life curation · relaxation

How to Do a Tea Meditation

Happy Tuesday friends! I hope you all are enjoying a comfortable and happy day wherever you are.

In light of the recent events in the United States, I thought about how I could contribute to the collective energy of peace and kindness. It may sound a little simplistic, but I truly believe that good intentions, prayer, and self-mastery are foundational to creating a more peaceful world. Indeed, if I can create peace within my personal world, I can radiate this out to others, and eventually this energy can start to encourage a peaceful attitude around the world.

I looked around my home to see if I had anything that would create an immediate mood lift. I reached for what has always worked for me: a cup of hot tea. But, instead of simply drinking the tea, I decided to do something a little different. I created a tea meditation around my ritual of enjoying hot tea. After I finished my cup, I felt so much more relaxed and grounded. I figure, if this process can have that effect on me, perhaps it will be of use to you, too.

So here are the steps involved in my tea meditation. If you prefer to watch a video on it, you can see a video demonstration below. Also, if you’re interested in reading more about the rich history of tea and the culture behind the tea ceremony, you should check out The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura. I found the book unexpectedly enlightening and thoroughly inspiring.

  • Pay close attention to every step that you take in preparing your tea: select your tea carefully, listen to the sound of the water as it goes from simmering to boiling, feel the weight of the cup in your hand before and after adding water.
  • Select your sweetener carefully (if you choose to indulge). If you’re inclined. do a taste test of the different sweeteners available and see which one makes your taste buds dance.
  • Gently, slowly and intentionally pour the hot water over your tea. Look intently as the water changes from clear to colored. Look closely to see if the herbs or tea leaves make swirls in the water as it infuses. Get lost in the slow transformation from clear liquid to flavorful beverage.
  • Add your sweetener a little at a time. Taste the difference between levels of sweetness. Connect those levels of sweetness to emotions or actions (perhaps you can compare lightly sweetened to a mild happiness, and the perfect level of sweetness to bliss [maybe like a passionate kiss]).
  • Stir the tea gently with a spoon, to ensure that the flavors are evenly distributed. Immerse all of your senses into the process.
  • Allow the tea to cool a bit before drinking. Take deep, cleansing breaths while you wait, and concentrate on what you want to experience as a result of drinking your tea (happiness, peace, satisfaction, etc.,).
  • Bring the cup up to your lips but, before sipping, deeply inhale the aroma. Try to identify each of the components of the tea by smell.
  • Take a sip, noting the feel of the cup against your lip, the weight of the cup in your hand, and the smell of the tea.
  • Allow the tea to gently swish in your mouth, coming into contact with all of your taste buds. Try to pick up notes of sweetness, bitterness, sourness, or saltiness (an exquisite tea can have elements of each). As you swallow, concentrate once more on what you want to experience.
  • With every sip, engage all of your senses and focus on what you desire.
  • Upon finishing your tea, speak a few words of gratitude, and complete a few more deep, cleansing breaths.

That’s it for today. I hope that this meditation blesses you and helps you tap into a feeling of peace and relaxation, as it has done for me. Take care, and I’ll talk to you all tomorrow.

*This post contains affiliate links.

health

Fibro Friday – Trying St John’s Wort

Happy Fibro Friday! I’m so excited to end this week discussing one of my favorite herbs to help me treat some of my fibromyalgia symptoms. This post is also well timed, considering that January is National Hot Tea Month (I’ve done posts about this in years prior: see here and here).

Enjoying my Winter Wonder Tea

The herb that I’m speaking of is St. John’s wort. St John’s wort is a powerful herb, known for its pain-fighting ability. It works by inhibiting the “protein kinase Cgamma and epsilon activity” through the chemical hypericin (you can find more about that here). It also has the ability to relieve symptoms of depression. That being said, PLEASE don’t try to treat your depression solely with herbal remedies! Make sure to consult your doctor before trying any new regimens.

