deep into the earth. The are finally getting the rest and sleep they deserve for all the hard work you have done together. And with the days getting shorter you can also give yourself some rest and sleep longer. 

I spend a great deal of time in September and October harvesting seeds, berries, nuts, and fruits. I try to always only harvest as much as I think I will use and make sure I leave enough for all the other animals that rely on those same plants during the winter. 

Here is a lovely print of Autumn Equinox made by one of my customers Holli Zollinger. Holli is an amazing artist, she actually designed the Bird’s Eye Tea logo you see every month.

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I hope some of my musings are food for thought.

This months teas are a bit of a mixed bag, I am taking a few risks this month with a kava blend. In many parts of the country the heat continues to linger a bit longer and we are forced to head back to school or work which adds mental stress to ones life. These teas are designed to give you what you need to refresh your mind, body, attitude, and nervous system this month.   

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REFRESH

Ingredients: Kukicha Gold, Ginger, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Fennel, Clove, Eleuthro, Burdock, Chaga Mushroom, and Spearmint

Steeping Instructions: You can either lightly simmer the herbs in a combination of milk and water for 5 min or steep in hot water for 5-7 min. This tea benefits from a small amount of honey added to it. My sister informed me that she thinks it tastes better without milk. Be courageous and try it with or without milk. :) 

This tea is a nice blend for fall. It can be quite refreshing on a cool morning as a hot tea or iced on a warm afternoon. The base of this tea is a aromatic masala chai (ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, fennel, and clove). I decided to try using roasted kukicha twig tea, rather than black tea. I like almost all roasted herbs in small quantities, they add deep richness to the flavor and this one is almost sweet. Even herbs that are energetically cooling can take on a bright warm character once roasted.

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Kukicha is particularly popular in Japan, it is very low in caffeine, which can be a good thing if your life is in transition and stress gets the best of you. Caffeine can stir up any anxieties and add fuel to the fire if you feel overwhelmed. But a little caffeine can also just help get the body moving if you need a good push. Eleuthro, also called 'siberian ginseng', has energizing ginseng-like effects. As an adaptogenic herb eleuthro helps replenish a depleted nervous system and enables your body to better combat the damaging effects of stress. It is particularly useful in athletic types who suffer from muscle fatigue and soreness. Eleuthro can also be very useful in restoring mind-body balance. I sometimes have a restless mind which causes me to tense my muscles, so I often forgo caffeinated teas and regularly drink a stress reduction blend with eleuthro each morning. I find I have less muscle tightness and have a lot more energy over time than if I drink caffeine. 

Burdock is added for a little detoxification and nourishment in the kidneys. Chaga mushrooms are high in antioxidants and have a generalized tonic effect on the body. Mint is something that many of my family members and friends really like in aromatic spiced blends. I added mint to Refresh to do just what the tea is named for, add a refreshing aspect. Plus I wanted to give the people what they want. I am always excited to get recommendations or tips about what my customers feel they need. 

Cool Kava

Contraindicated if you are nursing or pregnant.      

Ingredients: Kava, Milky Oats, Lemongrass, Ginger, Licorice, and Rose Hips

Steeping Instructions: Cold infusion is ideal! Combine 1-2 tsp tea and 1.5 cups cold water in a mason jar with a lid. Stick in the fridge for 4-8 hrs. Strain and enjoy cold or can be warmed to room temperature. It is totally okay to do a hot infusion if you are in a hurry.

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imageKava is a gorgeous plant that grows throughout Polynesia including Hawaii. When I lived in Hawaii, a few times I went to kava bars where they serve cold cups of kava. Made from soaking the fresh root in a big wooded bowl overnight. It is often served in coconut shell bowls of different sizes. You can choose from different varieties that locally grow, as each island has several special varieties. My first kava experiences were not great. A strong cold infusion of fresh root has the look of murky muddy water and tastes not much better. To add discomfort, strong kava extractions have a numbing effect on the inside of your mouth. I never really got used to fresh kava extractions, I found it too strong for me.

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Photo above: man pouring a cup of kava; women with a kava bowl, Samoa, c.1899-1940

I like herbs that calm muscles, kava does this. I appreciate the traditional way in which kava is prepared and shared in Polynesia. I still personally prefer it in a tea like Cool Kava where the kava is very subtle. 

