Bird's Eye Tea Newsletter

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October Newsletter

The last few years weather patterns have been rather odd. It has been fun and way more challenging this year to identify the best tea blends for each month, since the edges of seasonal shifts are increasingly unpredictable. I feel I have created some really good seasonal teas and a few that were oddly timed. When I make seasonal blends as climate patterns change, I have to be very present, trusting my observations and intuition, rather than relying on past experiences and analytical information about timing and seasonal transitions.

Nature and ecology have been a lot more exciting in both good and bad ways as our planet is impacted by climate change. We are experiencing shifts in climate and conditions of resource scarcity in many parts of the world that impacts each and every one of us. With human population booms, land development, and a truly global transience of species, ecological changes in our lifetime have been profound and extremely fascinating. There is no shortage of important environmental issues and I feel there are plenty of ways for each of us to live in an intentional way in which we are constantly learning, aligning ourselves to the needs of our ecosystems, and adapting new strategies to restoring focus and balance in the places that we live.

Ecology within and outside our bodies are incredibly complex but certainly not impossible to understand and take responsibility for. Our survival as a species for the majority of our evolution relied on our ability to recognize how our bodies respond to and impact ecosystems. We survived, thrived, and evolved for most of our species’ history by establishing restorative ecosystem models and roles. By using our creative abilities to observe minute ecological details, just as our ancestors did, we have the ability to steward our gardens and the wilderness in ways that increase species diversity, create resilience, and support the natural flow patterns of resources such as water. We already know how to efficiently and sustainably manage all of our natural resources, it is just a matter of doing it.

Landscapes are like giant immune systems. The most resilient and diverse ecosystems are much more stable, healthy, and immune to devastating pathogens, pests, natural disasters, and resource shortages. Landscapes that lack biological diversity are often very unstable because they are consistently pressured by varies types of stress, which greatly lowers their immunity and ability to rebound. 

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Simply having a desire to develop a keen sense of observation of how your body responds to foods, herbs, social activities, and environmental shifts is a very effective way to begin to understand physiological patterns that create balance or imbalance in your own life. Making the choice to create deep relationships with plants and your body opens your mind and heart to your powerful role in social and ecological stewardship. In this country we get to choose the role we play in society and we have the power to be agents of healing and resilience, both inside and outside. It is never too late to begin developing a relationship with your place and using the space around you to foster diversity and wildness.

I personally have a desire to be a gardener, ecology enthusiast, and herbal tea maker. I do not have a lot of money, so I do not own my own land or live very close to the wilderness. I build relationships with landowners and make extra time for native ecological stewardship in my region. Each of us creates healing and resilience in our own unique ways. My medicinal gardens are on other peoples land and I basically think of myself as a steward of nature. I feel called to foster and create healthy ecosystems that provide enough food, shelter, and medicine for all the humans, birds, insects, microorganisms, etc that use the space. My pride and personal glory is not always in what percentage of herbs in my products I grow myself, but in the diversity and resilience of the landscapes that I spend my time in and taking responsibility for. The earth will provide all that you need, granted you listen to her teachings and pay attention to her basic needs.

This month I really wanted to express my gratitude and a sense of humbleness before Nature. I have had more health issues this year than I like to admit and I am constantly presented with messages from my body’s microbiome and my gardens. Because we live in an era where ecosystems are changing very quickly in response to various disturbances including climate change, it is important to sit with how the transitions are affecting your body and the place where you live. The unpredictability can be a little scary for many people, but do not lose hope, just learn about yourself and your place.

And one last but very important note: Autumn is a transitional season. There is a dramatic change in weather and plants are dying back or going into dormancy for the winter. Please realize that you are affected by these changes and make sure you are kind to yourself as your energy and thoughts go inward and become self reflective. 

P.S. Get lots of exercise!

Lavish Garden

Lavish Garden is a really smooth blend to get your body moving early in the day. Shorter days and blustery weather during fall often create tension and tiredness as our bodies have not fully adapted to the season. I hope this tea uplifts and helps increase energy as fall sets in. 

Ceylon black tea is grown and processed in Sri Lanka, an island off the southern tip of India. The climate is tropical but has very distinct wet and dry seasons. Ceylon tea has been commercially produced in the highlands of Sri Lanka since 1867. The tea is grown at elevations of close to 6,000 feet and the variety requires 36-42 inches of rain during it’s two monsoon seasons for high yields and quality. It is quite a beautiful scene to see tea plantations in Sri Lanka because the plants are grown along the geographical contours of the mountains. 

