perfect tea is the one that satisfies your needs at the time
that you are drinking it. Herbal teas can be thought of as a
taste treat, as well as a healing agent
for the body. Depending on the herbs that you choose, your tea
can be relaxing, stimulating, or any number of available properties.
to know your body and what it needs is a never ending process.
Getting to know which herbs have which properties is a lifelong process as well.
A very good way to understand the properties of herbs is to actually
grow them. Plant at least one different herb in a window pot
or in your garden every season. It's in the nurturing of these plants
that we learn from them. They teach us about their needs, and
in doing so, we slow down, and are able to understand our own needs
better. It's all an intuitive process that goes beyond words.
bodies go through constant change and renewal.
Some days we feel more tired than others. At other times we
may feel a need to slow things down. Other properties that
herbs can bring us would be a tea that would relieve pain (an
anodyne) or one that destroys or arrests the growth of
micro-organisms (an antibiotic), or one that soothes irritated
tissue, particularly mucous membrane (demulcent) or even one that
has strengthening and toning effects (a tonic).
There are many ways in which herbal teas can help us.
our purposes we will discuss herbs for relaxation. There are
many in this category that seem to slow down the clock.
Chamomile - has long been known as a very good and safe
herb for relaxation. It's taste is slightly sweet with a
slight spicey flavor. Chamomile is also good for an upset
stomach and is perfect after a meal. Because the flowers
are used, you would not have to steep this selection for very
long, maybe 5-10 minutes. Adding just a touch of milk
and honey makes this a lovely choice before bedtime or any
time you want to relax.
Passion flower- The flowers and vine are used.
Passion flower relaxes the nervous system and has
non-addictive sedative properties. It is an important remedy
for anxiety, tension, and insomnia. It has a lovely
sweet herbal flavor.
Skullcap- Use the aerial parts of this herb for
nervousness, depression, insomnia and headaches. It is an
excellent tonic for the nervous system.
Guelder rose- is
also known as "Cramp bark" for it's aid in
relieving menstrual cramping. It is a muscle and nervous
relaxant. The stem bark is used, so crush gently before adding
to the pot of boiling water. Steep for 15-20 minutes.
CAUTION- The fresh berries are poisonous.
Long used in beer-making and herb-filled sleep pillows,
this herb is the perfect remedy for insomnia and nervous
tension. The scent and taste is mild and blends nicely
with other herbs. The dried female strobiles are what are
used. It's also a smooth muscle relaxant and is good for
treating irritable bowel syndrome and nervous stomach.
Valerian root- This is probably the strongest of the
relaxing herbs. Because you are using the roots of the
plant, you will want to make sure to grind the herb a bit
before adding to the pot of boiling water, turn down the heat
and let it simmer on low for about 15-20 minutes before
drinking. Valerian is good for many nervous conditions
including migraines and insomnia. It has a bitter taste
and smell that you either love or hate, usually the latter for
most people. Add plenty of honey to make this a
It is always best to get to know herbs in a slow and controlled way.
What works one way for one person can have different effects for
someone else. Therefore you would be best advised to use a
very small amount of any herb the first time you use it. Add a
little more as you get to know it's effects. Read all you can
about the herbs that you try. It's also a good idea to not use any
one herb for longer than a week at a time. Herbs are generally
not as fast-acting as un-natural medicines. But they can be
very effective. They stay in the body and can build up over
time. This is why it is good to monitor how you feel
regularly and rotate between the different herbs.
you do want to brew your own herbs, you will want to have a mortar
and pestle (shown above). They are very nice for crushing the
roots and stems before adding to the water. Over-crushing will
make it more difficult to strain out the herb when pouring into your
cup or tea pot. A simple rule of thumb with how long to brew or
steep is... the harder the substance (ex.- the roots), the longer
the brewing time. The softer or fragile the substance (ex.-
the flowers), the shorter the brewing time.
don't feel comfortable crushing and blending your own herbal teas,
there are many different varieties found at your supermarket, health
food store, and even on the Internet. Boil the water.
Pour the water into your cup or teapot. Add the tea bag.
Steep for the amount of time necessary to release the properties
into the water. Remove the tea bag and enjoy. It's an
easier way to enjoy a fine cup of tea. But if you want to
delve deeper into herbal alchemy...start with one herb at a time,
and see how pleasurable the experience can be.
See our Herbal Beauty Tea