I love a good cup of tea. I love it so much that I’m more than a little bit snobbish about it. Tea bags are completely forbidden in my house, and I own a variety of tea brewing tools from all sorts of different tea drinking cultures. I’ve even been known to do my best at trying my had at different Chinese tea ceremonies. It’s practically a mediational practice for me.
As a tea snob, one would assume that I would also eschew herbal teas and insist that they be called their proper name of ’tisane.’ One would be half right: I’ve long gotten past the ‘herbal tea’ irritation, and I do eschew herbals…except for when I want a hot drink without caffeine. In fact, I’ve even come up with my own ‘night time’ blend. Usually such teas include chamomile, but I don’t much care for its taste and it’s a pain in the neck to clean out of a brew basket, so I have gone with other soothers: lavender, spearmint, lemongrass, and rooibos. I think I’ve been drinking versions of this tea since at least 2007, when the tea company I did some work for, Adagio, came up with their blending service and I became a guinea pig.
Lavender, of course, has long been associated with peacefulness, love, and safety. It’s been a major part of many women’s perfumes for years, and we often include it with baby soaps to help them calm down at night. The scent alone seems to ease stress and increase happiness–which, in my opinion–is crucial to a restful sleep. The scent and taste of lemongrass offers a nice counterpoint to lavender (remember all the lavender lemonades that have become fashionable as of late?), and it is sometimes used magically to aid in developing psychic powers, which can help dreams be more purposeful. Mints in general have connections with healing and protection and can relieve headaches. Spearmint in particular helps to sharpen mental powers and offers protection during sleep. It’s taste also blends well with the other herbs.
Rooibos, however, does not have a strong Western magical tradition nor does it have a history of use here. It only grows in a certain region of South Africa, and the natives and locals have a history and traditional use there. It’s grown into a globally popular beverage as of late (particularly in Thailand where it is the base of thai tea), so scientists have been paying it more attention. Research has found that a traditional use of using it as a sleep aid has merit, and can be useful in helping with insomnia, disturbed sleeping patterns, and headaches. It may also help with nervous tension and digestive issues.
I often find myself having at least one mug of this at night while I read or watch TV, and I do find that it soothes me. In part, it is in having a ‘bed time ritual’ that helps me ready myself, but I also find that I’m far more likely to have more restful sleep if I drink it than if I don’t. At the very least, it gives me another opportunity to drink more water, and good hydration is so important to good health. I don’t think the tea itself causes sleep as much as it causes my brain to be more receptive to sleep. As such, I find it also makes a really good pre-ritual cleansing beverage.
Melissa’s Relaxation Tea
Yield: Roughly 3.5 ounces
15 grams (.53 ounce) dried lavender blossoms
10 grams (.35 ounce) dried spearmint leaf
25 grams (.88 ounce) dried lemongrass leaf
45 grams (1.59 ounces) red rooibos leaf
Gently mix all the herbs together in a large bowl until they form a fairly even mixture. Store the herbs in an air-tight, light proof container. The herbs will keep for about a year, if the tea lasts that long.
To brew, put a teaspoon or two of the herbs into a brew basket, ball, or paper tea liner, and set the brewing device into a mug. Pour boiling water over the leaves and let the tea brew for 10 minutes. Remove the brewing device and drink, sweetening if you desire.
The grams listed here are basic approximations. I’ve gotten pretty good at eyeballing what I need, so sometimes I’m a gram or so off. It doesn’t particularly matter. It’s also completely up to taste. If you like less of an herb and more of another, by all means change it up. These herbs in these amounts cost me roughly $3.50 at my local grocery. In contrast, 3 ounces of the tea I blended for Adagio will run you $10.