The holistic approach, as it applies to everything in life, integrates and celebrates all aspects of our being: physical, emotional, and spiritual. Using herbs in our lives is one of the most practical and accessible ways of accessing all the benefits that earth has to offer; we can use them to create lives that are not just healthier, but also more joyful, life-affirming and satisfying on every level.
Herbs are such a precious gift and we should never lose sight of this, or indeed of our sacred responsibility not only to ourselves, but also to the earth around us and the sacred traditions that can offer us so much if we are just open to these gifts and magic.
What, you may be asking, has this to do with teatime for the soul and spirit? Everything, on a certain level, for if we use herbs in the simplest of ways—by making infusions or tisanes—we can absorb their healing magic in a very traditional and also natural way. Obviously herbal teas and infusions are suitable for many applications on both the medical and spiritual level, but here I am going to focus on some herbal tea ideas that are particularly suited to supporting us on an emotional level, especially with the stress and anxiety that often seems to be an inescapable part of life these days!
Making Basic Herbal Teas
Both dried and fresh herbs, plants ,and flowers (leaves, seeds, roots, or blossoms) can be used to make herbal infusions, or teas. You can use either dried or fresh herbs—fresh herbs are preferable in some ways, not least because of the fresher taste of the finished drink as a result of the volatile oils that have been drawn out by the hot water, but dried herbs are sometimes more practical and easier to obtain in certain seasons.
You should always use water that is just off-boiling point; if your water is not of the best quality or carries a chemical taste, it is better to use natural, still spring water. Prepare herbal teas in glass, china, or earthenware pots or cups, not metal or plastic. To make a single serving of herbal tea, place 1 teaspoon dried herbs or 2-3 teaspoons fresh herbs in the cup, and pour over 1 cup/250 ml just boiled water. Cover the cup and allow the tea to steep for 10-15 minutes, then strain into another cup. Sweeten with a little honey, if preferred. (It has to be said that some herbal teas are a little off-putting taste-wise, so honey or another natural sweetener makes them more palatable!) I have also found that adding a thin slice of lemon or very small, thin slice of fresh ginger to a cup of herbal tea can make them more pleasant to drink.
Just a few warnings: herbs may be natural, but that doesn’t mean they are suitable for everyone; if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medication for any kind of chronic ailment it’s wise to consult your healthcare practitioner before taking herbal medications or teas. The same applies to herbal teas for very young children, and the elderly; in any event, moderation is always the key, and we should generally not consume more than 2-3 cups of herbal tea a day.
The ideas given below are for teas and infusions made using a single herb or flower, also known as simples or tisanes. Obviously it’s possible to create many wonderful and healing tea blends by combining various plants; the more “traditional” teas such as black and green tea (which also have their own medicinal and healing qualities), can also form part of these special blends. (You will find many recipes and ideas for magical tea blends in my new book, Enchanted Teatime.)
Teas for a Joyful Heart
Joy is—or should be—our natural state, a sense of innate wellbeing and simple happiness, but the reality is that the various events of life can sometimes strip away this simple joy and leave us feeling hollow, sad, and empty. Some herbs that are particularly good for creating renewed feelings of hope and tranquility are lavender, lemon balm, linden flower, and meadowsweet. The beautiful and evocative scent of lavender is, of course, a favorite with so many of us, and with good reason, for it creates gentle harmony within the body and soul and lifts the spirit. Teas made with lavender can be quite strong, as this is a deceptively gentle herb, so it’s a good idea to err on the side of caution when making your infusion; you can use dried or fresh lavender flowers or leaves to make teas, but they should be finely chopped or crumbled.
Lemon balm is another beautiful and freshly fragrant herb that has long been credited with lifting/balancing the emotions and counteracting sadness or melancholy. Often, we feel unhappy because a buildup of strong emotions has left us fearful and confused, and lemon balm can counteract this, and bring us back into a state of calm and inner peace and security.
Teas for Peace and Stillness
We live in a world that places so many demands on us every day and on every level: at home, at work, in our communities, and so on. We are conditioned to feel that we must achieve, constantly, or we will somehow fall behind and lose out. Understandably this leads to stress, strain, and confusion. There are many herbs that can help us in our quest for greater peace and calm, on both the physical and emotional level, and the simple act of drinking an herbal infusion can give us a chance to slow down, reflect, and regroup.
Some herbs/flowers that are helpful for peace and tranquillity include passionflower, hops, catmint, and rose. Passionflower, an ancient and much-loved herb, is excellent for creating a sense of calm, and is particularly helpful when we are battling to sleep or relax due to over-active thoughts and fears. Catmint, too, is not just wildly popular with cats but has a gentle, relaxing effect on our nervous system; catmint tea can also be given to children who are nervous or anxious.
Rose—no-one needs to have the beauty and fragrance of the rose described to them; it’s probably the most popular flower in the world, and with good reason. However, it’s so much more than just a pretty face—rose is a powerful healer of emotions and helps to restore us to a state of balance and calm when we are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and irritable. Infusions made with fresh or dried rose petals are a truly wonderful way of nurturing ourselves, body and soul.
Teas for Strength and Energy
Energy: that which makes us move forward, strive and achieve; as human beings we are filled with energies on both physical and spiritual levels, but sometimes our energies become depleted for many reasons, and we find ourselves sinking into apathy, stagnation, and general exhaustion. There are herbs that can help us move past this tiredness and lack of enthusiasm for life and open us up to renewed hope and vigor. Some of the most well-known of these are rosemary, peppermint, and thyme.