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Ceylon black tea tastes very bright with distinct notes of citrus to me. I prefer it to most black teas that are produced farther north in India. It feels lighter and more dynamic than most black teas I try.  

Added to the ceylon tea is cardamom, vanilla bean, and Pacific Northwest lavender. The tea is ideally steeped in milk with just a dollop of honey or sugar. Black teas are energizing and slightly bitter and are often drank to stimulate digestion in the morning.    

Fall Immunity Tea

Please make a concentrate of this tea! I use a stovetop or crock pot method to decoct the herbs. Place all the herbs and at least 8 cups of cold water in a lidded saucepan or crockpot. Slowly simmer herbs all day or overnight. Keep the decoction in the fridge and reheat a cup each time you need one. You can add a little sweetener or milk to individual cups if you feel like it. 

I have been getting several special requests from customers for a “mushroomy immune tea”. Well, here it is folks. Better get a jump on strengthening your immunity before cold and flu season. This tea is a daily tonic for your immune system but also provides a little liver and kidney support to cleanse a little bit. As our metabolism slows down during fall and winter, it is a really great idea to drink a daily immune tonic. This is a very general wellness tonic that supports many body systems. I prefer general tonics as my daily support because they quickly and quietly restore subtle imbalances as they come up. I drink my more specific immune support teas only when I feel like I am really “coming down with something”. 

Reishi and chaga, in addition to being anti-inflammatory, adaptogenic, and providing immune support, are very grounding. Astragalus is a great root to have in your daily life because it helps the bodies general resistance to stress and disease, and ultimately helps strengthen immunity. Codonopsis provides a milder action than ginseng, but supports adrenals and restores the central nervous system in times of stress. Dandelion and burdock provide the liver and kidney, which are the primary organs of blood waste and toxin elimination. the rest of the herbs in this blend are balancing herbs for vitamins and warming actions.

Delight Tea

This is a really fun blend to help hail in the cooler weather and get you excited for tea season! Honeybush tea is a rich sweet base for the roasted cacao shells, mint, tulsi, and jasmine. I really like drinking it in the afternoons on cool grey days. The roasted cacao shells are uplifting and help maintain my focus as I am writing or working. This is not a particularly medicinal tea, just a special delight for the autumn. 

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September Newsletter

September is a truly magnificent month, summer is still lingering gingerly in the air, but at the days edge there is the distinct whisper of fall. September is a month for seemingly rapid cultural and ecological transitions. Students and teachers go back to school after the long blissful days of summer. It’s a “get back in the swing of things” kind of month. Out in nature, leaves of our deciduous and annual friends transform from boastful bright green to flashy hues of yellow, gold, orange, red, and brown…oh and those incredible shades of neon pink! The growing season does not fade without a great show! By the end of the month when the landscape is ablaze in color and seed, the showy expression helps captivate the senses and allows us to give a final thanks and farewell for all the work plants have done this year. This color show also gives us a vibrant boost to help ease the transition into the cool dark months ahead.

September is a bit of a tippy month for me. Most of the days are still very warm and dry which I can easily soak up, enjoy, and remain in denial that the seasons are, in fact, changing. Unfortunately society seems to speak loudly through advertisements in September that, “the fun is over” and it’s “time to get your head out of the sky and back down to reality”. I feel societal pressure to let go of my full spectrum sensual awareness of the natural world and shift toward focusing on more internal cognitive processing, even though it feels a little early…I think there is still lots to behold in nature before the energy of the plants go back underground. 

My garden has almost gone completely to seed by mid-September. The circle of life for my plants this year is coming to a close. I have been seed collecting since July, but there are a lot more species to collect seeds from as the days get dramatically shorter. So far I have enough fennel, coriander, flax, fenugreek, mustard, dill, and poppy seed to satisfy my cooking and baking needs for the year. And I have at least begun saving seeds from most of my medicinal and pollinator plants, which will allow me to expand next year if I decide to. I simply love experiencing the end of the season, when my garden begins to look tattered and you can feel the urgency for plants to get their seeds to maturity before the daylight hours drop below 12 and fall rains begin.

Your teas this month are representative of a month in transition. Memoria is a fall harvest tea with the lushest of fruits and flowers from the late summer harvest. As we transition from looking outward and being outdoorsy to looking inward and being indoors we can use a little extra digestive support. And with Coconut Green I give you perhaps the last green tea for the year before I begin moving into darker more fermented teas…so as a last hurrah, I wanted to blend the green tea with tropical coconut to keep the summer vibes going for just a little while longer.  