Kava is used in clinical research for anxiety with good results. Over the last few years I have read a lot of reports of kava being a factor in patients with liver damage, in all these cases people were taking concentrated kavalactone supplements that do not reflect the composition of the phytochemistry of the root itself. There have been zero instances of liver damage in people taking water extracts of fresh or dried kava root. Kava has been drank daily by people in Polynesia for 3000 years.

A few years ago I went to listen to Ed Smith one of the original owners of Herbpharm talk about his experiences traveling in Polynesia looking for Kava sources. He told us that the people he met drink kava almost every night and drinking over 20 cups in an evening was completely normal. 

Many years after I moved away from Hawaii, I was a busy student suffering from test anxiety in science classes. I would get really worked up over every test and I had at least one test every week. It was so stupid, because I got straight A’s. But none the less, the idea of being tested gets under my skin and so I made a kava tea similar to Kava Cool the day before a test and on test day. I found it worked great to calm the physical stress associated with test anxiety, but allowed my mind to function perfectly. The underlying cause of the test anxiety still needed to be addressed, but in a pinch kava worked like a dream.

This blend is a smooth blend of bright lemongrass, earthy kava, nourishing oats, spicy ginger, tangy rose hips, rosemary, and sweet licorice root. It is a well balanced blend to brighten mood and calm muscles.  

Mindspring!

Ingredients: Gotu Kola, Tulsi, Green Rooibos, Peppermint, Codonopsis, Sage, and Licorice root

Steeping instructions: Pour 1.5 cups hot water over 1-2 tsp tea. Steep 5-7 minutes. 

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Mindspring is a good tea to drink as you leave your summer vacation behind and get your mind back into shape  for learning and mental work. Perfect for the transition from summer to fall. It is an energizing mental boost tea. I generally create some version of this tea in the transition from winter to spring, then again in the transition from summer to fall. Every once in a while, or if you are like me, all the time, we need teas that give extra cheer and elasticity to our incredibly wondrous minds. 

As I have said many times before, tulsi has her way of bringing youth and grace back to a tired mind. Gotu kola is a great mental boost herb. Often taken as a fresh juice in India to bring spark and dexterity to the mind. Codonopsis, a deliciously sweet root, is used as a substitute for asian ginseng. Codonopsis is actually more expensive than most of the herbs I use in teas, just not as expensive as asian ginseng, so I too reach for “poor man’s ginseng” most of the time. Codonopsis rejuvenates the nervous system and boosts immunity. Sage is an herb of wisdom. Green rooibos is less sweet and tangy as red rooibos. The are both the same plant, red rooibos is just the fermented version. Green rooibos is known for its high anti-oxidant levels and light zippy flavor. Licorice, an herb I like to think of as the deep river of replenishment. Licorice adds sweetness, stress reducing and immune boosting properties…as well as, brings out the youthfulness in each of us.

Yayy! Happy sipping! Be well, Be brave, Be yourself! 

August Newsletter!

Hi!

Yesterday I went into an herb shop in Olympia, WA to buy my sister a gift. She has had a particularly challenging year, but has handled huge emotional and physical transitions with a relentless optimism and grace. Her deep commitments to support human life and embrace nature alike seem to allow a deep current of wisdom to run through her multifaceted life as a midwife, mother, herbalist, and gardener.

On my way to the book section of the herb shop I passed the card section and was immediately captivated by this card, which seemed to speak directly to me, and perhaps, you…

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I immediately noticed my racing brain and shallow breaths, so I took a long deep breath and exhaled.

I was struck by the memory of how relaxing and fun it is to sink low into the earths surface and gaze in awe at the immensity of our universe. My mind is consistently a buzz with ideas and projects and endless excitement for things I want to do. But what my body is begging me to do most of the time during midsummer is rest…especially on super hot days. How wondrous does a cool rest in the grass and a twilight star gaze sound? DO IT!   

The above print was made by Nikki McClure. I adore all of her work and encourage you to buy her monthly calendar each year, it is hugely inspiring and creative. Nikki hand cuts each of her images out of a single sheet of paper! So much patience and love must go into each image.

