Pleasures of Winter: cups of tea

February 4, 2014

I have a renewed interest in tea this season. Specifically herbal ones – see blog posts here and here.

This Winter I’ve been using what I collected and dried myself last Spring. I also stocked up on a few novel brews from new suppliers, re-invested in a kettle with temperature control, and re-opened a book that’s been patiently sitting in a ‘pending’ pile.

The book is called A Garden of Miracles, by Jill Davies, who is a herbalist. She did a talk last year about what to use from the kitchen for Winter illnesses which you can still watch on YouTube. I’ve enjoyed scouting about for different pine needles ever since – LOL! I bought the book partly because it was recommended by Kitty Campion (another herbalist who encouraged a younger me – via another book – to look in the kitchen for all sort of remedies and skin-care treatments: rub potatoes (or was it onions?) over warts, throw oats into the bath, mash-up strawberries, bananas, papaya, avocadoes to smear over skin, or apply honey to cuts & grazes etc.)

Herb TeaI’ve always been particular about tea for all sorts of reasons. Partly because I’m a nutrition nerd with antennae for any food/drink that is health-supporting, and I love to research the history of foods that appeal to me. Partly because of a cultural disposition to respect tea (my mother’s Chinese, afterall). Partly because I adore the refined afternoon ritual (especially when accompanied by cakes). Mostly though, it’s because standard black tea can seriously disrupt my sleep – unlike coffee, curiously – so I have to be careful with it. Whilst we’re all probably aware that tea contains caffeine, it was news to me that it contains twice as much as coffee. Aha! A fact I gleaned from this book.

The book doesn’t appear to have many reviews which would prompt you to seek it out, but really it is a treasure if you want to understand what options there are (thousands), and how to get practical on several fronts from growing, to blending, and of course preparing and drinking. The reason I value this book is because it has depth, but is at the same time, eminently practical. It inspires. It coaxes you to reconnect with the plant world: to cultivate your knowledge of what’s beneficial and accessible to us all; to nurture the simple ways you can take action to maintain your own health. Taking that idea on board means I shall be offering a foraging class of my own this Spring, on land that hasn’t been sprayed for over 30 years. Keep any eye on updates for more more news about this. If you don’t already subscribe to my ezine, please do to keep in that loop.

Finally, did I mention that herbal teas can taste great? Beneficial and enjoyable. If you haven’t found one to suit your pallete yet, look some more; look beyond the supermarket. Get thee to a real tea-merchants (or a herbalist). As I write this I am sipping a lively cup of mullein and star anise tea (gently detoxifying). Not a processed blend in a tea-bag, but from an intriguing pouch that contains a medley of organic and wild-crafted plants. I pick through the items when I scoop some up for the pot, sniffing and wondering if I could identify the plants on my own outdoors, whether I could sow some to harvest myself this year. That’s what I want from my food – nourishment on several levels.   “…not all life’s pleasures are illegal, immoral or fattening” – Kitty Campion (from Forward to the book)

Want to learn more about the intriguing topic of tea as health tonic?

Join me for a special class:  Tea, and more.

Sunday 23rd Feb 2014.

 PS. If, like me, you can’t resist the idea of a secret, walled garden, Jill Davies supplies her own brand of herbal teas, grown and blended from just such a place –  hop over to there. Don’t you find the very thought of a physik garden like this, a bit of magic?



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