Relaxation

The Ritual of Tea

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Tea.

So much to love and enjoy! What makes savoring tea special for you?

Do you feel like you just need to step out of the busyness of your day? I love moving into the ritual of making tea to do just that. Add herbs and you have a mindful cup of goodness supporting your well-being. Herbs are strong allies and one reason I love using them in my blends.

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Refreshing the Spirit

Boosting Vitality

Reducing Weariness

 

These have been the driving forces for centuries of tea drinking. I participate in the ritual of making and savoring tea daily because of how it makes me feel. The act of preparing centers me, the aromas ground me, and the taste transports me.

There are many ways to savor tea and I believe that the way you prepare it affects the experience. What is your common method of preparing and drinking tea? 

To make the most of the experience, I encourage you to find a beautiful cup. Select on that brings you joy. It could be the color, the way it fits your hand, how it feels on your lips, the memories of a certain place it evokes, or even a quote that inspires you. Use this mug as often as possible in your tea ritual. Allow its beauty and familiarity to set your tea time apart from the rest of your day.

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Loose leaf teas and whole herbs naturally lend themselves to the ritual of tea. Turn the steeping process into part of the entire experience by watching the leaves unfurl in the hot water. Whether you are making a cup or a pot, using whole leaves brings a flavor complexity missing in the finely chopped leaves of a tea bag.

To prepare a single cup in your mug, select something that allows the tea and herbs room to open as they steep. I prefer a tea infuser basket as it allows the most room for your tea and herbs to expand. It is open on top, allowing you to further slow down as you watch your tea transform. The ease in cleaning an infuser basket promotes frequency in performing your tea ritual.

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A tea kettle to heat the water completes the ritual when I am home. The slow heating of my water to the temperature I desire; followed by slowly pouring it over the tea. Smelling the tea and herbs in the steam as a preview to the drinking experience prepares me to savor my cup. Sipping the prepared cup and tasting all the flavors present. 

A breath of calm marking moments of my day.

Tea has a way of bringing together community. Invite your closest friend over for a cup of tea. Savor the experience together.

 

When tea becomes ritual, it takes its place at the heart of our ability to see greatness in small things. Where is beauty to be found? In great things that, like everything else, are doomed to die, or in small things that aspire to nothing, yet know how to set a jewel of infinity in a single moment.
— Muriel Barberry
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Herb Spotlight: Chamomile

Chamomile is an herb I did not appreciate when younger. I just never cared for the taste of it. But maybe that is more from the way I tried it. The whole chamomile flowers are added into my Lavender Mint Dream tisane. With the blend of chamomile, lavender, and mint, it is a more enjoyable beverage for me. I enjoy the taste while getting the benefits of chamomile.

Our tisane incorporates German chamomile (Matricaria recutita). It is native to Europe, Eastern Europe, North Africa, and parts of Asia. The plant reaches to 3 feet although some wild varieties are low growing. German chamomile is an annual, grows up to 3’. Flowers are harvested between May and August. (1)

Energetically, chamomile is bitter, spicy, but also a little neutral.(2)  The herb is a nervine, sedative, and mildly astringent. It is most often used to calm nervous tension in the stomach, anxiety, insomnia, menstrual disorders, headaches, hay fever, Crohn’s disease and other gastrointestinal disorders. (2, 3, 4)

If using this herb to help with digestive problems, drink a cup after meals. The herb helps to increase intestinal peristalsis while relaxing the central nervous system. (2) Chamomile is frequently used to lessen an allergic reaction. The volatile oil, chamazulene, in the flowers can help to inhibit allergic responses. (5, 6)

It is recommended you avoid chamomile if you have asthma or are allergic to asters, daisies, chrysanthemums, or ragweed. There may also be an increased risk of miscarriage if pregnant. Chamomile may also interact with medications, increasing the risk of bleeding and may increase the effects of medications such as sedatives. If you have questions about herb-drug interactions, contact your physician. (1)

While I love the herb in my Lavender Mint Dream tisane, you can also try chamomile in your bath to help relieve stress and sore muscles. Using it in this way, you can breathe the scent to ease anxious feelings as well. (7)


  1. German Chamomile. University of Maryland Medical Center. Last reviewed March 25, 2015. Retrieved fromhttps://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/german-chamomile

  2. Hoffmann, David (2013). The Complete Herbs Sourcebook. China: Harper Collins.

  3. Srivastava, Janmejai K., Shankar, Eswar, Gupta, Sanjay. Chamomile: A Herbal Medicine of the Past with Bright Future. Published November 1, 2010. Retrieved fromhttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2995283/

  4. Chamomile (Matricaria recutita). Herbwisdom.com. Retrieved on November 8, 2015. Retrieved from http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-chamomile.html

