tea

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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Lavender Mint Dream Cheesecake

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Don’t you agree that Lavender Mint Dream Cheesecake sounds so decadent? Or should I say dreamy?

I have a few favorite desserts and cheesecake is one of them. I admit this recipe was a bit of a challenge. It took a couple of times to get the taste of the Lavender Mint Dream the way I wanted it to have. This is a very mild recipe with just a touch of the Lavender Mint Dream present.

I selected the Lavender Mint Dream for this recipe as lavender pairs really well with baked goods. I enjoy using it in small amounts by itself when baking as it can be very overpowering. But here, combined with the peppermint and chamomile in my Lavender Mint Dream, it has the perfect balance.

Part of the success is in using a lot of tea for a small amount of water and letting it steep longer than you would when drinking a cup. I use both the liquid and the softened herbs in the recipe to get the flavor I wanted. My first go at it was with just the liquid and it really was not as strong a taste as I wanted. The herbs also give texture and color to the cheesecake too that I find perfect for this time of year.

Create the recipe, make a pot of tea, and take it all outside to enjoy the view and sounds of a warm summer night.

Lavender Mint Dream Cheesecake

Makes an 8” cheesecake

 

Lavender Mint Dream prepared tisane

2 ½ Tablespoons Lavender Mint Dream

¼ cup Hot Water

Instructions:

  • Place Lavender Mint Dream in glass measuring cup
  • Pour the hot water over the tea
  • Stir and let steep until cool, about 30 minutes
  • Set aside for use in recipe below

Crust

2 cups crushed Graham Crackers (I use Gluten-Free ones here)

¼ cup Ghee or Butter, melted

1 Tablespoon of Steeped Lavender Mint Dream (liquid and herbs)

Filling

2 packages Cream Cheese, softened

2/3 cup Coconut Sugar

2 teaspoon Gluten-Free Flour

½ teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

2 ½ Tablespoons Steeped Lavender Mint Dream (liquid and herbs)

2 Eggs, set out to bring closer to room temperature

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 375° (350° if you have a dark springform pan like mine)
  • Crush the graham crackers and melt the butter or ghee
  • In a medium bowl, combine graham crackers, melted butter, and steeped tea
  • Blend until the graham crackers have absorbed all the liquid
  • Press into the bottom and 1” up the sides of the pan
  • Set aside
  • In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese and coconut sugar
  • Blend until well combined and then some
  • Blend in the flour, vanilla, and Lavender Mint Dream
  • Add the eggs and combine well
  • Pour the filling into the pan
  • Place in the oven for 30-40 minutes, checking at 30 minutes, until the cheesecake is mostly set with a little wobble in the center
  • Remove from oven and set pan on a wire rack
  • Cool for 30 minutes and remove springform
  • Cool completely then cover and refrigerate for 4 hours

Behind the Scenes: Moon Teas

Do you pay attention to the moon cycles?

Are you interested in making relaxing teas for yourself?

moon tea

One of the things I do is pay attention to the moon cycles. If you have not tried it, it is simple to get started. Start paying attention to the new moon and the full moon. Each phase of the moon has its own qualities yet I find the new and full moons have a particular pull for me. Tomorrow is the new moon and a great time to start.

In fact the new (or dark) moon is the beginning of the lunar cycle. It is the time when things turn inward and begin to germinate. A great time to dream and plan new projects happens at this phase. Many women menstruate at this time too. The new moon is about slowing down, gathering energy, and renewing focus. I generally focus on self-care and keeping my calendar as light as possible during the new moon.

The full moon is the opposite. It is a time of high energy, of action, and seeing things come to fruition. This is a great time to be taking steps to implement your new projects dreamed of during the new moon. It is about using the energy you gathered at the dark moon and directing it to create something new or to accomplish your goals.

The energy of each moon is strong the day before, the day of, and the day after. Making moon teas are a great way to take in the energy of each moon. Once you create your moon tea, enjoy a cup of it each evening. It is best taken cold or at room temperature but not heated. The energy of the moon is a cooler energy than the sun.

I generally do not enjoy rose beverages but in this combination it is delicate and subtle. Rose is a feminine herb, making it great for moon teas and getting in touch with the yin aspects of the moon. Dandelion cleanses the liver and kidneys. I am using it here as a release of the old in terms of the new moon energy. Be sure to drink this early in the evening as Dandelion is a diuretic. Cinnamon brings a little warmth and spice to the blend. I find it to be a grounding herb for myself and hope you will enjoy its benefits here.

As traditionally used in herbal recipes, my measurements are in parts. This allows you to measure the herbs as you are comfortable, whether that is ounces, teaspoons, tablespoons, cups, etc, and keeping with the ratios. The measurement you choose needs to remain consistent throughout.

 

Melissa’s Moon Tea Recipe

Moon Tea Herbs

 

1 part dried Dandelion leaf

1 part Cinnamon chips

½ part dried Rose (petals or small flower buds)

 

 

Directions:

  • Gather a quart size mason jar with lid.
  • Place about an ounce of the herb blend into the jar.
  • Fill jar with filtered or spring water.
  • Cover and place outside or on a windowsill overnight in an area that receives moon light.
  • Strain herbs and place tea in a new jar. Refrigerate until ready to drink. Drink within a couple of days.

