When I asked for feedback on herbal topics you wanted to hear about, the theme was: common plants for basic issues. I figure simple preparations are also good. (Those of you with specific topics, I haven’t forgotten and I’ll get to those too) I know it can seem that my herbalism is very place specific. And in a way it is, I mainly use herbs that grow around me, that I can harvest or grow myself. However, many of these herbs are also very common in most parts of the United States. If you purchase an edible or medicinal plant guidebook specific to your region it should tell you if these plants grow near you. Chances are most of them do. Any you can’t find locally can be easily purchased in dried form. I really like Mountain Rose Herbs and Pacific Botanicals. Both are near-ish to me and great companies with dependable quality herbs. Oh, and I’ll try to include pictures of the living herbs if I have them, which will hopefully be helpful to those of you interested in learning to gather your own.
So first in a series of simple herbal preparations: a tea for dry, hot conditions, which can often occur this time of year due to climate.
In August I really start to feel the lack of moisture in the environment. We’re deep into our dry, rain-free spell here in our Mediterranean climate. The grass has long since set seed and died back. All the wild herby plants, except the most tenacious (wild lettuce, chicory) or those right next to water, have also decided to wait for the rains. Hiking leaves my mouth coated in dust. And while I enjoy the spicy, dusty smell of the trails covered in crushed California bay leaves, I also miss the green damp smell of the winter months.
During this time, water with lemon just doesn’t cut it for rehydration. I need regular quart jars of moistening herbs steeped for a long time to extract all their mineral rich goodness. Maybe you too are parched with end-of-summer heat? Here’s an herbal tea recipe for you.
Moistening, Mineral-rich Tea:
3 parts dried nettle leaf
3 parts fresh borage leaves and flowers, chopped small (very, very easy to grow in your garden)
1/2 part mallow root or 1 part mallow leaves
pinch of american licorice
(optional) pinch of cinnamon chips or fennel seeds for flavor
Place all ingredients in a quart jar, except for mallow root [mallow's mucilage is best extracted with lukewarm or cool water]. Pour boiling water into the jar until full, leaving one inch of head space. Cover and steep until room temperature, at this point add the mallow root, stir and recover. Steep four more hours. Strain and sip throughout the day.
What it’s good for:
Replenishing moisture. When your skin and digestion and nerves feel dry and hot. And you wish you could go backpack out in the Cascade mountains for a month where everything is coated in moss (ok, that’s how I feel…). When you feel over-heated and irritable with a red tongue. It’s a great source of easily absorbed minerals.Used regularly it can also help rebuild tired, stressed adrenals and calm the nervous system. This is also a great tea for women going through menopause and experiencing hot flashes and irritability. If using for this purpose you could also add sage and primrose (if it grows around you).
Feeling cold and clammy. A tongue with a thick white coat indicating cold-dampness.