The book I knew I wanted to get my sister was The Secret Teachings Of Plants: The Intelligence of the Heart in the Direct Perception of Nature by Stephen Harrod Buhner. It is about perception of nature through the intelligence of the heart. Stephen Buhner is very famous in the herbal world and writes books on a myriad of topics, some more esoteric than others. But his books have inspired thousands of people to work to become amateur naturalists, herbalists, and develop a deep heart intelligence that communicates directly with energetic aspects and voices of plants. Directly sensing plants and the healing stories they share is a skill that we can all develop, one that most people in our culture has simply forgotten. Wouldn’t it be cool if we all refocused our energy and relearned the wild connections we have to other living things? I constantly think about how I can relate with plants more and have a deep understanding of how to live in right relations with every landscape I exist in. 

Onward toward tea talk…I really wanted to create three blends that were unique and captivated the joys in life. Summer is supposed to be a time of ease, so please enjoy your teas and relax a bit this month. I encourage you to make sun or iced tea with any of these blends.

You can even make tea popsicubes if you are so inclined. Simply steep the herbs in juice and pour into an ice tray and freeze. You can place a popsicle stick in each cube for easy eating. We usually just drop a couple cubes into a bowl and eat with our fingers. We also add smashed berries for added deliciousness.

Also, I have been exploring using cooler water temperatures with herbal infusions lately…thanks to my partners friend who has a cool electric kettle that can be programmed to heat water to any temperature below boiling you want. I think the infusion strength tastes and feels better when water is heated to between 180-193 degrees. Many vitamins and minerals are damaged by high temperatures. It is common for me to boil water then let it sit for 5 minutes before I steep tea which leaves you with water that is ~194. 

Floral Focus

Ingredients: High Mountain Oolong, Osmanthus Flowers

Steeping Instructions: This tea can me made into a hot or cold infusion!

Cold Infusion: Combine 1.5 cups water and 1 tsp tea  in a mason jar with a lid. Keep in fridge overnight. Strain and enjoy. Cold green teas often taste great with a touch of honey.

Hot infusion: Pour 1.5 cups hot water over 1 tsp tea. Steep 4 minutes. strain and reserve the herbs. This tea can be resteeped up to 4 times. Just make sure your hot water about ten degrees below boiling when you steep.

Floral focus is a truly wonderful tea. This tea is from steep often cloud covered mountains of Taiwan. Harvested in mid-spring its flavor carries some resemblance to its ecosystem. With hints of orchid like and gardenia aroma, I imagine the flavor derives from the misty spring air that circulates around and between each and every leaf on the tea plantations. High mountain oolong teas are painstakingly processed to bring out the sweet floral character and remove the bitter flavors (tannins) using oxidation and heat at various stages.  

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High Mountain Oolong teas are quite expensive, and some of the most prized teas in Asia. Each whole leaf is carefully rolled, the very most expensive oolongs are still hand rolled in silk or nylon bags in a traditional manner and would fetch over $150 per pound. Mid-grade oolongs like the one you received is most likely rolled using a small rolling machine that is simultaneously drying the tea.

The entire process from harvest to the dried rolled leaves of an oolong tea is hugely labor intensive. I found this cool blog that has a really good descriptive account of the process, also where I got the picture you see above. Read all about it and you will surely appreciate your tea even more!  OOLONG TEA PROCESSING 

Osmanthus flowers are on my top 10 list for fragrance, up there with gardenia and lilac. I think Osmanthus flowers pair really well with the sweet smooth taste and aroma of the oolong. Osmanthus infused tea (Which is produced in a similar manner as a jasmine green tea) is not entirely uncommon in Asia but is very hard to get ones hands on without a direct relationship with someone on the ground there in the tea industry. So I simply added to adorable white flowers to one of my favorite oolong teas. Osmanthus is a shrub from Asia, but is a common exotic in many western countries.

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It’s often referred to as Sweet Olive Plant (Osmanthus fragrans) and I have seen it used for hedging in gardens and yards in the USA. I want to grow this plant because I desire the fragrance to rise on a warm day into my home and catch me by surprise and bring forth serenity with every microscopic molecule of essential oil. I have a deep romance with Osmanthus and love the uplifting nature of its flowers.

Floral Focus may in fact distract you from a task you are working on…but think of it as an opportunity to focus on yourself or the person you are sharing your tea with. Let the energizing tea carry you toward a friend with whom you share and learn.   

Xocolatl

Ingredients: Raw Cacao Powder, Roasted Cacao Nibs, Ginger, Cinnamon, Anise, Chamomile, Mint, Tulsi, and Rose

Steeping Instructions: Can be made into a hot or iced tea. I recommend the iced tea!