Memoria

Honeybush, Rose Hips, Rose Petals, Elderberry, Lemongrass, Lavender, and Calendula

What a great soothing tea! Memoria is a rich melange of summer’s harvest! This tea is a reminder of all the wonderful complexity of our ephemeral summer season. It is really nice to have a look back at the gorgeous bounty of this harvest season. This tea has a fruity and floral flavor with citrus notes from the lemongrass for balance and brightness. Memoria is a blend that is delicious and wonderfully antioxidant. 

Coconut Green

Dao Ren Green Tea and Toasted Coconut

This is an iteration of a toasted coconut green tea that I send out each summer. Toasted coconut adds a nice nutty character to an otherwise subtle green tea. 

Green teas come highly recommended because they are high in plant derived compounds called flavonoids, which are anti-oxidants. Green tea is the best nutritional source of a group of flavonoids called catechins, which are currently being studied because in preliminary research they have been shown to be more potent than vitamin C or E at limiting oxidative damage in cells and appear to have other disease fighting properties.

Dao Ren green tea is picked early in the growing season and carefully processed to limit oxidation. This means it has significantly more anti-oxidants than more mature green teas. A few other benefits of regular green tea drinking are reduced blood pressure and reduced risk of heart disease. A Chinese study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed a 46%-65% reduction in hypertension risk in regular consumers of green or oolong tea.

Dao Ren green tea comes exclusively from the famous Dao Ren Peak in Zhejing province of China. It is named for the Dao (taoist) priests who meditated upon the mountain in ancient times. This tea was carefully cultivated for the priests themselves, but today the Dao Ren Monastery shares this unique prized tea with the rest of the world. Picked at the height of spring this tea is very lightly fermented, just enough to capture both a floral and tannin character. Known for its floral and fruity notes, this tea is a delight for both the tea connoisseur and novice

Digest Tea

Dandelion Root, Ginger Root, Fennel Seed, Peppermint, Spearmint

This is my Harbor Herbalist digestive tea blend. I am constantly hearing from customers about how effective it works for their digestive complaints. It helps increase digestive fire and relieves digestive upset such as gas and bloating. I recommend drinking Digest just before you eat or with your meals for seamless digestive support. It is more common for people to drink medicinal teas after they are already suffering, but it’s terrific to integrate medicinal teas such as Digest right into your daily eating routine. 

Due to the high stress lifestyle most americans experience one of the most common digestive issues people have is slow digestion or indigestion…which can lead to tightness in the stomach, stomach aches, bloating, excessive gas, and acid reflux. There are many ways to manage this problem effectively. The most straightforward and long lasting lifestyle shifts to ensure great digestion would be to let your body relax for an hour after eating. When we take a break after eating, the body allows the parasympathetic nervous system to circulate blood to your digestive system and break down food quickly and effectively. On the other hand, when we eat on the go or rush through meals, our sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for shunting blood to your skeletal muscles during heightened physical activity or stress, reduces the energy your body has to digest food. This slows digestion almost to a halt. Part of living a balanced life is listening to the body and providing it with the conditions it needs to do the physiological work necessary for health.

Drinking digest tea with meals will give your liver and digestive system a boost and ease some of the pressure put on the body when you eat. Over the years I have learned what kinds of foods make me feel uncomfortable, so I make sure I drink digestive tea when I indulge in those foods. I also drink Digest when I do not have control over how a meal is prepared. Despite taking special efforts to eat foods that boost my energy and do not upset my digestion. When I go out to eat or head to a potluck, my self control seems to take a back seat to my desire to explore all the food possibilities presented to me…this is why Digest Tea is indispensable to me. 

August Newsletter

All our favorite summer produce is at the farmers markets now! Peaches, plums, vine ripened tomatoes, chiles…they all seem to arrive at the same time. August is the month of plenty for seasonal eaters. Almost all of the time, all my extra dollars are swayed toward the richest sweetest market produce. Which means I overindulge in super sweet tomatoes and tree fruits. I try to tell myself that a 25 lb box of peaches is completely unreasonable, but I just can’t resist. This month can really be full of diverse unrestrained meals using nothing but peak fresh produce. August is typically the hottest month of the year for us. Eating lots of fresh salads, herbs, and spicy foods can help keep your body cool and refreshed. 

