Herbalists talk about developing a relationship with the plants they use. Relationship is a lovely way to describe how we gather information and get to know herbs, as it really is a lot like getting to know a new friend. One of the keys to unlocking the real magic within the plant world includes learning to truly see and respect the individuals of that world. There’s no better way to begin that with a good cup of tea.
Why Is Having Herbal Tea a Good Idea?
When you set your intention well, a cup of tea with your favorite herb can deepen your relationship with that plant considerably. If you’re just beginning to work with that herb, taking the time to for tea together is a lot like having a cup fo tea with a new friend; it opens the door to new connections you might not otherwise have made. In any case, making a little space for your imagination to play, your energy to explore, your mind to step back, and your body to relax is good medicine in itself. When you invite The Plants to share in the experience, you invite their healing into all aspects of you. That deepens the medicine, often in unexpected and truly wondrous ways.
Get to the Know Your Herb
When we talk about having tea with The Plants, we’re actually talking about having tea with a single plant at a time. Working with a single plant at a time is a traditional approach to getting to know the properties and effects of that plant. It gives you space to recognize how the plant’s medicine shifts your own body and life, even if you are not suffering from any specific conditions for which that plant is generally used. In other words, you don’t have to have cancer to recognize the cleansing and healing elements of Red Clover and understand how those qualities might ease the suffering of someone who does have cancer.
Recognizing the energy and affect each herb has is an integral part of being a good herbalist. Part of that may include a deeper study of the plant, including a lot of chemistry or traditional uses or similar studies, but that knowledge cannot replace first-hand experience. Clinical herbalists and home herbalists alike need to understand the energies of the plant’s medicine through their own experience if they want to make wise choices when the medicine is needed. Getting to know each plant you work with by sharing tea is a truly magical experience. Why not give it a try?
Isn’t Sharing Tea with a Plant a Bunch of Woo-Woo Magical Nonsense?
The practice of sharing tea with The Plants can be a witchy, magical, weirdness sort of experience if you desire, but it doesn’t have to be. You can deepen your understanding of how an herb works by experiencing it first-hand. You don’t need to light incense, chant, or enter into the mystical realms to get it. It’s all about how you approach the plant. With the right mindset, you’ll make a magical experience for yourself, gain a deeper understanding of the plant, and you’ll recognize the moments when that particular plant is best going to help with the situation before you more easily.
It’s all about Mindset
Making time to experience The Plant through a simple herbal infusion can give you insight into how that plant can be a partner in health for you and yours. As you approach your tea experience, it helps to be humble and respectful.
Envision The Plant as a sentient being with knowledge that can help you. It doesn’t matter if you’re really after a better scientific understanding of the biochemical reactions the plant will cause in the human organism or if you’re really all about recognizing the mystical realms to which the plant might transport you. Your own approach to living in the world is secondary, really. It’s partly about making a connection with the plant but mostly it’s about engaging your imagination so that you can open the pathways in your mind that allow you to make new connections. Approaching the plant as a teacher and a being worthy of your respect helps your mind to step back and allow your imagination to show you want you might not otherwise have seen.
It’s also about respecting yourself enough to focus and brush aside all the potential distractions and interruptions that could prevent you from making the most of your tea experience. When you play with the idea that the plant is a sentient being, a teacher whom you respect and want to learn from, it’s a whole lot easier to ignore the phone, the family, the bills, and anything else that might have lured your attention away from the moments you have to spend engaged in the experience.
How to Share Tea with The Plants
Start off by choosing just one plant to work with at a time. That’ll help you focus, just like having tea with just one friends lets you focus entirely on that friend. When you share tea with many friends, it’s hard to hear thoroughly from all of them, and so it is with herbal tea blends, too.
Once you’ve chosen the plant you’d like to work with, get your hands on some of it in dried, cut-and-sift form. That means dried herb that has not been mixed with anything else and preferably not powdered. Powdered herbs are hard to strain and generally not well suited for infusing into tea, although if that’s all you have you can most certainly go for it.
