INFUSED MUSINGS

La Résistance

October 24th, 2014 No comments

Resist_Tea

Fall has always been my favorite time of year  – the crisp air and golden light motivate and inspire.  And the cooler evenings (even here in SoCal!) call out for a hot cup of tea. It is also a time when I think about fortifying my body in anticipation of seasonal ills.

It is no coincidence that Resist tea, with its sweet earthen flavor composed of amber and chestnut hued roots, barks and leaves, was formulated in the fall.  Of all our blends, Resist came together the most effortlessly – a harmonious marriage of immune system-bolstering botanicals.

A Strong Vine for a Strong Body

Two of Resist’s main ingredients – cat’s claw and smilax – are traditional rainforest remedies.  I first discovered cat’s claw and smilax as a part of my Lyme disease treatment and felt their powerful effects almost immediately. Cat’s claw, a towering vine that grows in the Amazon rainforest, has been brewed medicinally since before the dawn of the Incan civilization. Indigenous tribes in Peru use cat’s claw to treat inflammation, rheumatism and intestinal issues. Modern research has confirmed the vine’s anti-inflammatory action, as well as its stimulating effects on the immune system.

The Original Root Beer

Smilax, native to Central America and Mexico, was valued as a powerful tonic by Native Americans and quickly embraced by settlers. In fact, smilax, otherwise known as sarsaparilla, was one of the main ingredients in early America’s most popular health tonic drink – root beer. Pharmacists would custom blend and brew smilax and other herbs, and mix the syrup with carbonated water to create a healthy fountain drink. Smilax’s status as a tonic is not surprising given its historical use as a blood purifier, anti-inflammatory, and a remedy for systemic weakness.

The Tree of Life

Another main player on Resist tea’s defense team is olive leaf – one of my go-to remedies for colds and flus.  The  native Mediterranean’s “Tree of Life” has been a part of herbalist traditions for millennia. Olive leaf’s active compound, oleuropein, has been extensively studied and found to be a broad-spectrum weapon against viral, bacterial and fungal infections.

A Plant for Protection

Adding further fortification is holy basil or tulsi as it is known in its native India.  The holy basil plant is revered as a sacred plant in the Hindu tradition, used to support body, mind and spirit. The plant is a symbol of protection, used during worship, to fashion prayer beads worn during meditation, and of course as a tea. Holy basil is a powerful adaptogen, regulating stress in the body and enhancing vitality. It also supports the respiratory system, making it a first line of defense for colds and flus. Holy basil’s sweet yet penetrating aroma elevates the spirit when the body and mind are down.

Rounding out Resist is the great harmonizer: licorice. A staple herb in Traditional Chinese Medicine formulas, licorice is considered a synergist and has myriad uses. It works wonders for soothing coughs and sore throats, relieves gastrointestinal issues, enhances immune function, and combats fatigue thanks to its adaptogenic properties.

Resist‘s army of superherbs enhances the body’s defenses and comes to your aid when you’re run down.  And as the days turn darker, you might also take solace in the autumnal spirit infused in Resist tea.

 

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INFUSED MUSINGS

Spring Cleaning

March 20th, 2014 No comments

Spring Flower Fields

 

As the heavy, stagnant nature of winter gives way to the lightness of spring, our bodies and minds naturally want to transition in harmony with the seasons. This primal urge may manifest as cleaning our closets, opening up windows, gravitating towards salads, or a general desire to get “healthy.”

 

Spring Tonics

Symbolically, spring is a time of renewal, and as such, it’s a perfect time to step up one’s intake of tonic and cleansing herbs. A healthy lymphatic system (our body’s purification system) is central to our ability to eliminate toxins from our tissues. Cleavers and goldenrod, two wild growing weeds, are among our favorite herbs to support lymphatic drainage.  Cleavers, which emerges as the season shifts, is a classic spring tonic taken to stimulate the lymph and purify the blood. Goldenrod, whose latin name, Solidago translates as “to make whole” or “to heal,” has myriad uses as a cleansing herb.  Herbalists turn to goldenrod’s flowering tops to support the kidneys, and as such, to help flush toxins. It is also used for congestion throughout the body, sore throats, and general malaise – a perfect antidote to the lingering ills of winter.  We find goldenrod’s flavor truly reflects its actions – slightly bitter, astringent and floral. Contrary to its reputation as an allergy-inducing weed, goldenrod is not a wind-pollinated plant, and in fact, may be used to counter seasonal allergies. Another detoxifying botanical little used in the US is black currant leaf.  A favored drainage remedy by French phytotherapists, black currant leaf has mild diuretic properties, decreases inflammation and reduces tissue congestion.

