Nettles and Rose Herbal Tea

Today I’m sharing a tea formula that’s lovely, sweet, floral, and cooling. Perfect for early and mid-summer, when nettles and roses are growing wild, and we need a cooling “tonic” to drink.

Nettles are one of the nine sacred plants in old Wessex, a kingdom in the south of Great Britain from around 500-900 AD. They were used earlier by the Greeks in at least the first century as a medicinal plant. And they’re just as revered today as a tonic herb in Western Medicine.

Nettles are extremely rich in nutrients including calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, silica, zinc, selenium and chromium and are useful for nourishing the blood and adrenals, and supporting the liver in detoxification. 

Nettles are most commonly used as a general tonic when you’re overworked, chronically tired, and needing nutrients. Nettles are incredibly nutrient rich–so much so, you can taste it, especially when they’re used fresh. Many people use strong nettle infusions for calcium and the other nutrients they contain, as an alternative to taking supplements. If you also start to drink nettles daily for some time, your hair, nails and skin will start to have a healthy glow!

I don’t usually take nettles in high dose amounts, but it’s rare for a day to go by without having at least one cup of tea that doesn’t contain 20 percent or more of nettle leaves.

Energetically, nettles are cooling and drying. Those two components translate to being slightly bitter and astringent in taste. Personally, I like to balance these two flavors in a formula with a touch of sweet from licorice.

Like nettles, roses also have an incredibly long history of use, both as a nutritive food, medicine, and in skin / beauty care. Rose petals have a particular affinity for healing the skin, whether it’s acne, scars, varicose veins or capillary damage, eczema, and more. They are anti-inflammatory and also like nettles, can be used daily as a tonic herb. Rose is also a nervine tonic, meaning it’s supportive of the nervous system!

Energetically, rose petals are cooling and moistening. The flavor, beyond just “floral,” is slightly bitter, sweet, and astringent. In Ayurvedic medicine, roses are often recommended for consumption during the hot summer months, and for overheated Pitta constitutions, a feature of their being cooling and moistening during the time of year when both we and the season are typically hot and dry.

Licorice root is one of my favorite and most used herbs. The flavor is not anise and licorice-candy. Rather, it’s extremely sweet and slightly bitter. Licorice is an extremely important herb in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), where it tonifies the spleen and Qi, and also clears internal heat. It is particularly helpful for the adrenals, soothing an inflamed digestive system, moistening the lungs, and relieving pain.

In herbal formulas, licorice is commonly used in a small amount because it acts as a harmonizer to bring the other herbs together and provide a more pleasant taste.

Energetically, licorice root is warming/neutral, and moistening. It’s flavor is very sweet and slightly bitter.

Nettles and Rose Herbal Tea

Prep:  none  | Serves: 1
Energetics + Flavor: Cooling, Slightly Moistening; Bitter, Astringent + Sweet

1 Tbs. dried nettle leaves (Urtica dioica)
½ Tbs. dried rose petals (Rosa x damascena,  Rosa nutkana, or Rosa canina)
Pinch of licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
12 oz. boiling water

  1. Bring water to a boil. While it’s boiling, combine the dried herbs in an herbal infuser or disposable tea filter. 
  2. When it has boiled, pour the water over the herbs in your mug. If you have an easy lid available, cover the mug. This will allow more of the medicinal constituents to stay within the tea rather than rising in the air in the steam. 
  3. Let infuse for 10-20 minutes, and longer if desired. 
  4. Drink when warm, or allow to cool to room temperature. 

Notes:
– If you have high blood pressure, omit the licorice root. If you’d like a touch of sweetness, add a couple drops of honey after the herbs have infused and it’s no longer piping hot.
-Good sources of these herbs if you need to order include: Mountain Rose Herbs and Starwest Botanicals. For Roses, you can collect the wild Nootka Rose petals locally during the late spring and summer months, or purchase rose petals. Diaspora Co. has incredibly high quality Paneer/Damask Rose petals, shown in the photo.
Amazon is not a great source for herbs since they are frequently lower quality/questionable sources. 

Time, Presence, Onwards, Cake

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I sat at a stop light the other day and observed the car in front of me:  Class of 2014  and the OSU beaver bumper stickers plastered amidst a bunch of others, graduation tassel hanging from the rearview mirror, windows down, speakers bumped up, the car lowered. The contrast between the person sitting in that car ahead and the one in mine made me realize the miles between freshman year in college and where I am now, of how life simply rolls on.

 

I was reminded of the relationships grown and discarded, graduations, funerals, weddings, the first-child pet dogs, cats, trees, and eventually babies that accumulate in my facebook feed and in friend’s lives, the late night “discussions,” the daily-fixings of self and relationship mess-ups, and how through it all we transition through the phases hardly noticing the passing until we stand from a distance years later, astonishing at the change.