  5. Balch, Phyllis A. CNC (2012). Prescription for Herbal Healing 2nd edition. New York: Avery, Penguin Publishing Group.

  6. Stuart, Armando Gonzalez, Ph.D. Chamomile. Published 2004. Retrieved from http://www.herbalsafety.utep.edu/herbs-pdfs/chamomile.pdf

  7. Gladstar, Rosemary (2012). Rosesmary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.

3 Ways to Relax & Enjoy

Summer. As kids, it was all about fun, relaxing, and staying out until dark. All the neighborhood dads would whistle or call out to us as we ran around or biked the streets to call us home. There is a laziness to summer and an openness that can be tempting to fill. It can be hard to slow down. Here three ways I like to take things slow.  Summer is a great time of year to do this but these relaxation habits work well year-round.

Create a morning habit that enhances your sense of calm and well-being.

In a Facebook group I belong to, there has been some discussion around the book The Miracle Morning. Who’s doing it and what their experiences are. Just starting to read the book and I have not incorporated it into my mornings yet. What I do in the mornings varies yet it contains some meditation, exercise, journaling, and reading. Sundays are favorites with nowhere to be and able to sit on the porch or favorite chair with tea and cats for a relaxing start to the week.

Learn to allow space

Once in the habit of being on the go, it can be hard to slow down. There is the feeling that something has been forgotten. I have been working on saying no and taking the time to decide what works best personally and professionally. I find more peace when my schedule is a bit open.

Do something every day that lights up your soul

Creativity lights me up. I have been making a conscious effort to do something creative daily. For me this includes a variety of things- creating new teas, new recipes, drawing, crafting, sculpting, or just surrounding myself with the creativity of others. Find the things that light you up and make it a priority to spend some time every day experiencing that.

Herb Spotlight: Lavender

Lavender is one of those herbs that people love or hate (similar to cilantro in reaction) and we are so glad that many of our customers love our Lavender Mint Dream tisane. We have found that in the right ratio, lavender goes well in teas, cookies, baths, and more. We use Lavendula angustifolia flowers in our recipes.

Lavender is a bushy, branching shrub about 3 feet in height. It is native to the Mediterranean area but naturalized to other areas. We have success growing it in our Southwestern PA garden and within a short drive from Pittsburgh is a beautiful lavender farm. Give growing it a try if you do not already have it in your garden. The flowers are small lavender purple whorls of 6-10 flowers at the end of 6-8 inch long stalks.(1) They flower at the end of June and beginning of July. (2) Leaves are silvery grey lanceolate, smooth edged and somewhat hairy. (1) The narrow opposite leaves are fuzzy grey when young but turn green as they mature. (3) The mature stems become dense and woody.

The draw for using Lavender is its sedative and relaxing effects. (1) The herb is considered tonifying for your nervous system (4) and also has antidepressant effects. (5) Many people use lavender for headaches (1) and stress headaches (6), mild anxiety, insomnia and other sleep problems, minor digestive problems (7), fatigue, and mild depression (8) among other uses.

Using Lavender essential oils added to your bath or inhaled as they evaporate is a very popular way to use lavender as linalool can help increase your pain threshold (8) and the essential oils irritate the olfactory nerves to stimulate the diencephalon region of your brain. (3) This area of the brain relays sensory information and connects to your nervous and endocrine systems to help manage emotions. (9)

As with many herbs, there are some situations to use caution with lavender or to avoid use. Lavender is considered a uterine stimulant and it is advised to avoid high doses when pregnant. (4) It is recommended that those with gallstones or obstructions of biliary tract avoid lavender. Also, use with caution or avoid if already taking sleeping pills. (8) Also be aware that using lavender while breastfeeding may pass through the milk and may provide carminative effect on the baby. (5)


(1) Kowalchik, Claire & Hylton, William H.  Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs.  Rodale Press, Emmaus, Pennsylvania. 1987. P. 350-353

(2) Culpeper, Nicholas. Culpeper’s Complete Herbal. Wordsworth Reference. 2007. P.159

(3) Weiss, Rudolf Fritz, M.D. Weiss’s Herbal Medicine Classic Edition. Thieme. 1985. P.302

(4) Ody, Penelope. The Complete Medicinal Herbal. DK Publishing, Inc. 1993. P.73

(5) Mills, Simon & Bone, Kerry. The Essential Guide to Herbal Safety.  Elsevier Inc. 2005. P. 493-494

(6) Hoffman, David. An Elder’s Herbal. Healing Arts Press. 1993. P.232

(7) Meletis, Chris D., N.D. Complete Guide to Safe Herbs. DK Publishing, Inc. 2002. P.40

(8) Balch, Phyllis A. (2012) Prescription for Herbal Healing, 2nd Edition. Avery. p. 93-94

(9) http://biology.about.com/od/anatomy/p/diencephalon.htm