 

Liver Loving Herbs

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, spring is closely associated with the liver – an organ that holds the critical responsibility of filtering our blood and breaking down toxins.  There are many herbs to choose from to encourage the healthy detoxification pathways of the liver. They are often of a bitter nature, such as dandelion root, blessed thistle, and burdock root.  For Purify , we turned to chanca piedra, an Amazon rainforest herb with impressive clinical research supporting its indigenous use to detoxify and protect the liver. Chanca piedra translates as “stone breaker” as it is widely taken to assist in preventing and eliminating gallstones and kidney stones.  Calendula blossoms are also considered a liver tonic, as well as offering soothing properties.

As spring fever strikes, revitalize your inner terrain with Purify’s synergistic blend of these cleansing herbs. Its bright lemon myrtle aroma will help clear away any clutter of the mind before you tackle that winter closet.

 

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INFUSED MUSINGS

Cistus – The Olympic Superherb

November 10th, 2013 No comments

Cistus creticus

 

According to local Greek lore, the gods and goddesses of Mt. Olympus fought over the healing powers of the Cistus plant. While the male deities determined the herb should be reserved to heal wounded warriors, the goddesses claimed the plant was best used for the maintenance of their beauty. In the end, they agreed to share the gifts of Cistus – a medicinal plant that has proven to be a true “superherb” for us mortals.

More commonly known as Rock Rose, the Cistus plant is native to the Mediterranean coastal region, where it adorns rocky terrain with its delicate rose-like pink flowers. It has spread around the world to regions with similar climates, including most of coastal California. However, its use as a medicinal plant is little known outside of its indigenous habitat.

 

A Perfumed Past

Cistus is the source of labdanum, an aromatic resin that has been used medicinally and in perfumery since the 4th century B.C. With its complex, penetrating scent of balsam and amber, labdanum has long been a precious ingredient in classic fragrances.

In Greece, and in particular, the isle of Crete, labdanum resin was traditionally collected by herding flocks of goats through the sticky Cistus shrubs until sufficient resin was collected on the goats’ hair, at which point the goats were rounded up and shorn. The shorn hair was boiled until the labdanum resin separated and could be skimmed off the top of the water.  This laborious process has since been replaced by more modern methods for commercial production, but in certain villages in Crete, farmers continue to collect labdanum with goats as their ancestors did, or by pulling a rake-like tool through the plants.

 

Ant-Aging Super-Antioxidants

Besides its place in perfumery, Cistus has long been enjoyed as a healthy tea by those lucky enough to live in its midst. The tea’s popular therapeutic applications include colds, flus, sore throats, skin conditions, infections and rheumatism.  We first discovered Cistus for its use in Lyme disease protocols as a biofilm buster and some say, as a natural tick-repellant when imbibed daily.

Scientific studies have confirmed Cistus’ health benefits, including its ability to help eliminate toxins in the body. Best studied is Cistus’ super high concentration of polyphenols – antioxidants that combat disease-causing free radicals and possess powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Cistus’ polyphenol content far surpasses more commonly known antioxidant stars green tea, elderberry and red wine. It may be no coincidence that the Cistus drinking people of Crete commonly live into their 90s and 100s. The plant’s anti-aging properties extend to its effect on the skin. The very polyphenols that support our inner terrain encourage radiant, healthy complexions by boosting cellular rejuvenation.

We sampled Cistus from a number of Southern European countries, but it wasn’t until we tasted Cistus hand-harvested from the sun-kissed pristine hills of Crete that we truly experienced the herb’s sensual powers and complexity. Cistus creticus (a species unique to the island of Crete) is also considered one of the most medicinal of the Rock Rose family. The scent and flavor of the dried leaves are as hard to describe as the resin it produces.  When brewed, the flavor is grounding and redolent of pine and sweet incense. In combination with nettles, lemongrass, lemon peel, red clover blossoms and rose hips in our age-defying GLOW blend, it is softened, lingering on the palate like the base note it holds in a fine perfume.

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INFUSED MUSINGS

Do-It-Yourself Summer Teas

June 25th, 2013 No comments

Cherry Stems
It’s finally summertime and the possibilities for refreshing, healthful herbal infusions are endless. Whether you have your own backyard herb garden, a window box, or access to a farmer’s market, here are a few of our favorite brew-ready plants you may not have thought of adding to your next steaming mug or over ice.