This is my first year taking growing culinary herbs for restaurants seriously, and because my process was not perfectly smooth and timely at the beginning of the season, I am just now seeing the culinary garden fill out. hopefully if you grow culinary herbs you have had an overabundance for months now… I wish I had a photo for you, but I forgot to take one when I was on the farm on Tuesday. It felt so suspenseful this whole season to continually wait for some herbs like basil to gain a sense of sprightliness. While others, like cilantro and dill went to flower before I could get many weeks of cuttings early in the spring from them. But this is why gardening is such a fascinating game…it takes many years of experience to develop the knowledge and wisdom to make the most of the space and growing season.  

I do have a few picture of my medicinal garden, these pictures were taken mid-day in the sun, so they have that not so glamorous washed out look to them. Each year I try to rein in my wild spirit a little bit. This year things look slightly less like a wild prairie garden than last year, but not much less. I have very sandy soil that needs many more years of soil building, so I primarily grow roots and flowers that can handle nutrient poor dry conditions in the summer. Each year fertility gets better and my shrub/tree layer is starting to establish itself. I cannot express how happy I am out in my garden when I notice that hundreds of thousands of insect and birds are super stoked about the ecosystem I am creating. 

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Iced Tea

I have been thinking about how to make a unique iced tea for a while. I do not have a palate for strong sweet iced teas. But I know a lot of people who find comfort and joy in sitting back on a hot summer day and sipping sweet tea. Drinking sweetened black tea in the afternoon will keep the body awake when the thick heat can seem to suck the life right out of you. This blend has a small amount of licorice root in it for subtle sweetness, but if you want the real deal, you will have to add a spoonful of honey or other sweetener after the tea is steeped to give it the sweet punch you are craving. Sweeten the tea before you chill it so that the sugar is dissolved completely. 

Shiso and a touch of mint were added to this blend for a unique touch. I grew the shiso on Vashon Island and have been experimenting with it in teas lately, this blend is the first time I have had others try it. The shiso is very subtle but adds a nice aroma and richness to the overall flavor. I grow three types of shiso: Frilly Red, Green, and a variegated variety. I used a blend of these three types in this blend. Shiso has a sort of rich flavor that has notes of cinnamon, peppermint, anise, and basil. If you are not sure what shiso is or tastes like, it is that frilly herb commonly served as a garnish with sushi. One of the many therapeutic aspects of shiso is that it helps protect against food poisoning and allergic reactions.  

Iced Chai

This tea-less chai has a rich aroma of malt and chocolate with a robust spicy flavor. Drinking small cups of iced chai is one of my favorite summer drinks to share with my friends. I highly recommend making a concentrate of half or all of the package and keep it in the fridge. Add milk when you are ready to serve. For iced chai I typically use 3/4 concentrate and 1/4 milk. Cool milk is much thicker than hot milk, so you definitely can get away with using less. 

Chai can be a great way to cool down, especially if brewed hot, strong, and spicy. Consuming spicy foods and drinks encourages your body to sweat, thus lowering body temperature. Drinking spicy chai both in the coolest and hottest parts of the year strongly supports thermoregulation. 

The full spectrum flavor comes from adding chaga mushrooms and cacao shells to a basic chai spice recipe of ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, fennel, and black pepper.  It is hard to find ingredients to replace black tea in a chai blend. The combination of chaga and cacao shells definitely does not mimic tea flavor but replaces it with another kind of depth and aroma. 

Chillaxin

As a contraindication note: Kava is not recommended for use during pregnancy or nursing, or if you have acute liver disease.

Chillaxin is a fun blend that I pretty much only make and sell in the summer. This blend is best steeped in room temp or cold water. I usually steep anything with kava in it in the fridge overnight. In Hawaii and throughout Polynesia, kava is extracted in cool water. I most often take my queues about how to use herbs from the places where the herbs are native.

Kava has a bad reputation on the internet due to lack of education and awareness about the plant. It is a really good therapy for tense skeletal muscles. If you hold your anxiety in your muscles kava can really help loosen you up. 

I have heard many many stories of people in Hawaii and Polynesia over indulging in cups of strong Kava and losing their ability to stand up or even move their lips to talk. I am talking about people who drink over 20 cups of strong kava in an evening. Small amounts of kava can be great for calming stressed muscles without effecting cognitive function. Kava has a taste and mouth feel that can be uncomfortable for some drinkers. Basically, it slightly numbs the tongue and lips, this sensation lasts for only a few minutes after drinking a cup. Drinking straight kava at a kava bar is like drinking mouth numbing mud. It doesn’t taste great, but it has been used for many centuries throughout the pacific islands for relaxation. 

