Saturday, March 26, 2011


Near Penzance, Cornwall Trevaylor Woods

That's when she found the tree,   
the dark, crabbed branches   
bearing up such speechless bounty,   
she knew without being told   
this was forbidden. It wasn't   
a question of ownership—   
who could lay claim to   
such maddening perfection?   

~Excerpt from~"I have been a stranger in a strange land"

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Too late for the Blog Party: Herbal Hugs

(This was supposed to be part of an Herbal Blog Party two months back at Whispering Earth, but as seems to be my pace, I was too late and so abandoned my article.)

Herbal Hugs.   I need those daily it seems.  Right now as I post, my upstairs neighbor is angrily stomping around, which she does incessantly.  Sometimes I want to run out of the apartment!  Perhaps she needs an herbal hug herself.

There are so many types of hugs aren't there?  There are the friendly ones that we give to each other when run into each other on the street.  There are the deep, full embrace hugs that we give and receive when our hearts are aching.  There are the safe and reassuring hugs which are like warm hearth fire on an icy day.  These are the kind that say "ah, my dear all will be well, but in the meantime here, come have a cup of tea with me and tell me all your worries."   Hug therapy.  Herbal therapy. They go hand in hand.  I watched a documentary on  Mother Theresa the other day, and in it she said  'The worst disease today is not leprosy; it is being unwanted, being left out, being forgotten."  Feeling unwanted is to truly feel alone.  How healing is a meaningful hug.

I have several herbal hugs that I go to when in need, or prepare for others in need of them.  Many of these blends contain oatstraw or milky oats.  These two herbs soothe right through our nerves, into the spinal cord, and all the way into our very marrow, reviving our essence.  The spring green of an oatstraw blend is healing in and of itself.  Color therapy.

However, my all time favorite go-to herbal hug is Kukicha tea with warmed milk and buckwheat honey.

For this brew to be truly nourishing to the weary, afraid or frazzled spirit all three elements really need to be there.  The milk absolutely must be warmed or the beverage looses it's soothing creaminess and gets a little too airy, and any honey other than buckwheat is too sweet.  Buckwheat honey has a bit of a taste to it, sort of reminiscent of minerals, and it's really dark in color.

Kukicha tea was at one time (and still is in Japan) considered the poor persons tea, or was the tea drunk by the peasants and farmers.  It is made with the aged, sun-dried twigs (or sometimes stalks) of the Camellia sinensis plant.  The twigs have much less caffeine than the leaves and because they are the stems, lend us their strength, giving us a little inner shoring up when needed.  I find it much more grounding than other tea (by this I am referring to Camellia sinensis.)

I recall one time when my son was attending a 5 day/half-day nursery school.  I'd collect him at noon, myself rather frazzled from a morning in a separate Waldorf Nursery class, and he'd be wired from exhaustion and sensory overload. (Yes, even in  rhythmic Waldorf school the sheer number of children can overload a child's senses.)     I recall one day, I gathered him up and he was nearly in tears, I  wrestled (yes, wrestled) him into his car seat and handed him my pre-prepared mini thermos of this magic brew.  Relief flooded over him as he took the first gulp.

My husband and I drink a mug of this after dinner each evening once our son has gone to bed.  It is so soothing and the warm milk adds to the relaxing deliciousness of it.  It goes just as well with little cookies as it does sandwiches!  And a thermos of this pulled out of a backpack on a chilly day's walk has no compare in my opinion.   Next I'll share my recipe for crispy thin sesame crackle, or brickle depending on where you are from.  It goes delectably with that!

Prepare the tea with hot water, but not boiling, and allow to steep for three minutes.  For children I suggest a tea to milk ratio of 1/4 tea steeped lightly, and 3/4 warmed milk. For adults this is probably too milky.  I do a smallish mug filled 3/4 way with twigs and then filled the rest of the way with the milk.  Sweeten with buckwheat honey to taste.  I've enjoyed the bags (Haiku or Eden brands) or the loose (I like Mountain Rose Herb's).

I do hope you'll give it a try.  Truly all the people I've given this to are all kukicha junkies now.