Joy: The Herbal Tea
In a time of so much stress and uncertainty, having go-tos to lean on is crucial.
One of those things for me is herbal tea. Tea is ancient, warm, and familiar, and although tea technically only refers to the product of brewing the camellia sinensis plant, hot water infused botanicals have been healing and supporting us for centuries.
Why herbal tea?
Herbal teas, or tisanes, are caffeine-free blends of herbs, flowers, fruits, roots, and spices that do not include leaves of the camellia sinensis plant. As an herbalist, I find the ritual of herbal tea a gentle and accessible introduction to the healing power of plants.
Blending formulas and aspiring to make them delicious and nutritious is always my goal. My latest comes right in time for an unusual winter season. The holidays are here again, and this year we are six feet apart from normal and one Zoom cheers away from the end of a long and hard year.
With so much being different, new, and uncomfortable, I felt familiar holiday spices were a must in the ingredient lineup, so you can count on the classics ginger, cinnamon, clove, orange, and vanilla. And, yes, I used whole, hand-scraped vanilla beans and peeled, dried, and chopped the fresh organic oranges. It was worth the work.
But the stars of this formula, and who I really want to talk about, are herbs tulsi (otherwise known as holy basil) and hawthorn.
Tulsi is a plant I work with all the time, for myself and for others. I find its medicine is needed quite often, and there aren't many things this plant can't remedy. This herb is incredibly powerful but gently works its magic. Chemically, tulsi is made up of a high concentration of volatile oils, which contribute to its antiviral, antibacterial, and immunity boosting properties. It is also classified as an “adaptogen,” meaning it protects and supports our bodies’ natural abilities in managing stress, acting as what I like to call “mama's little helper.”
This powerful herb is also a superpower for the nervous system and contains brain healing compounds that help regulate neurotransmitter function and activity. Essentially, I view tulsi as a master communicator. It steps up in the body and makes sure the right parts are communicating clearly, and I find this effect radiates out into behavior as well. When I’m working with tulsi, I feel aligned with my truth and the power to act on it. I never go far without this plant, especially in times of turbulence. Tulsi provides the insight and endurance to stay grounded, steady, and centered through the ups and downs of life. With a sweet, spicy aroma, tulsi radiates complexity and embodies royalty. This herb strongly rules her kingdom humbly, yet assertively. Particularly now, when we are holding hands with uncertainty, I find drinking or taking tulsi medicine is like ingesting flexibility, patience, and resilience.
Hawthorn, leaf and flower.
Hawthorn, the other headliner of this herbal tea, is an age-old heart tonic that supports all facets of the cardiovascular system inside and out. It acts as a vasodilator with an ability to widen the blood vessels, supporting healthy, oxygenated blood flow as well as assisting circulation and regulating blood pressure. But what I love hawthorn for most is, it has this ability to help us “flex” through heart-wrenching moments, coming out stronger and more open. This has been such a vulnerable year. So much has happened so quickly. With all that’s coming at us and our safety and security being threatened, the natural reflex is to stay closed and protected. Hawthorn provides us with the strength and compassion to live vulnerably with healthy boundaries. This wisdom I find to be imperative right now.
The combination of these botanical forces with the vibrational power of carnelian and rose quartz essence make for a real sweet treat. Carnelian lifts while rose quartz opens, together they spark joy one sip at a time.
So—if you find yourself this season with a case of the blues, before you fall into scrolling doom, consider turning the kettle on. Wild times call for wild remedies. Try brewing up some Joy. Perhaps your moment of joy will even lift someone else.