The kava in Chillaxin is blended with other herbs to dilute the flavor and sensation of the kava. Lemongrass provides a nice aromatic lemony flavor. When steeped in cool water lemongrass tastes almost sweet and floral, two tones that get eliminated when steeped in hot water. Oats are highly nourishing and support relaxation. Adding dried rose hips and blackberries gives this blend extra vitamins, a little sweetness, and a tartness that balances the blend. 

July Newsletter

I hope everyone is having a fun summer! A heat wave has been sweeping the Puget Sound for the last few weeks, my new apartment in Seattle is exceptionally hot in the afternoons…I think I know what most of the country feels like during the dog days of summer. A sense of afternoon apathy has me laying low under large sprawling trees in the afternoon. Grand maples are my favorite umbrellas, protecting me from sparkling hot sun rays. There is nothing quite as gratifying as rising with the dawn and nearly completing a work day by mid afternoon…then spending a couple hours laying as flat as possible on the cool shaded earth. 

Last week the shade felt even more refreshing and comfortable since I caught a nasty chest cold and was down for the count for the better part of each day while I was recovering. The volume of work I do seems to be catching up with me a lot this year. So I am taking my own advice and slowing down. Summertime is very exciting with wonderful opportunities to see life outside ourselves at its fullest. It is important to take time to be enchanted and observe our surroundings. The heat certainly allows us the opportunity to move a bit more slowly through the world and take note of our surroundings. Taking hikes through the landscapes we live in can connect and ground us. I am very fond of harvesting native berries from July through August. More often than not, I immediately plan a fun outdoor meal where I get to share these delicious jems with my friends. Sharing the vibrant tapestry of seasonal foods with friends connects us to the ephemeral nature of our seasonal food systems and each other. Both conversing with and about our landscapes can instill a sense of mutual support.

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The teas this month are meant to be made into iced tea. I prefer prepping my iced teas in the evening and sticking them in the fridge overnight. Iced teas you buy in the stores are almost always highly sweetened. You can add a touch of nectar to each of these teas if your pallet requests it. I think it is helpful to sweeten your own tea to help gauge how much sugar you are actually consuming. It is really difficult to tell how much sugar is in many refreshing drinks from the grocery store.

As many of you  know, I send out Chocolatl or something very similar to it twice a year. This is because the tea tastes very different in winter versus summer and it is a very special and unusual tea. I am open to feedback, so if you think getting a chocolate tea twice a year is too much please tell me about it.  

Okay! Now the Teas: 

Jasmint Tea! 

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A simple, yet powerful, coupling. My sister had her first cup and was surprised. She had never combined mint and jasmine. It’s a unique pairing for sure. I was thinking of doing a Moroccan mint tea, but decided I didn’t want to be too predictable. There is something really special about the combination of mint and green tea on a hot summer day…the jasmine brings forth a sense of beauty in the blend that gently uplifts. Jasmine green tea is very subtle to begin with so I just added enough mint to strengthen the overall flavor, but not overpower the green tea or jasmine. 

I hope you drink this as a morning hot tea or an afternoon cold tea. The uplifting and energizing jasmine green tea will help maintain energy on these hot days. The cooling mints will promote relaxation.

Chocolatl

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Chocolatl is a rich a wonderful tea. It has a nice bitterness when left unsweetened, but can be coaxed into a rich decadent tea from the Gods with just a small little spoon full of honey.

Raw cacao is blended with a very select blend of herbs and spices for a spiced chocolate that supports digestion. It is always nice when your digestive tea is practically a dessert. So go ahead and serve it friends and family as a dessert during the dog days of summer, they will be most appreciative.   

Summer Chill

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Summer Chill tea has orange zest in it, which I forgot to list on the package. This is a fairly light tea for summer. It can be mixed with apple juice or lemonade to make a fun sweet tea. This is a great refreshing iced tea the entire family will enjoy. Summer Chill supports digestion and helps keep the body cool.

I tend to drink teas that are very subtle in the summer. We get to eat so many bright and airy nutritious fruits and vegetables this time of year, so I feel tea should often be a light pairing.