Cherry Stems
Yes, that’s correct: cherry stems. With a penchant for all things French, I must confess this one falls in the “if it’s French, it must be fantastique” category. I stumbled across cherry stem tea in a French pharmacy and upon further investigation, learned that the cherry stems are prized for their gentle detoxifying/diuretic properties. I have found the subtle sweet aged cherry flavor to be quite lovely, and a strong infusion seems to have a definite de-bloating effect. So with your next batch of organic cherries, set aside the stems to dry for a few days and then infuse a handful for about 10 minutes. You can also simmer them for a few minutes before letting them infuse further.

Berry Leaves
If you’re lucky enough to have your own berry patch, consider harvesting the young leaves before the plants flower. Dried blackberry, raspberry and strawberry leaves are all rich in tannins and have astringent qualities, making them good digestives. Drink as a hot infusion or chill and add some fresh sliced berries to the pitcher to enhance the fruity flavors.

Wondrous Weeds
One of our favorite unsung herbal heroes, goldenrod, which figures in our Purify blend, is hard to miss when it is in full summer bloom. It grows wild throughout North America, often along roadsides. To harvest, cut the flowering tops and hang upside down in bundles to dry. Then infuse as you would one of our teas – for 10-20 minutes. Read up on goldenrod’s medicinal benefits here.

Two other common weeds not to be overlooked are nettles and red clover. Nettles can often be found at farmer’s markets this time of year as they are a true superfood. For an infusion, carefully hang them to dry (wear gloves to avoid the nettles sting but once dry they’re harmless) and then steep a teaspoon or two per cup for a super nutritious grassy green infusion. Nettles blends well with mints which are also readily available at markets. If you’re lucky enough to have access to a meadow dotted with red clover, grab a basket and join the honeybees in their revel. Clip the brightest pink/mauve blossoms and then dry on a rack or window screen in the shade. When infused, red clover blossoms have a faintly sweet herbal flavor. The blossoms have a long history of use by Western herbalists for their detoxifying properties. We’ll be including nettles and red clover blossoms in our upcoming anti-aging blend (here’s a sneak peek).

Of course it goes without saying, make sure to use only organic or wild plants growing far from polluted, industrial areas for all your DIY herbal teas.

Enjoy the herbal bounty of the season and the joys of making your own fresh teas!

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INFUSED MUSINGS

Nothing Like the Real Thing

January 23rd, 2013 No comments

Marigold & Mint Tea

When formulating our therapeutic tea blends, our taste buds were our first and most inescapable critics. The healing properties of a medicinal tea are set in motion as soon as the brew hits the palate. And in our minds and mouths, fooling the taste buds with added “flavorings” disrupts this pathway from the get go.

Sadly, there is a lot of fooling going on in the tea industry. We are one of a very few herbal tea companies who have chosen to buck the added flavoring trend, in favor of truly authentic whole leaf taste. Next time you’re in the tea aisle of your market, take a moment to scan the ingredients on some of the more popular “healthy” teas. You’ll find “natural flavors” or “natural flavorings” tacked on at the end of the ingredients list on the majority of labels.

What has happened to our taste buds that the real thing is no longer enough? There are a myriad of reasons why tea companies choose to add flavorings, and none of them make me feel particularly good about drinking them. Even with the best flavored teas, what I taste is flavoring, not the complexity of a single or combination of herbs. I always wonder what the tea would taste like without the flavor spray tan. Would it be bland? Are the herbs used fresh, or do they need the flavorings to mask their inferior quality? Black currant is a much loved flavor in teas but you’ll be hard pressed to find actual black currant leaf or berry in any tea. In PURIFY, you’ll find authentic black currant leaf grown organically on a small farm in France. In combination with hibiscus, it imparts a unique, rich tangy flavor.

By working with the best organic farmers and wildcrafters, and using whole leaf botanicals, we are able to harness the natural aromas and flavors, blend them synergistically, and bring them straight to your cup. Like whole foods, our whole herb teas belong on the outer aisles of the grocery store where you find fresh, unprocessed healthful choices.

It may take a little time to wean your taste buds from the over-flavored and often cloyingly sweet tastes of many “wellness” teas, but give it a little time and you may find you no longer favor these so called “natural flavorings.” And if you want to amp up or play with the taste of our teas, you might try adding some other whole ingredients such as raw honey, stevia, or a slice of orange or lemon. Or take a tip from Russian tea drinkers. A friend of mine who recently returned from a trip to Moscow reported that Russian tea masters added sprigs of aromatic fresh thyme to the samovar of brewed black tea, bringing zest to their cup, not to mention a great natural immune boost for those negative degree Russian winter days.

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