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And don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It's quiet, but the roots are down there riotous.  - Rumi


Snow keeps us wrapped in a cocoon of white here in New England. Grey skies, snow flakes and sleet keep falling. Snow piles are so high that many bushes and shrubs are invisible. Pine cones dangle from the tops of evergreens. A bit of brown grey of barks and the winter green of evergreens give us a spot of color. However, around here bluebirds alight from time to time. A wonderful bit of color that perks up a branch, gives our eyes and senses delight. I learned that they do show up here in New England in the winter to have their babies and then are gone.

Roots. Many tea blends contain roots of plants. They usually need a bit longer to steep but add their own flavor and nutrients. Some, like dandelion root, are delicious roasted and make a coffee like beverage to enjoy first thing in the morning. Dandelion root supports and tones the gall bladder and liver systems. Echinacea root is another addition to a tea blend. Echinacea sps have scientific research to back up the claim that it can boost certain immune system markers. Perhaps one of my favorite roots to add to a blend is marshmallow root. This plant adds a mucilaginous quality and sweetness to taste that soothes mucus membranes. I add it to soothe digestion especially after holiday type meals.

Three suggestions: dandelion root, echinacea root and/ or marshmallow root can easily be added to peppermint, spearmint, chamomile flowers, even organic rose petals or orange peels to create a tasty, nourishing tea blend. You do not need much. While herb books suggest 1 teaspoon dried plant/cup I find that varies when I make a blend. Some roots are quite bitter. Personal taste is a factor in creating blends. Supermarket rows of tea blends attest to this fact. Experiment. If a blend is not to your liking add something else or add it to the compost pile and begin again. Tea blending is an art and a science.

Do you have jars of dried and stored plants maybe some you have even forgotten about? Want to make your own tea bags? This can be a great winter activity when snowed in. Sometimes I forget the plants sitting in the back of my cupboard. Getting my supplies out, filling tea bags with blends gives me an easy way to consume teas for the remainder of the winter and spring before new growth occurs once again. Using fusible paper tea bags:

1. Pull out the jars, get a clean towel to place on ironing board.

2. Place a flat dish to catch the spills.

3. Take a measured teaspoon, fill tea bags (I use fusible paper tea bags) with plants.

4. When several tea bags are filled, then seal the edge (fusible tea bags )with the iron. 

Also I have heard that conventional tea company tea bags contain a potentially harmful ingredient. Here’s what Golden Moon Tea company reports:

“If you have ever gotten a piece of paper wet, you know that it tends to fall apart easily. The solution that companies created was to treat the paper with something to make it stronger. The chemical of choice for this treatment was Epichlorohydrin. Epichlorohydrin is a dangerous little bugger. According to Dow Chemical (who is the largest producer of this substance):

Epichlorohydrin has been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals. In the U.S.A. it is considered to be a potential carcinogen for purposes of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) hazard communication standard, 29 CFR 1910.1200.

If you look at the European Statement from Dow Chemical:

“The substance should be regarded as if it is carcinogenic to man. There is sufficient evidence to provide a strong presumption that human exposure to the substance may result in the development of cancer.”

Want to make your own bags this winter? Here’s a great site that shows you how to do just that. I prefer to use fusible paper bags that I purchase from my local mail order herb vendor, Useful Weeds.

These are usually dye and chemical free.

Do you have a favorite tea blend? I would like to hear from you and we can pass it on.

Snow has stopped for today but more is coming. My tea bags are ready to steep and a few good books are on hand. How about you?

Enjoy. Judith


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