June Newsletter

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WooWee! It’s Summertime, folks! And let me tell you, I am very excited! June is a big cornerstone in my year. I slow down and take time to celebrate the abundance of life. As a gardener, I get to truly appreciate all the hard work of spring as the summer harvest season begins. 

Summer solstice signals the beginning of the slow contraction of daylight. For the last six months, expanding daylight has helped jump start and motivate growth and new transformation. With solstice coming up next week, we begin to enjoy the fruits of our labor and slow down. As summer sets in we can allow ourselves to relax and let our ambition for large scale new projects begin to diminish. This is actually a good thing. It’s time to simply enjoy life and be happy with maintaining what we currently have.

As for the teas I sent you, you can make iced teas out of all three blends and you should probably at least try making sun tea from Solstice or Dream…it’s fun!

Summer Solstice Tea is the first of a series of fruit sweetened herbal blends. I have been saving a batch of dried blueberries from last summer for this blend. Through this tea, I want to express my gratitude to mother nature for all the gifts she provides us each day throughout the year… We are very lucky to be living in a time when so many amazing edible plants are available to us. And as curious adaptable creatures, we have been able to grow, move, and adapt most plants to a variety of ecosystems. This tea honors both herbs from near and far, some that have been transplanted all across the globe and others that are and remain endemic to small regions (such as rooibos to southern South Africa).

Solstice Tea is rich in vitamins and minerals, so enjoy a cup and then get out and do some enjoyable physical activity. If you are feeling particularly hot drink a strong cup of this blend, the hibiscus helps cool the body down.

Dream Tea

To balance days of high energy during summer, I figured we could all use a little nervine tea. Just something to calm and restore the body after a full day of excitement. This is a great tea to enjoy in the evening, kids often enjoy a little Dream Tea at the end of a full summer day. The herbs in this blend are not meant to knock you out, just take the edge off. I sometimes make a strong concentrate of this blend and add it to lemonade to drink with dinner.

Dragonwell Tea

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Only once a year do I send out a tea that is not a blend of herbs. But dragonwell tea is just so delicious as it is. 

Dragon well tea is called Longjing in China, named after the Dragon’s Well landmark at West Lake area of Hangzhou in Zhejing Province, China, where the tea originated. There are many old stories surrounding this tea. My favorite is that the tea is named after a well that has relatively dense water, so when rain water falls down into the well it floats on the surface and exhibits twisting smooth movements of the Chinese dragon.

The tea is pan-fired in deep metal bowls over a wood fire. The tea artisan uses specific motion techniques to ensure perfectly unbroken flat tea leaves. The tea is always pan-fired in small batches. The firing technique flattens the leaves, the shape resembling dragonfly wings. Dragon well tea is incredibly valuable and unique, due to its artisan roots and quality hand picked leaves. The best quality, most affordable organic Dragonwell tea I have found is from Rishi Teas…but it is still crazy expensive ($120 per pound).

The crisp slightly toasted flavor has a distinct smoothness in every sip. A single cup, depending how strong you make it, can be light and earthen or strong bodied with a slight bittersweet taste and aroma of roasted chestnut. This tea can be steeped many times, so please enjoy the changes in flavor as you steep it many times. A little can go a long way with this tea. 

Like the other green teas I have talked about Dragon Well is rich in anti-oxidants, vitamins, and minerals. This tea has a medium amount of caffeine, so it will give you a mental boost in the morning or midday. 

May Newsletter

May blooms are truly stunning. I have seen more kids this year making themselves flower headpieces than usual. I think everyone is just so darn excited it’s finally feeling comfortable outside! Even if you don’t get giddy and create your own flower arrangements, wearable or otherwise, just stopping to admire gorgeous blooms can help instantly improve your mood and let daily stress melt away. 

During this part of May I am spending an hour or two each morning harvesting hawthorn leaf and flower, which is a wonderful way to wake and cheer myself up…it can also be a little painful with all the sharp thorns hawthorn arms herself with. I feel a mending and healing in my emotional heart as I spend time with hawthorn. It’s been a very unpredictable year for me in my personal life and I sense that hawthorn is a strong ally at this time. She’s allowing me to love and forgive in a more profound way than I anticipated. I’m incredibly thankful for the emotional resilience and the strength I get from my plant allies when the going gets tough. I cannot wait to share my wildcrafted hawthorn with you later this summer.

Spring is really exciting and I hope that we can all get outside and soak up some of the transformational energy and let it guide us toward the joys of summer. Spring weather is so comfortable, no need to dress up or down, just be your wonderful self. 