I’ve been using it as an ingredient in my Winter Wonder tea. I combine it with pau d’arco, cranberry, tangerine and cinnamon. I noticed an improvement in my pain levels as well as a better mood. I am currently taking prescription medication to manage my fibromyalgia symptoms, but I have not achieved complete pain mitigation. So I was excited to see an improvement in how I was feeling and will continue drinking this tea throughout the cold months. I made a video featuring my tea recipe. You can find the video below:

You can purchase St John’s wort here, and if you’re interested in recreating the herbal tea, you can purchase pau d’arco here, and you can purchase freeze-dried tangerines here.

health

Herbalism: My Favorite Tools

As a baby herbalist, I feel fortunate to have so many tools at my disposal. Plant identification apps, online herbalist courses, and countless hours of discussion on YouTube have really opened my eyes to the depth and breadth of the herbalism world.

Today, I’ll be sharing a few tools that I’ve found invaluable in my growing herbal practice. If you’re interested in taking your wellness back into your own hands, I implore you to research safe and effective plants that you can incorporate into your wellness plan, and then venture out into preparing those plants in different ways: as infusions (teas), tonics, tinctures, poultices, and more. The more that you experiment, the more that your knowledge grows. I hope this little list of tools helps you. Enjoy!

One of my first major investments into my herbal practice is my drying rack. I love using this when preparing herbs that I harvested myself, or when I purchase a bundle of fresh herbs at the store. This one by Adwaita is large, and can accommodate a lot of plant material. I use this almost every day, as I frequently find myself eager to preserve my fresh herbs.

After trying to crumble herbs by hand a few times, I knew that I needed a mortar and pestle. This one has a really nice weight and ergonomic design. I love that it doesn’t shift around when I use it: the weighted base keeps the bowl firmly in place. It also has a sleek look that I enjoy.

I regularly prep my herbs on this cutting board. It’s a large and attractive workspace: using it is always a pleasure. I sometimes use it to take photos of some of my herbs as I’m trying different blends. I love this work surface!

Eventually, I’ll be standardizing some of my preparations, so an inexpensive digital scale was a must. I purchased this last week but I haven’t used it yet: I’m looking forward to eventually offering my herbal mixtures and I fully intend to be consistent in my formulations.

These are my favorite herbal tools at this point, and I’m slowing growing my collection to include all of the tools that I need to create the herbal products that I enjoy using. That’s all for today: let me know if you use anything like the items that I mentioned above!

health · life curation

Preparing for Mid-Summer Gardening!

I have still been enjoying time out in my yard, and I’m considering what plants I can start in July (since I was SO behind the ball this season). For the record, I didn’t know that I was going to be so fascinated with gardening, flowers, and nature in general this spring. My fascination blindsided me, so I’m very LATE in garden planning. But that doesn’t mean that all hope is lost! There are quite a few plants that can be started in midsummer and still thrive with ease.

Dreaming of summer gardening . . .

Burpee’s website outlines all of the crops that can be started in July. I wasn’t interested in growing vegetables per se, but if I change my mind, I may try to grow squash. My preference is smaller herbs and maybe some flowers. I found this guide published on The Spruce to be the best one for planning the kind of plants I would like to grow.

The only thing currently blooming in my yard: my gorgeous gardenias!

I’ve very interested in growing cilantro, garlic, basil and (perhaps) arugula or looseleaf lettuce. I want to start small and then expand into bigger plants. I really enjoyed seeing my overall growing options over on the Old Farmer’s Almanac website. There are a lot of plants that can grow in my zone (zone 7) so I’m excited to see if I can squeeze in one more herb or maybe even a fruit (perhaps blackberries or raspberries).

I watched this fantastic video that also gave me some ideas for what I may grow in my zone in July. I like that this guide can be used for multiple zones, not just zone 7. Rare Seeds’s YouTube channel is a wealth of information.

Will any of you be trying some midsummer gardening? Let me know about it in the comments!

beauty · food

5 Ways to Enjoy Tea Without Drinking It

If you enjoy tea as much as I do, you will probably find yourself with quite a tea collection at some point. It’s also inevitable that, the more teas you try, the more likely you are to come across a tea that you don’t enjoy. Whether it’s too bland, too bitter, too strong, or just not very tasty, getting a tea that you don’t enjoy drinking is always a bit disappointing. And let’s face it: some of us just don’t enjoy the flavor of tea.

