I’m at a cottage in North Carolina, staring at a pond with lily pads in the cool mountain air, with a cup of hot tea in hand. Breathing in clean and crisp air in 70-degree weather is a wonderful respite from Florida’s hot and humid summer. This is tea weather and I am delighted in the most profound way.
My tween daughter has been out picking wild blackberries and wineberries from the acres and acres of lush green hills. The berries rarely make it back to the cottage as she eats them instantly, reminding me of her younger days. We have been home on quarantine for a million years and are blossoming up here on this mountain. The colors are brighter than I remember. The breeze transports me to a calm that I forgot existed.
Connecting with nature is a pastime that has always soothed us. We visit my best friend on her farm a couple of times a year. She is a Master Herbalist and knows every plant and herb around her vast land. She has honey bees and the best honey I have ever tasted. It is a rich amber color and can’t compare to the store-bought honey that I substitute when I run out of her liquid gold. I add it to my hot and cold tea back home. You, Me, and Uni teas come alive with a touch of honey.
We will go herb picking this afternoon. Just up the hill from our cottage is a lovely garden full of thyme, sage, mint, basil, rosemary, comfrey, nettles, and lemongrass. I add them to our salads and in tea. We will dry rosemary and comfrey to take home. I add comfrey to the bath for mosquito bites and itchy skin. Rosemary is a wonderful herb to hang in the kitchen, tying bundles together in colorful yarn. My friend makes nettle soup with homemade bone broth, carrots, onions, and sausage from a local farm.
I gave my friend a basket of teas as a thank you. I included You, Me, and Uni tea to share with her guests. I bought tiny zip lock bags for individual portions to add to the lovely tea cart she leaves on the kitchen table for guests. Meditative State of Mind will help to relax the mind and body after a long day of hiking trails. The blend of mint, chamomile, lavender, and moringa is light and flavorful. Make it as strong as you like for more medicinal benefits. Or steep for 5 minutes for a pleasant and light tea that is perfect chilled in the summertime. I make it in the mornings with honey, steep for 5-10 minutes, and strain into a mason jar and pop it into the fridge. It’s so delightful in the afternoon when I want to recharge, as well as in the evenings to unwind.
You, Me, and Uni teas are hand-crafted by Master Herbalist, Jennifer Vollbrecht. Read about her here.
There are several types of mint on her property. Since we are social distancing, I am figuring out some of the species on my own, while she is out in the barn milking her goats. I called on my friend, Google, and discovered a map of mints. I can see photos of the lighter shade of green for apple mint and the dark green leaves of chocolate mint. This excites me as I believe she has chocolate mint! Breaking a piece to discover the fragrance, fills my senses with an earthy chocolate minty scent. Adding some to my basket, I refer back to the photos of mint.
Mojito mint and English mint look just as similar as Moroccan mint, with their elongated rounded edges. Orange mint has a very distinct color and shape and I hope to find it here in my garden discovery, as it sounds delicious and I would like to add it to tea. So far, I have found chocolate mint and one that I would call basic mint. I’ll wait for my Herbalist friend to identify it for me after goat chores are complete.
Before we left for our North Carolina trip, my mother had an upset stomach. She is staying with us in our Florida home for a month while she waits on her new house to close. I made her a strong cup of Know Your Gut, Trust Your Gut tea. She is a lover of tea as well, abandoning her coffee addiction years ago. With her feet up on the couch, I brought her a hot cup of this blend of cornflower petal, comfrey leaf, dandelion, and red clover blossom. She sipped on it while doing a crossword puzzle. An hour later, I found her asleep with an empty teacup beside her. It seems like it relaxed more than just her digestive system.
The art of tea is a ritual that I honor to stimulate my mind when writing, to relax my body when stressed, and to heal me when sick. There are so many teas that I enjoy. Some for different times of the day and some during different seasons. I have my favorites and I love trying new ones. When someone tells me of a favorite tea they have, I get excited about it too and must try it out. When I am gifted tea, I am like a little kid on my birthday. It’s one of the best presents I can receive. Order Know Your Gut, Trust Your Gut tea here. Order Meditative State of Mind tea here.
I’m distracted by a turtle swimming slowly in the pond in front of me. He weaves in and out of the lily pads and I am envious of their peaceful life. It’s time to go inside and refill my cup of tea. I’ll take my tea around the property as I take pictures of the beautiful scenes around me to share with you.
Anastacia Elizabeth Walden
Freelance writer and editor at Walden Writes For Women, in Gainesville, Florida