Your teas this month are meant to give you all the basics of what your body needs mid-spring. A Root Beer inspired tea to help cleanse and detox the liver, kidneys, and promote clear and healthy skin. Nutritive Love to give you extra vitamins and minerals for healthy bones, joints, and muscles. Spring-Aid to provide a little sweet and spicy elixer on warm or cool spring days.  

Thanks for believing in Bird’s Eye Tea! I am extremely lucky to have wonderful enthusiastic customers!  

Root Beer

Ingredients: Burdock Root, Sassafras, Sarsaparilla, Cinnamon, Orange Zest, Codonopsis, Chaga mushrooms, Carob, and Licorice Root

I recommend making a strong concentrate by slowly simmering the herbs in water in a covered saucepan until you get a strong dark reduction, this might take between 30 and 60 minutes. My sister has a habit of making herbal reductions in a crock pot on the lowest setting overnight, which is another option. You can add a little honey at the end of this phase and then refrigerate. When the concentrate cools mix it with carbonated water to your desired taste. I think it makes a pretty nice tasting hot tea too! 

This is a very new recipe for me. I almost never work with sarsaparilla and sassafras, but I was excited to try it this month. Sarasparilla and sassafras are main ingredients in old fashioned root beer. I figured it would be fun for people to try making and tasting a version of herbal root beer with the two main ingredients in traditional recipes. Quite frankly, this tea doesn’t taste anything like the artificially flavored root beer soda pop sold in grocery stores, but I think you might like the herbal version better…plus this herbal root beer blend is so much better for you! This blend supports circulation, stress reduction, and detoxification. 

In the mid-1800’s “root beer” consisted of a decoction of various medicinal roots, seeds, barks, and fruits that were mixed with carbonated water or wild yeasts for a bit of the bubbly wonderfulness. The blend that I created is unique and not particularly traditional. I took lots of creative liberties when developing the recipe as I needed to bend it to have the herbal action I was wanted. The first marketed root beers had in the ballpark of 20-25 herbs and each recipe tasted slightly different from the others. Often root beers were used during transitional periods such as fall and spring to help support immunity and detoxification. The body is subject to lots of environmental stress as the seasons change and having a tasty herbal drink to help protect the body during that phase was essential.  

Spring-Aid

Ingredients: White Tea, Ginger, Cinnamon, Schisandra, Lemonbalm, Orange Zest, Lemongrass, and Rose Hips

A great tasting tea to hail in warm weather. This tea can be made into hot or iced tea. Remember you have to brew the tea a little stronger if you want to make it into iced tea and you also might want to add a touch of honey. White tea is a very clarifying tea, it’s light, full of antioxidants, and helps lift energy. Ginger and cinnamon are great for supporting the immune system, digestion, and balancing the body on days when it feels hot one minute and cold the next. Schisandra is a chinese herb that has a very sour flavor that helps stimulate digestion and has a wonderful tonic effect on the nervous system. Lemonbalm is a great spring nervine herb to calm the nerves and along with the lemongrass adds nice citrus notes. Rose hips provide a tangy sweetness and lots of vitamin C. Rose hips are also anti-inflammatory.

This blend is to help hail in warmer weather. It’s meant to provide digestive support and sooth cravings for both sweet and spicy as the weather improves. It is my hope that this blend is bold enough to steer you from less healthy drink choices.  

Nutritive Love

Ingredients: Oat Straw and Tops, Alfalfa, Nettle, Tulsi, Fenugreek, Anise, Eleuthro, Clover, and Mint 

Keep the spring in your step with this mineral rich blend to build, nourish, and repair tissues. This is a decidedly grassy tasting blend, which can remind us of the diets of all the animals that build strong and graceful bodies on a diet of mineral rich foliage. Nutrient dense herbs can profoundly effect the longevity and vitality of body tissues. Oats, clovers, alfalfa, and nettles are a true powerhouse combo providing vitamins A and K, potassium, chlorophyll, calcium, and protein. Oat tops and mint are soothing and nervine, when I feel emotionally run down I tend to reach for oat tops and mint. Eleuthro is a root primarily used traditionally in Korea, Russia, and China. Eleuthro is rich in anti-oxidants, supports immunity, lowers blood sugar, and helps improve focus. Anise is a fun and delicious herb that relieves digestive complaints and soothes a cough. Tulsi was added for it’s restorative qualities and rich flavor.       

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.