That being said, I have good news! All hope isn’t lost when you purchase a “dud” tea, or when you find yourself the proud owner of a tea that you won’t be drinking (whether you purchased it or it was gifted to you). In fact, it’s possible to use tea in quite a few different ways around your home and within your beauty routine. Of course, you’ll want to pay attention to the ingredients: certain teas shouldn’t be used near your eyes or allowed to sit on the skin unless you don’t mind having some discomfort (“hotter” tea ingredients, like ginger and cayenne come to mind). As always, use wisdom and discretion with any of these recommendations.

Without further ado, here are five ways that you can re-purpose tea leaves. Enjoy!

Bath/bath bomb additiveIf you make bath bombs (like I do), you can add some dry tea leaves to your recipe before you put the mixture into molds. It adds a little additional fragrance and beauty to your bath bombs. If you don’t make bath bombs, you can always just add the leaves directly to your bath. Certain teas, like mint and lemon balm, have invigorating scents and can be a refreshing addition to your bath. These teas can also be mixed with epsom salt for an especially relaxing soak.

Herbal facial steam – Similar to baths, you can use tea to make an herbal facial steam. Some teas (like rose and lavender) are known for their relaxing and beautifying properties. Do a little research on your tea and see if the ingredients are suitable for a face steam. Keep in mind, simple black, green or white teas (without added herbs or florals) are perfectly fine for most skin types. Of course, always proceed with caution, even when using “safe” teas.

Face tonic – Just like herbal facial steams, you can steep the tea in hot water then use it as a toner. Camellia sinensis (the scientific name for tea) is generally considered an astringent natural product. The tannins in it constricts body tissue, making it perfect for pore-tightening and giving the face a very toned appearance. The higher the amount of tannins (generally, these are more numerous in cheaper teas), the more astringent the tea will be. Try using a full strength tea tonic on your skin, then, if you find it is too strong, add water to reduce the potency.

Oil infusion – This is actually my favorite way to use teas that I don’t want to drink. Infusing tea into oil can create a luxurious natural product that can either be applied to the skin, the hair, or added to vinegar or another acidic item (like lemon juice) to make dressing. Infusions are simple: add herbs to as many ounces of oil that you want, let it sit in a dark (preferably cool) area for at least four weeks, and shake the mixture occasionally. Personally, I love adding inexpensive chamomile tea and other herbs to coconut or olive oil, then letting them infuse over a month or two. Once these are infused, I strain the oil, put it in a lovely bottle, then apply it to my hair and skin.

Hair rinse – Certain teas are great for rinsing the hair. You brew the tea as normal, then pour the cooled tea onto the hair after shampooing and conditioning. Chamomile is great for lighter colored hair, while sage is fantastic for dark hair. Also, teas that contain rosemary and lavender can be beneficial for dry, itchy scalp, so keep that in mind. You can also just add dried rosemary and/or lavender to the tea that you’re brewing, then you get the added benefit of those herbs for scalp health.

These are some of my favorite ways to use teas that aren’t so tasty. Do you have any recommendations for re-purposing tea leaves? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

food · life curation · luxury

Learn About Tea – For Free!

On Facebook, I recently saw an ad from The Republic of Tea, offering a free email course about tea. Tea 101: An Educational Email Series promised to deliver, over a 6 day period, information about the “nuances and complexities of premium tea”.

I’m a sucker for nuance and complexity, so I happily dove into the emails as they arrived.

Mustard and Olive Chic Lifestyle Blogger Blog Post Social Media Graphics

The lessons cover the different aspects of distinguishing between and enjoying tea. The lessons are brief and to the point, so they are perfect for busy people.

I especially enjoyed the emphasis on the fact that herbal teas aren’t true “teas” (the only true “tea” is the leaf of the camellia sinensis plant). However, the company still took time to explain the benefits of herbal “teas” and blends. I also liked the description that Republic of Tea provided, regarding the caffeine levels in varying tea varieties. It was good to see which teas provide light, medium and heavy caffeine.