For Iced Tea: Pour 3/4 cup hot water over 1-2 tsp tea. Steep 5-10 minutes. Strain. Add 1 spoon honey. Refrigerate. Once chilled add 3/4 cup milk (dairy or non-dairy) and a few ice cubes.

For Hot Tea: combine 3/4 cup milk and 3/4 cup water in a saucepan. Bring to low simmer. Pour hot liquid over 1-2 tsp tea. Steep 5-10 min. Strain. Add 1 tsp honey.

Xocolatl is a rich herbal tea that provides you with feel-good energy and your cells with a balance of minerals and anti-oxidants. Raw cacao is a wonderful superfood that enhances and is enhanced by other delicious herbs and spices such as chiles, cinnamon, rose, and mints. I am always captivated by the tide of flavor infusing herbs and raw cacao together into hot water or milk create. It’s a flavor tapestry that is joyful and curious like wearing perfume.

There is always so much to say about chocolate because it has a crazy history and is so prominent in our lives today, but I want to be relatively brief. Cacao has been an ancient medicine since Mayan and Aztec times. It is well known that cacao was incredibly sacred to the Maya and Aztecs, so much so, that it was reserved for special occasions and ceremony. Often mixed into a frothy tea with chiles, spices, and other medicinal or psychoactive herbs. Chocolate was used as a medium which works synergistically with the medicine as it travels through the body and mind of the drinker (1). 

This months xocolatl tea is a chance for us to meditate on cacao as a medicine and medium, not just easily accessible sweet treat. Sit with how Xocolatl makes you feel when you drink it and try to get a glimpse of why it was so sacred to pre-contact natives in central america. We often forget or don’t know that some stimulating substances like chocolate (and coffee) which are incredibly ubiquitous in our lives today were used very sparingly in the cultures from which they came. I very rarely drink or eat substances that are stimulating, so when I do I am completely captivated by the power these plants have on my body. I know physiologically what is happening in my body but it still feels like I am being overtaken by the energy of plant. I can completely embrace how use of such substances could be considered sacred. You and I simply grow up learning that it is normal and desirable to rely on powerful energizing plants whenever we want to feel elevated and super human for a short while.  

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The idea of sitting with how a tea makes you feel is like surrendering to a plant journey…which made me think of the above illustration. This illustration was made by Jenny Sue Kostecki. I have a few of Jenny’s prints. I like her whimsical style.

About twice a year I send out a raw cacao blend that is combined with herbs and spices. Cacao has a more sustained energetic effect than coffee or tea because main energizing alkaloid, theobromine, is metabolized much slower than caffeine. Cacao also has a mood elevating (“feel-good”) effect that coffee and tea lack. I blended the raw cacao with roasted nibs for a hint of that characteristic rosy roasted flavor that roasted cacao has. Below is a lovely picture of a cacao plant and cacao beans.  

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Many of your fellow Bird’s Eye Tea customers have consistently expressed their love for tulsi, so I decided to try blending it into Xocolatl. Tulsi is something I had never tried to blend with raw cacao before, it imparts and almost savory character to the tea which I found to be an exciting and interesting twist. I recommend drinking tulsi almost every day to support and balance the mind and the body. Its nutritive and balancing effect on the nervous system help enhance mental clarity while reducing the effects of daily stress on the body. Tulsi is a wonderful tonic herb for building your natural energy reserves, especially in people who sometimes feel frantic or overwhelmed by choices and desires in their lives.

Mints, rose, and chamomile are added to the tea to balance the stimulating effect of chocolate. Plus they taste great with cacao! Cinnamon, anise, ginger, and cayenne are very old companions with chocolate in southern mexico and central america. They are often found melding together in dark mole sauces and spicy desserts.    

I wrote an article about cacao a while back that you can read for more in depth information about the history and nutritional profile of chocolate: Cacao

Tummy Tea: drink with a balanced meal

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Ingredients: Dandelion root, Ginger root, Chamomile, Spearmint, Peppermint, Marshmallow, and Fennel

Steeping Instructions: This tea can be made into a hot, cold, or sun infusion.

Sun Tea: Combine 1-2 tsp tea and 2 cups water in mason jar with a lid. Place in a sunny spot for several hours. Drink sun warmed or refrigerate and drink cool.

Hot/Iced tea: Pour 1.5 cups hot water over 1-2 tsp tea. Steep 5-10 minutes. Add a touch of honey and refrigerate for iced tea. 

