Tag Archives: tea

Herbal Allies // Ginger, Licorice and Chamomile Tea

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I’ve spent the last three early mornings lingering over the breakfast table, laptop, morning books, and empty porridge bowl all pushed aside. Just me in the early morning stillness facing east towards the bright sun shining into my eyes, a big smile on my face. William came in this morning and asked me what I was doing. Chameleon-ing, I told him. I’ve been soaking up as much of the early morning sun and warmth as I can.

We’ve finally been getting a good stretch of sun and warm days here and it feels just about right as May is the best month, to my way of thinking. Given I’ll be making my way into a new decade in a few days, I’ve been figuring a good way to begin my birthday week celebrations is by starting each day basking in the sun with a mug of tea. It feels like the best sort of end of a decade indulgence.

 

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The other thing I’ve been doing lately is drinking this ginger, licorice, and chamomile tea. It is usually my evening/after dinner drink of choice as the licorice root is naturally sweet, chamomile is soothing, and ginger is warm and zesty.

In my herbal class last term, we experimented with different methods of making herbal tea. Certain herbs, like flowers or leaves, are better prepared by infusing them in freshly boiled water, as I’ve done here. Others, like roots, will have more of their beneficial constituents released by decocting them in gently simmering water for 15-30 minutes. The thing we learned though, is that though medicinally speaking, some methods of extracting might be better, either way will be fine depending on preference. It is something like the people that pour warm water into a mug and then dunk their tea bag in. When I’m offered tea prepared in this way, I often cringe and hesitantly accept, because it’s not the way I prefer my tea (i.e. strong, long-infused, and exceptionally hot, especially if it’s black/Irish tea). But I understand we all have our personal tastes and what might be ‘wrong’ in the recommended way of things may be just what a person needs.

So going against the grain here, I’ve found that I actually enjoy licorice and dried ginger root prepared in the easy infusion method of pouring boiling hot tea over and letting sit for 10-15 minutes, rather than simmering away on the stove. Luckily for me, the chamomile prefers this method too.

 

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I’ve chosen these specific three herbs because they particularly spoke to me to be infused together, but after thinking about their medicinal actions, I came to a good conclusion why:

Ginger // Common fresh or dried ginger is probably my most often used herb/spice, right after cinnamon. It is good in this tea as it is gently warming and pungent, and balances the sweet flavor of the licorice and slightly bitter properties of the chamomile. Freshly grated ginger root can also be used here. Ginger is exceptionally beneficial in controlling inflammation and muscular pain, increases circulation, and also aids in digestion.

Licorice Root // Despite the connotation with licorice candy, licorice root does not taste anything like the red or black ropes I loved to eat as a child. Licorice is an excellent herb for balancing the adrenals, balancing blood sugar, and helping decrease stress and inflammation. It is also soothing to the mucous membranes and GI tract, and makes for a good addition to an evening tea when we are winding down and might be craving extra sweets. Note: licorice should not be taken by those with high blood pressure. 

Chamomile // Chamomile  is an indispensable herb for evenings for so many reasons. Well known as a gentle, calming tea, these delicate yellow flowers help relieve irritability, stress, anxiety, insomnia, upset stomach, and much more.

 

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Ginger, Licorice, and Chamomile Tea, makes 1 12-ounce mug
Dried herbs are best purchased in small quantities in bulk from a natural foods store, if you have access. Alternatively, an excellent place to source them online is from Mountain Rose Herbs.

1 Tbs. dried chamomile flowers
1 tsp. dried licorice root
1/2 tsp. dried ginger root

  • Add herbs to a tea ball or basket and then set in a mug or tea pot. Pour 12 ounces freshly boiled water over the herbs, cover or cap the mug or pot, and then allow to infuse for at least 10 minutes and up to four hours. Drink warm or cold.

 


White Tea + Rhubarb Cake

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Last week, I celebrated a birthday. It was a very ordinary sort of day with no particular fanfare, leftovers for dinner, and Will at a school event for the evening.  So I enjoyed the evening after work in the garden, planting seeds. And then I made cake.

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On your birthday, you are supposed to feel special, or at least that’s what our society tells us–and though the day was particularly ordinary, I felt truly blessed and happy from its beginning to end.