Fireside Evenings Hot Toddy

Ready to expand your tea drinking?

On a whim this weekend, well really it was after a very disappointing Moscow Mule during dinner out, I decided to make a version of a hot toddy when we got home. A hot toddy is generally a combination of hot water, lemon, honey, and alcohol. Earlier this winter I was introduced to tea hot toddies at a happy hour but hadn’t made one at home.

Putting together this simple recipe I had two thoughts.

Why haven’t I made these already?

and

What else can I make using my teas?

The recipe below is how I created my Fireside Evenings Hot Toddy. Look for more recipes in the future that combine Leaf & Twig teas for more delicious ways to enjoy them.

 

Fireside Evenings Hot Toddy

1 heaping teaspoon Fireside Evenings Tea

1 cup Hot Water

1/2-3/4 shot of Honey

1/2-3/4 shot of Vodka (I used Tito’s)

  • Place Fireside Evenings Tea in a French press or tea strainer
  • Add 1 cup of hot water
  • Steep for 5 minutes
  • Stir in Honey and Vodka
  • Enjoy while hot

 

Herb Spotlight: Tulsi

The Queen of Herbs is just one of the names for Tulsi, also known as Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum L). This perennial herb is native to the Indian subcontinent and also grows well in my southwestern PA garden. It grows up to 1 meter (or over 3 feet) tall. The plant is purplish in color with narrow oval leaves. The leaves are green and purple and are in opposite pairs on a slightly hairy stem. The flowers bloom in mid-summer.

This pungent and bitter herb (1) has both warming and cooling effects. Often Tulsi is used for its anti-inflammatory as well as adaptogenic properties. (2,3)

It is included in Serenity Meadows because it is an adaptogen, meaning it helps to balance the body especially in terms of the effects of stress. (3) Tulsi does this by lowering levels of oxidative stress and free radicals from chronic stress conditions (4), supporting mild blood thinning to help the liver’s metabolic functions, and eases mild indigestion. (5,1)

In India, Tulsi has been used to balance chakra energy, specifically the third eye chakra. The plant is believed to provide protection for homes around which it is planted and is regarded as a sacred plant. Malas can be made from the woody stems and worn around the neck or wrist. (5)

There are no known contraindications though as always, consult with a trained professional on your specific situation if you have any questions about the herb.


References:

  1. Holy Basil- Medicinal Uses (Posted on May 20, 2010) Herbalpedia. Retrieved from http://www.herbalpedia.com/blog/?p=22
  2. Holy Basil (Last reviewed April 21, 2015) University of Michigan Health System. Retrieved from http://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hn-4597000
  3. Unravelling the genome of Holy basil: an “incomparable” “elixir of life” of traditional Indian medicine. Shubhra Rastogi, Alok Kalra, Vikrant Gupta, Feroz Khan, Raj Kishori Lal, Anil Kumar, Tripathi, Sriram Parameswaran, Chellappa Gopalakrishnan, Gopalakrishna Ramaswamy, Ajit Kumar Shasany. Published BMC Genomics 2015, 16:413. Retrieved from http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2164/16/413
  4. Holy basil – a key herb for stress, anxiety, depression and fatigue. Joanna Sochan. Published September 2014 (Retrieved on October 17, 2015) Retrieved fromhttp://naturimedica.com/holy-basil-key-herb-stress-anxiety-depression-fatigue/
  5. Maimes Report on Holy Basil. Steven Maimes. Version 1 November 2004 SALAM Research. (Retrieved on October 23, 2015) Retrieved from http://www.researchgate.net/publication/230634694_Maimes_Report_on_Holy_Basil

3 Habits for a Better Night’s Sleep

A common complaint is not sleeping. Whether that is not sleeping, not sleeping well or not feeling rested upon waking. There are many habits to incorporate daily to help you sleep better. Here are three habits we enjoy.

1.       Enjoy our Lavender Mint Dream tisane.

The three herbs in our Lavender Mint Dream tisane are all known for encouraging relaxation and can help support better sleep. Enjoy a cup in the evening or make a bath “tea” (placing Lavender Mint Dream in a large reusable tea bag in the tub as you run water over it and enjoy the aroma while you soak).

2.       Settle in with a good book and low lighting.

Dimming the lights help your body slow down and get ready for sleep. Reading an actual book rather than an electronic one also helps by removing the glare of the electronic screen. Research has shown that electronics encourage wakefulness at night and can disrupt your body’s production of melatonin.(1) We also like how curling up with a good book just feels good too.

3.       Have a consistent bedtime.

This one can be one of the hardest habits to implement. It is not always possible to have the exact same bedtime each night. Yet our experience is that we feel better keeping a regular bedtime.

 

(1) https://sleep.org/articles/ways-technology-affects-sleep/