This is a soothing digestive tea. Helps stimulate digestion if you drink it before a meal and relieves digestive upset following a meal. Dandelion root and ginger both support your digestive fire, allowing quick food break down in your stomach, relieving pressure and transit time on your intestines. Having a strong digestive fire is essential for long-term digestive health. The quicker your food is digested the faster nutrients are readily available to your cells and the faster waste products are eliminated from the body. 18-24 hours is an ideal transit time, longer or shorter can be problematic.  

Sluggish digestion is more common than fast digestion because stress shunts blood away from the digestive system slowing digestion. It is important to rest your body and your brain after you eat to provide your digestive system with the energy it needs to do its job properly. Having a siesta after a meal, even if only for an hour is a great habit to get into if you can. I realize that siesta is pretty impossible for most of us, our work schedules simply don’t allow for long breaks after a meal, an hour is all we usually have to make lunch, eat, and get back to work. So at the very least drink digestive tea with your meal to give you your best shot at healthy digestion.

Mints and fennel help relieve gas and bloating. Chamomile is a digestive nervine that can strengthen digestion, she also calms the nervous system which supports healthy digestion.

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Mallow root (above is a botanical drawing of the aerial portions of marshmallow). It is a stunning plant, it looks as sweet and soothing as it tastes. Mallow is a wonderful mucilaginous herb that soothes inflamed tissues. For many of us, some of the foods we eat can cause inflammation and irritation to our esophagus and stomach. Mallow is often used in digestive blends to treat irritated tissues in the digestive system.          

July Newsletter!! Woot!

I kind of chuckle each month when the first phrase I always write down is “boy oh boy”…then I quickly erase it realizing that I can not start each newsletter exactly the same. 

I am so happy to be back writing this newsletter with a lot of excitement for teas and a heart full of joy for the energizing and wondrous powers of herbs. My energy reserves are fully charged. The last month has been full of amazing wild plant tending experiences and a fair amount of letting go of a distinct plan and exaggerated expectations.

For a couple years I have been immersed in a long process with my friends as we start a regenerative land tending cooperative. This year we are finally establishing the foundation for what is to come in the next many years. My continued efforts to get deeper and more knowledgeable about earth based technics and technologies is enabling me to more fully live in a regenerative relationship with the land.

My friends and I are planning several harvesting gatherings/workshops throughout summer and fall. Plus a winter social forestry camp on a 300 acre land project near the Siskyou crest in southern Oregon during the month of January in which we will work together to practice fuel load reduction and participate on controlled burns to support reestablishing a healthy oak woodland ecosystem on the land.

My herb garden on Vashon Island was an intensely woven tapestry of weeds when I got back after a month on the road. I have spent an insane amount of time weeding in the last couple weeks. But it is finally starting to look pretty good. Here is a picture from a week ago:

below: liberated mallows and ashwanghanda in the foreground…tall weeds in the background.

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Phew, thanks for supporting Bird’s Eye Tea, and a quick reminder that the profits from Bird’s Eye Tea goes straight back to important forestry and restoration work…not to mention supporting small independent medicinal plant growers and harvesters!  

I also want to share my happiness toward you guys who are hanging on during the summer months. I know it is a little harder to motivate to drink teas. Many of the summer teas I make are refreshing and support cardiovascular health and muscle recuperation. So jump and jog and swim and hike with as much gusto and joy that you’ve got…the herbs have got your back!

ICED CHAI

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Ingredients: Ginger, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Carob, Fennel, Eleuthro, Astragalus, Orange Zest, Codonopsis

Steeping Instructions: Combine 1-2 tsp tea and 1.5 cups water in a lidded saucepan. Simmer on low for 15-30 minutes. Strain. Refrigerate. Add 1 cup milk, a touch of honey or maple syrup, and some ice for a refreshing iced chai.

I have been wanting to make an athletes tea for many months, but have not arrived at the perfect combination of herbs to include quite yet. So this month I figured iced chai would be fun for you to make and I included a few herbs that support cardiovascular health and muscle recuperation.

