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  • Holiday Gifts: Making Herbal Teas and Blends

    by Liz Koch

    This holiday season make personal winter cordials for warming the soul, opening the heart, and healing the body. Blending herbs and infusing them in brandy or vodka or drinking hot tea blended herbs is an ancient tradition that is beneficial and easy to enjoy. Way of Life offers a wonderful choice of both western and eastern herbs.

    Many times people report that the herbs they chose or were chosen for them, didn’t work. After a few experiences, many people just come to the conclusion that ‘herbs don’t work for me’. According to the energetic system of Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine it is of the most importance to match the energy of the person with the energy of the herbs.

    This is not as straightforward as it may seem as energies can change as herbs are synergistically blended together, or the energy of the person may change according to what is happening with them. For example: Are you, at the present time, running cold, hot or somewhere in between?

    Herbs chosen for a person with a fever will be different than if that same person was shivering with chills.This is why Valerian doesn’t work for everyone (especially menopausal women) because it is very warming and if you are warm already, you will not be lulled to sleep, you can very likely be wired! When you learn the energies of the various herbs, it allows you to have a more intimate relationship with them on a deeper level than just expecting a certain reaction. The true essence of the plant medicine is understood, revered and the medicinal results are greatly enhanced.

    It is also important to balance each tea blend. For instance, a ‘cool’ tea for when you are very hot should still be tempered with at least one warming herb because too much cold would be too unbalancing and the warm herb helps transport or move the cooling qualities where it needs to go (for example the lungs). A helpful rule to remember is: warm & hot “moves,” cool & cold “constricts;” an artful combination will supply the very best blend. And then WOW-you get results!

    Matching the energy of the person with the choice of the herbal blends goes to a whole other level. To get started, you do not have to be a professional herbalist. In the past every kitchen was stocked with herbs known to boost immunity, ease digestion and support wellness. Common garden and daily herbs still offer powerful nutritional support, just as an array of vegetables and fruits do. Although Linda is the first to acknowledge it may not be as straightforward as concocting a salad or soup it is one part intuition and another part getting familiar with herbs.

    “Herbal energies change”, explains Linda. This change occurs both when herbs are synergistically blended together, and/or, when the energy of the person changes according to what is happening with them.

    Way of Life offers an amazing array of dried herbs for both personal use and for gift making. With the Holidays in full swing, giving herbal blended teas and cordials are inexpensive on the budget and refreshingly artful. Placed in a cellophane bag with a ribbon and tag explaining what herbs you have selected and how to enjoy, a tea blend can relax, release stress or strengthen and support. In an expressive glass bottle, corked and sealed with beeswax, a winter tonic chock full of nourishing herbs promotes health and fortifies us into the New Year. For you, the gift giver, making these gifts is so much more than a necessary task; it is shear fun.

    So where to begin: Below are two fresh herbal blended recipes to try at home for you, your family and to serve to your holiday guests.

    Ginger-Rosehips Special Syrup by Linda Vaughan

    1 cup Rosehips

    Handful of fresh, grated ginger

    1 tsp. cinnamon chips

    1 tsp (or a bit more if desired) fresh grated orange rind (dried if fresh is not available)

    3 cups water

    Honey to taste

    Gently simmer rosehips in water for 20 minutes. Add ginger, cinnamon and orange rind and simmer another 10 minutes, keeping pan covered. Turn off heat and allow mixture to cool slightly then strain through a fine strainer (or cheesecloth). Squeeze as much liquid out as possible. Add enough honey to slightly thicken and sweeten the syrup. Stir well and refrigerate. Can be heated (never boil) gently and served over pancakes or waffles. It is very yummy and effective for sore throats. Rich in vitamin C, it is great to have on hand all winter. Children love it too!

    Ginger-Licorice Digestive Tea

    From Jeanine Pollak’s Healing Tonics Published by Storey Books

    1 Part grated fresh Gingerroot

    1 part peppermint leave

    1 part lemon verbena leaves

    1/8 Part Licorice Root

    Make an infusion, enjoy 1-2 cups with or after meals. To make an infusion pour boiling water over the herbs, stir well, cover and steep for 15-20 minutes.

    Liz Koch is the Way of Life Health Educator www.coreawareness.com