I realised a couple of weeks ago that I turned into my parents. Thankfully in my case this isn’t necessarily a bad thing but still, it’s very surprising. This realisation occurred to me when I started making some Comfrey infused oil. My parents are always concocting some natural remedy or other, juicing, making tinctures, harvesting leaves for herbal teas… They also have vineyards and keep bees. In fact I still recall, with some horror I might add, the onion and honey tea that I was given for a cough as a child. I can’t remember if it eased the cough but I very clearly remember it tasting disgusting. I should probably add that I love onions and cook with them almost daily and I also love honey, especially as it comes from my parents’s bees but together this two ingredients are not for the faint hearted.
I have always had an interest in herbalism because of my upbringing and even remember taking part in a regional competition at school where you had to recognise plants, know their latin names and some main uses. I can still recall some of the latin names!
This interest has been rekindled recently or maybe it came on gradually as a need to know more about the plants I use for dyeing, I’m not entirely sure. When I closed Eaden Yarns, my main intention for whatever was to follow was that it should be guided by more thoughtful, more responsible (ethical and environmental) choices. Switching from synthetic to natural dyes, paying more attention to where my materials come from and even switching to different packaging materials, like switching to biodegradable plastic mailing bags. This new-found interest in herbs made me recently rethink my choices about tea. We drink a lot of herbal tea here. My husband’s favourite is peppermint tea and chai. I don’t have a favourite as such and tend to try a lot of new things. The ones I buy are usually the Pukka and Heath & Heather brand. They are excellent quality, Fairtrade and organic. My only problem is the packaging. Every tea bag individually wrapped… Yes, paper can be recycled but still, it seems like a lot of waste. These thoughts and the interest in herbs led me to the decision to switch to loose leaf tea. Less packaging and well, you do get more for your money as well. With this in mind, I will be attempting to blend my own herbal teas and share they (succesful) recipes with you all.
In ideal world, I would like to grow all my herbs myself and forage some but I live right in the middle of a city in an apartment with no outdoor space. We are always trying to grow things on the windowsill, we have pots of mint, basil, strawberry and my bedroom windowsill is packed with succulents, including an aloe vera plant. In fact, in ideal world I would like to grow all our food and live on a farm and not right in the middle of the city but that’s a story for a whole other blog post, so for now, back to tea.
I ordered a batch of herbs from a UK company, Starchild. They stock a big range of organic herbs. I got Elderflower, Elderberries, Comfrey, a big bag of Nettle, Marigold, Red Clover, Oat Straw, Ginkgo Biloba and Lemon balm. The first thing I mixed up was The Cleansing and Nourishing Tea from Handmade Apothecary‘s beautiful new book. There are a lot of recipes I would like to try from this book. I have also started a Comfrey infused oil to make a salve for bruises for my little boy.
I have since tried this Cleansing and Nourishing tea as a cold brew as well and I think I like it even more. My main reason for trying it is that it’s meant to help with premenstrual breast pain which I suffer with very badly every month. For at least one week every month, I cannot even wear my normal bras but have to wear a sports bra. I will let you know in a couple of months if this tea has made a difference.
This post is a bit of an introduction to what is hopefully to follow. I am setting myself a challenge to learn more about plants, from identification to their healing as well as dye properties. I am going to focus on one plant a month and try to learn about it as much as I can and share what I have learnt. Now, we all know my blogging track record is terrible but I would really like to keep this up. Instagram used to be my main social media outlet but in the last year or so, that has gone completely downhill and I need to get away from it for my own sanity’s sake. The time I spend just mindlessly scrolling through every day, without reading or even looking at photos properly is ridiculous. I fully intend to use this time to learn instead. This is not to say I will be completely staying away from IG, just being more mindful about the time I spend on it.
Pictured here you see an excellent Slovakian book titled Liecive Rastiliny, which translates to Medicinal Plants. My parents bought it for me last summer. I would love to add to my book collection on this subject so if you have favourites to recommend, please leave me a comment.
The plant I will be focusing on this month is Peppermint. I thought it will be a good start as I use it a lot and I have managed to successfully grow it on the windowsill for a couple of years now. Look out for the next post on that subject. Thank you for reading my ramblings!