This decaffeinated chai has eleuthro, which is a premier energizing herb for athletes because it helps increase stamina, endurance, and is highly touted for its ability to shorten muscle and joint recuperative time after exercise. I have used eleuthro a few other times in Bird’s Eye Tea blends and people have really liked them. It is an adaptogen herb that is also called Siberian Ginseng. It comes from extremely cold parts of Eastern Russia. I recommend regular use of this herb to people who engage in sports or endurance exercise. Over forty years of intense Russian and Chinese research into the benefits of this root it improve overal athletic performance is very convincing (1). Consider drinking this tea before or after exercise or days of robust muscle exertion. Ginger is anti-inflammatory and will help reduce joint pain. 

Most of the other herbs in this blend just help give you a unique spiced chai experience. A departure from traditional chai blends because I incorporated carob, astragalus, and eleuthro into the mix. 

Morrocan Mint (with a twist)

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Ingredients: Peppermint, Spearmint, Gunpowder Green Tea, Grand Fir Tips, and Vanilla bean (I forgot to include the vanilla bean on the tea label…sorry)

Steeping Instructions: Pour 1.5 cups hot water over 1-2 tsp tea. Steep 4-5 minutes. Strain. Refrigerate. Pour over Ice. Sweetener can be added to bring out the natural sweetness in the tea and mints.

Moroccan mint teas are usually just made with mint and green tea (plus lots of sugar), I added fir tips that I recently harvested from the Olympic Mountains near the Elwha River and real vanilla bean. If you have ever been to Morocco or many places in North Africa and Middle East you will often be served very very sweet mint tea. Traditionally fresh mint, green tea, and copious amounts of sugar are combined to create a refreshing tea that is drank with meals and at any social gathering. I encourage you to add fresh mint from your garden to this tea and make the tea as sweet as you like. I personally do not have a desire for strongly sweet teas, but I do like to add a little maple syrup to any cold teas I serve to friends or sell at farmers markets.

Here is a great picture of how Morrocan Mint tea is served authentically:

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I truly appreciate the combination of mint and green tea. And I hope you do too.

Hibiscus Cooler

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Ingredients: Hibiscus, Lemongrass, Linden, Cinnamon, Wild Berry  

Steeping Instructions: Pour 1.5 cups hot water over 1-2 tsp tea. Steep up to 10 minutes. Longer steep with provide a really strong tangy hibiscus flavor! Strain. Chill. Enjoy! 

This is an iteration of a tea I make for my mom to help support lowering blood pressure and supporting cardiovascular health. I hope you like this very fruity tea. I harvest wild native berries all summer long where I live. I usually make fruit leather out of most of them. The berry flavor in this tea come from chopped up dried fruit leather I made from native blackberry, thimble berry, black cap raspberry, huckleberry, and wild blackberry. I do not ever use liquid “natural flavoring” so I hope you can appreciate the actual berries themselves to give you a “wild berry” flavored tea experience. A very rare treat to have the actual berries in there… Wild berries are packed with vitamins and anti-oxidants. 

Hibiscus is a very safe and effective herb for folks battling high blood pressure. My sister and I had been trying to convince my mother to use hibiscus for her high blood pressure, but it was not until Dr. Oz began crusading hibiscus on his tv show that she became more interested.

Hibiscus is such a gorgeous plant! Well, most plants in the Mallow Family are strikingly beautiful. Visually known for its showy frilly trumpet shaped petals with exaggerated stamens and pistils that protrude dramatically from the horn shaped flowers. There are hundreds of varieties of hibiscus in all shapes and colors. The medicinal species we often use is a white flowered (red calyxed) variety called Hibiscus sabdariffa. The calyxes (a term that refers to a collection of sepals) are what is used for tea and culinary treats. After the flower blooms the sepals develop into accessory fruits that are harvested. This species is decidedly less showy than the ornamental varieties, it is also known as Roselle.

Below is a picture of red calyxes and one white flower.

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And a close up of the Calyxs after flowering. These are harvested for tea.

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After living in Hawaii for 7 years I still feel emotions of loss because I no longer see huge hibiscus plants each day. Hibiscus reminds me of the joy, flamboyance, and fertility of the earth. It reminds me to appreciate my own fertility. Hibiscus grows throughout tropic and many sub tropic regions of the world. Most cultures within those ranges have special foods and drinks made from hibiscus.

Hibiscus is rich in vitamin C, a natural diuretic, helps lower blood pressure, and is used as a natural refrigerant for the body on a hot day. I sometimes include it in menopausal blends for quelling persistent hot flashes. 

Cinnamon, lemongrass, and linden help balance the flavor adding a bit of refreshing aromatic and citrus notes.