Normally, in past years when my birthday didn’t include a big gathering over dinner and cake, I’d feel just a teensy bit like I was missing out on an annual rite. This year something changed, and I felt simply grateful for so very many friends who care and who show it in small ways, regularly. From the kind encouragements, to the brief check-ins and the funny moments where we laugh uncontrollably. Those things, those people, I am grateful for having in my life.

Though the hornblowers, smoke, and light show were left for perhaps another year and turning 27 isn’t exactly an exciting number, I am so joy-filled, so blessed to have gotten to celebrate another one.

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Now for cake. I’ve been bent on a rhubarb obsession this past several months, and since it’s spring and rhubarb is at the peak of its season, I’m going to eat it up while it is available! This is White Tea & Rhubarb Cake.  I made a simple rhubarb sauce, then strained it through a sieve and infused just the juice into a loose-leaf white tea. The tea and rhubarb mixture serve as the liquid for this cake. The flavor is very light, very subtle, and quite good. If you’re big on frosting, go ahead and make it–the beautiful pastel pink comes from the rhubarb, not food dye! If you would prefer the white tea and lovely rhubarb flavors to shine through and aren’t big on super sweet, go ahead and foreg0 the frosting. It’s quite nice to eat it simply–and the Rhubarb-Infused White Tea is a treat all on its own!

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White Tea + Rhubarb Cake, makes one 6-inch cake
1 3/4 cups Sarah’s gluten free flour blend
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup rhubarb-infused white tea 
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup canola oil
1 Tbs. pure vanilla extract
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 6-inch cake pans with parchment paper. Mix together flour blend, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, pour in the rhubarb + tea mixture. Add the sugar, honey, oil, and vanilla extract. Slowly whisk in the flour mixture. Beat for one minute or until the batter becomes smooth and starts to thicken.
  • Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes, rotating half way through. Insert a toothpick into the center if you are uncertain if its done. The toothpick will come out clean.
  • Place on cooling rack, and remove from pans after about 10 minutes. Cool completely before frosting or serving.
Rhubarb-Infused White Tea
3-4 rhubarb stalks, chopped
water
1 Tbs. Loose-leaf white tea, such as Silver Rain
  • Make a rhubarb sauce by simmering rhubarb stalks and a small amount of water (less than 1/4 inch to the bottom of a small saucepan) until the rhubarb has turned into a puree.  With a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth, strain the rhubarb sauce, reserving the bulk of the mixture for another use.
  • Meanwhile, bring water almonst to boiling, and with the tea in an infuser, steep a good 3/4 cup of white tea for a lengthy period of time, until it is strong. Keep in mind that white tea will not get too strong like black tea. The flavor is subtle. Add the rhubarb sauce liquid to the steeped tea until you have 1 1/4 cups.  Measure out 1 cup for the cake, and reserve 1/4 cup for the frosting.
 Tea + Rhubarb Vegan Frosting
1/2 cup vegan butter, such as Earth Balance
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup rhubarb-infused white tea 
  • To make frosting, whip together all of the ingredients, adding a touch more rhubarb liquid for color and moisture, as needed.


Oatie-Date Tea Cookies

I’ve admitted it before.  I have a weakness for sweets.  For the past two weeks, however, I’ve given up refined sugars, among other things, in the Whole Living 28 Day Challenge.  I honestly feel, though I know it will be challenging to permanently slash refined sugars from my diet, that I feel better without them.  For the past week I have been gradually adding ingredients back in, watching carefully, noticing the changes I feel as I add.  Now I am ready to add in baked goods, even if they are slightly more virtuous than usual.

Enter Oatie-Date Tea Cookies.  I was wary of this recipe from the get-go.  It’s refined-sugar-free and has no oil, butter, margarine, etc. In a nutshell, it’s wholesome.  While this is exactly what I was looking for, I’ve not great experience with virtuous cookies.  They just don’t turn out.  These however, were a prize in the making.  They received my resident cookie critique’s seal of approval.  And while they’re not as sweet or fluffy as your usual cookie, they go perfectly with a great cup of steaming tea.

Oatie-Date Tea Cookies, adapted from the Bob’s Red Mill Baking Book
2 1/2 cups quick cooking rolled oats
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup chopped dried dates
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, salt, and baking powder.
  • In another bowl, beat together the eggs and syrup, along with the vanilla.  Stir in the dates.  Add to the dry ingredients and blend well.
  • Drop the batter by teaspoons onto the prepared sheet and bake for about 10 minutes.  Smash cookies down with a spatula approximately two minutes before they are done.

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