I enjoy coffee, don’t get me wrong. I like it black and strong – not French Roast, not that kind of strong. I like the coffee we make in our stainless steel percolator on top of the gas stove. Sometimes we forget about it and it perks a bit more than the recommended 4 minutes. Man does that get strong! Yes, I do enjoy that hot steaming cup of bitter beauty in the morning.
I LOVE my tea. Er, Tisane. Well, I love tea, too. You may or may not know that technically “Tea” is ONLY the beverage made from the plant Camillia sinensis. The beverage we steep using other herbs, flowers, leaves, etc are technically called “Tisane”. Blah, blah, blah…..I’m calling them all TEA.
In the spring and summer I am outside as much as possible, hiking, walking, meandering and……harvesting. I harvest all manner of wildy food things – fiddleheads, mushrooms, wild leeks, berries, nuts, and roots. I greatly enjoy eating ‘weeds’ out of my garden. My most favorite things to harvest, however, are the plants that will gift me with Tea. There are so many of them – Nettle, Plantain, Mullein, Monarda, Yarrow, Elderflower, Linden flower, and so many more. Most of these plants can be eaten, too, and I do prepare them into yummy supper fare.
But nothing beats a Nice Cup of Tea.
Making Tea is a craft with many facets. Firstly, there is deciding which of our herby friends will go into the teapot. This task, in and of itself, is the bread-and-butter of all of the major tea companies whose names are in your cupboard (and mine) right now. Making a tea blend is part science, part art, and a lot of What the Heck, Let’s just Try this and See How it Tastes. Sometimes it’s outrageously good. Sometimes it gets composted. (Note to self: go easy on the dried, unroasted Dandelion root).
My favorite go-to right now is a mix of Goldenrod flowers and leaves with a bit of mint. It has a nice green tea-like mouthfeel, and the mint gives it just a hint of sweetness. I drink it because it tastes good, and receive a bonus of health benefits besides. The goldenrod helps tone down allergies, and the mint helps digestion. But mostly, it just tastes good.
Next, there is the ritual of heating the water, pouring it into the teapot, picking the perfect mug, pouring the tea, inhaling its steamy scent, and settling down on a comfy chair to savor it. This ritual feels soothing to me, like the stories I read over and over to my babies….it is familiar and comforting.
There is nourishment and healing in this cup of Tea. I may have chosen plants that have particular qualities – Mullein for congestion, Wild Mint for a calm tummy – and I know there are uncountable other qualities in these plants that will feed my body as well.
Lastly, there is Mystery in this cup. Did I choose these plants, or did they choose me? Did they call me in some curious way, wanting to be noticed and loved, wanting to be of service? I like to think so.