 

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Time too is afraid of passing, is riddled with holes
through which time feels itself leaking.
Time sweats in the middle of the night
when all the other dimensions are sleeping.
Time has lost every picture of itself as a child.
Now time is old, leathery and slow.
Can’t sneak up on anyone anymore,
Can’t hide in the grass, can’t run, can’t catch.
Can’t figure out how not to trample
what it means to bless.

-Joy Ladin, Time Passes

 

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I walked down the aisle of St. Patrick Church three years ago today. I clasped hands with the love of my life and said, I do. I said yes to the hurdles, the craters, the euphoric peaks, and all the everyday in-betweens. I didn’t know how demanding it would be. I didn’t know how badly I’d fail. Daily.

 

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I didn’t realize the three years since that church-day, or the nine years separating myself and the college freshman in the car ahead would age me so. I didn’t know that I’d accumulate so much “experience,” that life would knock me down again and again, teaching me to raise my fists faster on each rebound. I didn’t realize how insular I was then and how passing time meant learning to grow vulnerable, inviting in both the challenging times and the victorious moments with the same big wide, open arms.

 

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I didn’t realize that wisdom and scar tissue work hand-in-hand, and if we’re lucky, time gives us the grace to be broken apart and put back together again. Most of all, I didn’t realize how I would battle with time constantly, with soaking up the moment I’m in and being there, all there, with this person that knows and loves me best, with myself, with the lives my life touches, with the becoming of who I will be in the future.

 

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I asked William a few weeks ago if he thought I was the same person he met all those years ago, the happy girl that stopped to breathe in the experiences. I asked the question in desperation, wanting so much to undo the years inbetween and relive them again more fully.

 

I realize now I don’t want to go back. The memories of us then are snapshots that I’ll carry forward, reminding me that I can work on future goals and keep both eyes and feet in the present.

 

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I have much to learn. I want so much to be my best version for this person that loves me even when I am not. I’m infinitely different and wiser than I was nine years ago at the end of freshman year. I have gained much richness in these first three years of married life.

 

I cannot wait to learn more. I will learn more in time and am trying to savor each step of the way daily. Perhaps the learning and applying of this comes only from time’s unstoppable moving onwards.  

 

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One of my most loved memories of our wedding were the cake(s). I’m a bit fanatic about cake, so made sure there were lots of layers and interesting flavor combinations to suit every mood. We had vanilla chiffon with blackberry filling, chocolate blueberry, cardamom carrot with orange cream cheese frosting, orange chiffon with strawberry rhubarb filling, red velvet with cream cheese frosting, and {gluten-free and vegan} black and white with fresh strawberries, chocolate ganache and cream cheese frosting. Unfortanately, I had learned of my major allergy restrictions by the wedding day, and so did not try any of the main cake but am still hearing raves about it from those who did. 

I don’t take sayings like “it’s good for gluten-free”, etc. to pass as “good enough” when it comes to baked goods. I have high standards especially when it comes to cake, and gluten-free baked goods, if done right, are often better than their gluten-filled counterparts. I like to really challenge my baking skills so this cake is gluten, dairy, egg, and refined-sugar free, practically 100% whole grain, and can even be vegan if you find a suitable substitute for honey. As for me, I’m keeping in the honey because I used really lovely honey gifted from folks at home and its flavor shines through at the end of each bite, marrying well with the delicate taste of the rose water and rhubarb. There were many variations of this that came from our oven before I got the flavors and textures right. Each one was tested by William, who is just as discerning about cake as me, but in a completely opposite way. He prefers light and fluffy “simple” flavors without much fuss. This gained approval by the both of us and for that reason alone, it’s worthy of an anniversary celebration. 

 

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Rhubarb & Rose Cake, makes one 8-inch or two 6-inch layers

2 Tbs. ground flax seed

6 Tbs. warm water

3/4 cup brown rice flour

1/4 cup almond flour

1/3 cup millet flour

2 tablespoons arrowroot powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 cup honey

1/4 cup coconut oil (soft, not melted)

2 teaspoons rose water

1/2 cup unsweetened nut milk

2 cups diced rhubarb

1 Tbs. dried rose petals

  • Preheat oven to 350° F. Line the bottom of the cake pan(s) with parchment paper and then rub a dab of coconut oil up the sides.
  • In a small dish, whisk together the ground flax and the warm water. Set aside to form a thick slurry.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, salt, and baking powder and set aside.  In another large bowl, combine the honey and coconut oil with a whisk until it’s light and fluffy.  Add the flax slurry, rose water and milk; mix again until it is combined.  Next, a bit at a time, stir in the dry ingredients. Spoon in about half of the rhubarb and stir evenly throughout.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans, if using two, and then top with the remaining rhubarb. Sprinkle the dried rose petals evenly over the rhubarb. Bake for 45-50 minutes for a single 8-inch pan or 25-30 minutes for two 6-inch pans.
  • Transfer baked cake to a cooling rack and allow to cool for about 20 minutes; then remove from the pan(s) and rest until completely cool.

 

Wedding photos were taken by my dear friend Shannon of FotoNovella.