Warming winter tea tonics
Common black and green teas are often flavored with herbs. There are a big variety if these found on store shelves, so no need to stick to one kind. Eloyce prefers green tea with different herbs such as peppermint or lemon grass. Erin has quite a stash of different teas in her cupboard as well but usually sticks to straight herbal tea blends (naturally caffeine free). Other members of the family drink tea as well, with peppermint making an appearance after Christmas dinner to soothe an upset tummy for Travis. Nettle tea is popular on the farm for Al. He wild harvested the nettle from an area where he hunts after Erin told him it would be helpful for lung and breathing function. We also made a special blend for a customer with a consistent cough. She was often embarrassed in church or other gatherings because even the slightest tickle would produce a cough. Her tea is made from sage and anise hyssop which she sips as needed to alleviate the cough.
Herbal teas have less color than traditional teas so don’t expect the typical dark color of black or green teas. Based on the herbs used, you can have a hint of pink, lavender, yellow, or pale green tones.
A fun and interesting activity for winter is to make your own teas. You have all those dried herbs from summer, right? Let’s put them to good use to craft some useful winter tea tonics.
Sage – this is one of Erin’s very favorite herbs, and she loves to use it for her frequent sinuitus, which causes sore throats. It is a very warming and drying herb, so helps with nasal congestion. Beyond tea, it also makes a great gargle and throat spray.
Rose Hips – packed with Vitamin C, these little fruits of Rosa spp. can provide you with a tasty source of key vitamins and minerals that can support your immune system, with a hint of sweet and sour. You can harvest your own rose hips right from your own yard! Dry them whole and let the hot water steep these a bit longer to help soften them up.
Ginger – this spicy and warming root is a great addition to your winter time teas to help warm you up from the inside out. It blends well with sage and can help soothe sore throats too. Just a little slice or two of fresh ginger, or some dried ginger chunks is all it takes. Erin loves to sip on ginger tea all winter to help ease cold hands and feet that seem to be the plague of her office work during the winter season. She prefers whole ginger to powdered, as it is a bit easier to determine just the right amount – the powder always seems a little too powerful for her.
Catnip – this herb that is commonly known for some kitty time fun is actually very relaxing for people, and local herbalist friends use it for children’s fevers. It is a cooling and calming member of the mint family, so it makes a great addition for a cold and flu blend or an uplifting blend for winter time blues.
German Chamomile – a common tea herb, soothing tummy troubles from the heavier, richer food we often consumer in the winter months and also easing anxiety from the winter blues. It also can support the natural fever process, so makes a good addition with catnip for a tea.
Lemon Balm – another member of the huge mint family, this one is easy to grow (it’s an escapee in fact at our place and springs up on its own). It’s lemony-minty scent and taste is very uplifting and soothing, supporting relaxation and a more restful sleep, as well as support digestion. Like the other mint family members listed here, it is very cooling, so makes a great herb to add to a cooling blend for hot fevers from cold and flu.
Marshmallow – some people may remember this herb’s root as the key ingredient in the gooey treat of white puffy marshmallows. We prefer the leaves and flowers in our teas; while they have slightly less mucilage than the roots, they are better suited to the hot water infusion than the root. This herb is very soothing to irritated throats by coating those tissues and easing coughs. The mucilage can also help coat inflamed digestive tracts – which sometimes happens during the cold and flu.
Here are a few blend ideas to get you started:
1 part sage
1 part rose hips
1 part anise hyssop
½ part marshmallow (leaves & flowers)
2-3 slices of fresh ginger
Equal parts catnip, German chamomile, and lemon balm
Enjoy your winter and get brewing!
Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide, Rosemary Gladstar. 2012.
The Lemon Balm Plant, Rosalee de la Florét. https://www.herbalremediesadvice.org/lemon-balm-plant.html
Chamomile Benefits, Rosalee de la Florét. https://www.herbalremediesadvice.org/chamomile-benefits.html
Health Benefits of Ginger, Rosalee de la Florét. https://www.herbalremediesadvice.org/health-benefits-of-ginger.html
The Marshmallow Herb, Rosalee de la Florét. https://www.herbalremediesadvice.org/marshmallow-herb.html