Get yourself a good kettle, electric or stove-top styles work equally well, and filtered water. I suggest filtered water mainly because unfiltered water generally contributes flavors, textures, and sometimes affects that pure water will not. Your home tap water, for instance, may make terrific herbal medicine when needed and be absolutely okay for general daily use, but when your intention is to deepen your relationship with the plant you’ll want to eliminate any distractions. Unfiltered water contains a lot of distractions in most situations.
Gather a notebook and pen if you want to take notes, a teapot or mug you like, a tea strainer, and any other implements you desire for brewing a nice pot of tea. If you want a good rundown on how to make a good herbal infusion, read This Article before you begin. If you’re already familiar with the basics of making good infusions, you’re ready to begin.
Good Herbs for Tea
If you’ve got an herb you’ve been studying, that’s probably your best choice for a good tea partner. If not, here are my five favorites for getting started:
Now that you’ve got all the ingredients and equipment you’ll need, it’s time to make some tea! Remember, the key here is to set a clear intention and to hold that intention as you work with the plant.
- Assemble your ingredients and tools.
- Clear your mind and set your intention. You can do this however it works for you. I suggest taking a deep breath and clearing my mind of everything except the task at hand. I frame my intention around better understanding the plant I’m working with or around deepening my relationship with the plant through experience and I ask myself and especially my mind to let that happen.
- Set the kettle to boil.
- Prepare the tea pot or mug by adding the herb. It doesn’t matter if you make the infusion medicinally-strong or quite weak, although I generally advise a medium-strength infusion. Folks who are quite sensitive may want to work with a weaker infusion so as not to be overwhelmed by the experience while folks who are less sensitive may want to work with a very strong infusion so as not to miss or overlook any affects.
- When the kettle has come to a boil, pour the water over your herb, cover it, and let it steep for about 10 minutes. Longer is fine, but don’t cut it much shorter. Often, I take the time to hold the remaining bag of dried herb, examining the dried plant material, smelling it and noticing all I can about it.
- Once you’re ready, pour your cup of tea. As you pour, notice the color, smell, and general feeling you get from the tea.
- Sit back or relax with the cup in your hands. At this point, I often find my mind wanting to get involved by rattling off a bunch of facts I may have read or heard about this particular plant. I let it go a moment, then I ask her to step aside so we can all get our turn. Imagining my mind as a separate individual helps me to quiet all those thoughts so I can be fully present with my tea. With my mind quiet, I imagine myself saying hello to The Plant. I invite The Plant to join me and inviting myself to be more open than usual to the medicine of the plant.
- Before you take your first sip, give yourself a moment to breathe in the scent of the tea. Notice how where in your body you feel it. Does your stomach relax? Or maybe you notice the tension ease out of your shoulders? Or are you noticing warmth in your toes or maybe a fluttering in your chest? Does it make you feel giddy? Sad? Powerful?
- When you’re ready, take a sip of the tea. It helps to close your eyes so you can fully focus on the flavor as you do so. Notice how the tea tastes. Is it sharp? Astringent? Tingly? Sweet? How does the flavor change as you swish it in your mouth? How about once you’ve swallowed?
- Continue to slowly sip the tea and taking time to notice how it affects as many aspects of your being as you can. How and where does it affect your body? Do you notice any energetic shifts or emotions arising? How does it move your mind or thoughts?
- Give yourself a good five minutes or more with the tea before you begin to take notes. The act of writing accesses different pathways in the brain and nervous system than the act of experiencing and noticing. Writing can take you out of the present quickly, and it’s in the present moment where you’ll find the most rewarding experience with The Plant.
Herbs and Techniques to Try
- Herbal Infusions: How to Make and Master this Herbal Home Remedy
- Chamomile Energetics
- Yarrow for Emotional Healing
- Magickal Use of Wood Betony
- Nettle Chemistry by Sue Sierralupe
- Sage: Pocket Herbal by Sue Sierralupe