There’s something about these shorter, cooler days as the season winds down that makes you wish you could hold onto just a little bit of summer for later—for the more extreme months, for the harder days. Something about the satisfaction of the conclusion of another good growing season inspires hope as we gather the fruits of those hard-working seeds. Some flowers and leaves, depending on zone, are at still pretty delectable right now, what with all that making do with the last of the warm late summer/early autumn sun drawing sweet, pungent essential oils to the surface of their cells.
Not a gardener? No worries—farmer’s markets should still have some fresh herbs: sage, basil, lemon balm, oregano, maybe even lavender, wild roses, or mints. Use your nose and combine anything that gets you ready for, or eases you down from, a long, sweet day of making the most of the sun, fresh air, and watching the season change.
By drying our fresh herbs and blending them in bulk, we can carry our sweet summer days with us throughout the year. After all, the power of scent can transport us from raging blizzard to verdant flower garden in an instant. Growing and buying, blending and drying in bulk is good, year-round planning.
A few of my favorite brews follow—but feel free to experiment. That’s what all this free-flowing energy is all about—sunny, free-for-all creativity. You can also brew these teas in large quantities using quart-sized Mason jars. Just strain and store your tea in the fridge for a few days, either drinking it cold on warm days (I like to add a splash of fizzy mineral water to my cool glasses of tea for a little extra kick) or warming it on cool ones. For longer storage, pour into ice cube trays and freeze.
Blooming Blossom Tea: A lovely way to make the most of the garden and farmer’s market bounty:
1 part mint leaves (spearmint, chocolate mint, peppermint): peppermint is warming and drying; spearmint is cooling and drying.
½ part rose petals (choose wild roses such as Rosa rugosa and Rosa canina: Beach or Rugosa Rose and Dog Rose, respectively): roses are cooling and drying.
½ part lemon balm: cooling and balancing
½ part chamomile flowers: cooling and drying
¼ part dried ginger or a squeeze of fresh ginger juice: warming, stimulating, and energizing
¼ part hibiscus: cooling and balancing
High Summer Tea: The herbs here are lovely for moving blood, increasing circulation, and regulating body temperature.
1 part spearmint: cooling and drying
¼ part sage: taken as a cool infusion, sage cools the body; taken warm, it heats it
¼ part elder flowers and/or berries: cooling and drying
¼ part rosehips: cooling and drying
¼ part red clover blossoms: cooling and balancing
Winter-Warmer Tea: Gather herbs now to set aside for the colder months. Having this tea dried and ready to go in large jars will make even the fiercest storm that much milder.
1 part nettle leaf: cooling and drying
¼ part dried citrus peel (orange, lemon, or grapefruit): warming, energizing, and balancing
¼ part lavender: warming and relaxing
¼ part ginger: warming and drying
1/8 part sage: taken as a hot infusion, sage warms the body
1/8 part rosemary: warming and drying
For all blends, feel free to use fresh or dried herbs. If you have a combination of fresh and dried, use half as much dried as you do fresh. The amount of tea per cup of water is entirely personal and dictated by your taste. Since I like my teas strong, I use a tablespoon of tea per cup of boiling water, cover and steep for 15 minutes, then strain and pour, either drinking it hot or storing in the fridge.
Whatever your seasonal blends look like, let yourself be led by color, scent, abundance, and taste. Carry this warmth with you and let it feed you all year long.
~Amy Holt, CMBG Writer/Editor