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Back to Basics: Making Herbal Teas with Brigitte Mars

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So many of us are removed from our herbs these days since we generally choose faster methods of consumption such as pills, capsules, tablets, powdered extracts, and tinctures since they fit our busy lifestyles. Because of this, many have lost connection with the art of tea making and the relaxing, conversational and meditative ways this preparation provides.

Healing Herbal Teas MarsBut no longer! Brigitte Mars has brought us back to the garden with her book, Healing Herbal Teas, A Complete Guide to Making Delicious, Healthful Beverages, (Basic Health Publications, Laguna Beach, California, 2006). If you haven’t yet read this book, it’s a good one to peruse as you concoct an experimental infusion in a jar, French press, or refrigerator.

Healing Herbal Teas reminds us what the Chinese have said for thousands of years: that taking herbs in tea form assimilates very efficiently and so is the most effective method of administration. This book covers many methods of making teas as well as a variety of ways to flavor them, which is especially useful for the more bitter ones. It also describes the difference between an infusion and tisane, in case you’re wondering!

Healing Herbal Teas profiles 45 common herbs including their medicinal use, herbal properties, traditional applications, constituents, contraindications, wildcrafting, and cultivation. As well, she provides wonderful wine tasting-like descriptions of each herb’s flavors. Much historical information and uses of each herb in different countries is included. Yet, the book never loses sight of using herbs in tea form by including various recipes and flavoring approaches.

A special chapter covers using teas topically in such applications as baths, compresses, eyewashes, facial steams, hair rinses, foot baths, hand baths, mouthwashes, gargles, sitz baths and steam inhalations. Teas really do provide us with a complete medicine kit!

On top of this, there are pages and pages of herbal tea formulas for all sorts of conditions and purposes. These include such tame names such as "Headache Tea" all the way to whimsical ones like, "Follow the Yellow Brick Road Tea." Now wouldn’t you like to try that last one??? As if that’s not enough, there’s even a chapter on herbal food recipes, including a tea party menu.

If there’s someone you know starting on the herbal path or beginning to use herbs, this is a great hands-on book to delight their senses along the way. And if you have lost your hands-on approach with herbs, then this will guide you back into the garden and kitchen to enjoy unusual herbal combinations and flavors and remind you of the potency and wide application of herbal teas. 

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