Rosemary is a tonic herb, traditionally used after periods of illness or physical depletion; it not only stimulates the body on a physical level, but also empowers and enlivens the spirit. However, it is a strong herb and should be used judiciously and with restraint; avoid rosemary tea if you are pregnant or have high blood pressure. The taste does not appeal to everyone, but using honey makes it more palatable.
Peppermint and thyme are both very familiar herbs in the kitchen, and also powerful little spiritual helpers. Thyme is said to give us both courage and confidence in ourselves and our abilities, especially when we are feeling depressed or full of self-doubt; it helps us to find the inner strength we need to confront and overcome obstacles in our lives.
Peppermint has been a part of traditional ceremonies over the centuries and was used to create an atmosphere of clarity and inspiration. Drink peppermint tea when you need to clear your mind and clarify your thinking; it’s also a gentle tea, and can be safely drunk by just about everybody, including young children.
Teas to Comfort and Balance
Balance, both within and without: something we all need but often find lacking in our lives. And sometimes we need to remind ourselves that it’s okay to slow down, to take care of ourselves, and allow ourselves time out to rebalance soul and spirit. There are several herbs that can be used for this, but the ones I like the best are basil, chamomile, and elderflower.
Basil is a familiar culinary herb to many of us, but what some of us may not know is that it is a powerful adaptogenic, which not only helps the body and mind deal with stress and toxins of all kinds, but also acts as a balancing tonic. I think basil is best used fresh in teas and infusions, as the dried version seems to be less effective; if you can get or grow it, holy basil, also known as tulsi, is particularly magical and has long been credited with sacred and healing powers in the East.
Chamomile is a pretty herb, and its tiny flowers are well known for their calming properties, allowing us to gently come back to centre; it’s also particularly beneficial for those of us who struggle to get a good night’s sleep, partly as a result of fears, whether real or imagined. Elderflowers, from the magical elder tree, are an ancient remedy for many ailments, and are renowned for their ability to soothe and balance the nervous system; elderflower tea is particularly delicious and pleasant to drink!
Teas to Cleanse and Clear
If our inner energies become depleted, for whatever reason, this creates tiredness, confusion, and a general lack of motivation in and for our daily lives, which also often shows in physical ways, with heavy, aching joints; blotchy skin; or headaches. Herbal teas are a simple yet effective way of cleansing and revitalizing ourselves, both physically and mentally. Herbs for this include dandelion, marigold, and red clover.
Dandelions are truly magical, ancient little plants, and are said to contain the spirit of the faeries! The leaves, flowers, and roots can all be used in herbal applications; if you use the leaves to make tea, they not only cleanse the body very effectively of toxins, but also act aa a general tonic for the system.
Marigolds are another familiar flower, with their bright, sunlike petals—the dried flowers make a tea that cools and clears the body while at the same time restoring the free flow of energy to the physical and emotional self. Red clover may be less familiar to some of us, but it’s a powerful and deep-acting herb that clears and settles painful or unhelpful emotions, allowing a gentle and peaceful sense of contentment to develop.
Teas for Protection
Sometimes we are assailed by negative or harmful forces, both within and without; obviously we can protect ourselves to a certain extent from illness and infections, but there is also often the need to protect the life force, what ancient Chinese medicine called the qi, and in so doing we strengthen our immune system on all levels.
Mugwort and sage are two ancient remedies for protecting us on every level; mugwort is a magical herb, much used in ritual and ceremony. A simple tea made from mugwort leaves strengthens and warms the body’s energy and uplifts the spirit to counteract negative influences that can lead to depression and fear. Sage, that very familiar culinary herb, is also a powerful herb for healing and strengthening mind and body against harmful forces; over centuries it has been used to restore strength, virility, and general balance in the body and spirit. (Sage tea should be avoided if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.)
So, this is just a very simple introduction to some of the herbal teas that are helpful and healing to our bodies and souls; herbs have been a source of health, sustenance, and delight to us since the beginning of the earth as we know it, and there is no better way to honor these gifts than by using them with love, reverence, and awareness.
“Healing our society goes hand in hand
with healing our personal elemental connection
with the phenomenal world.”
Here’s a look at Gail’s latest release ENCHANTED TEATIME:
Make Any Occasion Magical with Tea Ceremonies, Rituals, and Recipes
This delightful book of teatime traditions, celebrations, and treats shows you how to surround every cup with great joy and intention. Gail Bussi provides more than thirty recipes for refreshments, such as Butterfly Cakes, Dreamy Moon Bars, and Coronation Chicken Tartlets, and over forty unique tea blends, including:
Borage Tea Cooler • Dandelion Divination Tea • Faerie Flower Tea • ImmuniTea • Jasmine Joy Iced Tea • Mood Lifter Tea
Featuring comprehensive information on different varieties of tea and their properties, Enchanted Teatime teaches you everything about brewing the perfect cup. With insight on nearly a hundred herbs, you can confidently create your own custom infusions, learn to read tea leaves, and grow your own herbal garden. From seasonal rituals to astrological correspondences, you’ll explore many ways to use tea in your magical practice.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gail Bussi is a writer, artist, kitchen witch, and professional cook. After running a catering company and writing a cookbook, she returned to her long-held interest in herbs and green magic. Gail has studied holistic herbalism, natural healing, and mindfulness.
COPYRIGHT (2023) Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. All rights reserved.