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Milady's Tinctures, Tonics & Teas

“What are you doing?” he asked. His hands rested gently on my shoulders.

“Looking for that plant,” I answered, sticking a finger between the pages to mind my place. “The one I saw in the stone circle. See…” I flipped the book open. “It could be in the Campanulaceae, or the Gentianaceae, the Polemoniaceae, the Boraginaceae—that’s most likely, I think, forget-me-nots—but it could even be a variant of this one, the Anemone patens.” I pointed out a full color illustration of a pasqueflower. “I don’t think it was a gentian of any kind; the petals weren’t really rounded, but—”

Excerpt From: Gabaldon, Diana. “Outlander.” Bantam Dell, 1991. iBooks.
This material may be protected by copyright.

Everyone who knows me , knows of my passion for all thing Outlander and especially the character of Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser...wife, lover , mother, herbalist, Nurse and Doctor. So I've decided to create a page in her honor and once a week address a different medicinal, fragrant or nutritional herb from the vantage point of my favorite question - " What would Claire do with it ?" Stay tuned!

Milady's Tinctures, Tonics & Teas

Tinctures ,Tonics and Teas: Making the Perfect Iced Matcha Latte'




I've stopped drinking coffee because it does make me very jittery and has a tendency to raise my blood pressure and make my stomach hurt. That being said I wanted to find a drink that tasted great , was white sugar free and was caffeinated so I could have something great to drink in the morning. I stumbled upon the idea of a simple Matcha Latte'.
Beautiful Matcha Tea ~ Image Origin Unknown

Matcha is a delicious powdered Japanese green tea that is usually mixed with hot water to form a frothy ceremonial green tea. Here Nicole from Phoenix Coffee in Cleveland Heights demonstrates the perfect way to make my drink using unsweetened soy milk , Matcha , ice and honey! When I make it at home I shake it with unsweetened coconut or almond milk! It's absolutely delicious and because I'm drinking a tea made from the whole leaf the caffeine assimilated slowly AND I get all of the health benefits of the whole green Matcha tea. Matcha tea has tons of antioxidants and naturally boosts metabolism and burns calories, as well as has been known to aid in lowering cholesterol levels and blood sugar.
All you'll need is ice, 2 and a half cups of almond milk, about 6 scoops of powdered matcha tea and honey. If you can't use honey, you can use agave nectar or stevia. Put it all in a cocktail shaker, shake until frothy and enjoy! Sometimes if I want it to be a bit spicier I add a teaspoon of Penzeys Chinese Five Spice powder! Just delicious!


Tinctures ,Tonics & Teas~ A tea to keep all of your joints juicy!



Tinctures ,Tonics & Teas~ A tea to keep your joints juicy!

I love this time of year because Every morning I make fresh herb teas using the bounty of my yard and garden! There's plenty of time for tea bags in the dead of winter but now's the time to put a pot of spring water on the stove, set it to boil and then take a long walk in your yard with your harvesting scissors. Fresh herb teas simmered slowly are my favorites and I love drink them all summer long hot and iced.

This mornings tea is filled with plenty of herbal allies that will help to keep all of your muscles and joints juicy and pain free!

Here's what's in the saucepan;
Comfrey leaves~ a known arthritis reliever (use comfrey leaves for no more than two weeks at a time and then give your body a two week break)
Spearmint~a calming digestif with anti- oxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities
Stevia leaves ~ a natural sweetener
Black Raspberry leaves~ I find them to be an exceptional tonic  for drawing toxins out through the bowels, cleansing for the liver and kidneys.
Anise Hyssop~ a delightfully licorice flavored herb, a very relaxing nervine
Stinging Nettles ~ one of my favorite " all heal" plants, among all of its other virtues it's a fabulous spring tonic and a gift to those with poor circulation !

This is so simple to do and I hope that you'll feel inspired to create your own blends. Just take a handful of these fresh herbs and put them in a pan of spring water . Turn on low and let simmer for at least 20 minutes. Strain and flavor with stevia or honey and jump into the nearest hammock or cuddly chair....Delicious!

Kitchen Apothecary: Master Cleansers and Anti-inflammatoryTeas!

Tinctures, Tonics and Teas: MasterCleansers

Tinctures, Tonics and Teas: MasterCleansers

Oh Dear...There are those in living in my house who have not been eating as well as they should be and one in particular who finally confessed to me after I commented on his pasty countenance that he had been sneaking too many protein bars and Acai Energizer Smoothies as well as the more than occasional Starbucks.  

It doesn't surprise me...Jim is always on the go and does more things in a day than an energizer bunny. But, it's finally caught up with him. I keep teasing him that he's past 50 now and that he should just do everything that I say,  but you know that dog won't hunt! Joint pains, back pains , too many meals eaten out and too much fatigue have finally driven him straight back to my kitchen. He's on a quest to rebuild his energy and his adrenal glands naturally and the first place to start is with a good Master Cleanser and a recommitment to a great vegetarian diet!  

I've used the Master Cleanser for years whenever I've needed to give my body a jump start. It was intially given to me by my teacher LaWanna, but I've seen many variations of this over the years. Right now we're working on cleansing my husbands overall body but especially his liver which is sluggish and fairly angry at him. Too much sugar and meat will do that and this is the best way that I know to bring about the needed balance quickly! 

The Master Cleanser is a combination of spring water, maple syrup, cayenne Pepper and either lemon juice or raw apple cider vinegar. I know that it sounds horrid, but it's actually delicious, a bit like a spicy lemonade. I add very fine olive oil to mine. I've known people to fast on simply this drink for several weeks at a time although I don't encourage it because I think that it's too hard on the tooth enamel.Several days at a time won't hurt though and what I will say, is that after only two days of drinking the Master Cleanser (jars shown above) as well as  my Anti-inflammatory tea ( in the red pot) made fresh from Comfrey, Stinging Nettles, Spearmint,Turmeric, Stevia and Raspberry leaves he's already begun to feel an increase in his energy and better circulation throughtout his body.

Cayenne is a fabulous  gift to the  cardiovascular systems and is also a wonderfully warming spice  for anyone suffering from arthritis, bursitis or any other joint problems. Apple cider vinegar helps to move the body towards a better acid/ alkaline  balance  and  is truly beneficial for anyone whose general nature is too bitter or acidic. Those who are agressive by nature tend to produce more acid in their systems and those who eat meat and sugar on a regular basis are especially prone to these inbalances. Maple sugar is a wonderful blood sugar regulator and a wonderful source of natural energy and I include the olive oil  because it has such antioxidant qualities and the ability to help control high blood pressure and cholesterol. 

In about a week he'll move on to fresh juices , plenty of salads and steamed vegetables with fresh goat cheese , lots of yummy grains and a teaspoon or two of French Green clay and more raw vinegar in those juices to help detoxify the colon. 

 If you'd like to try the master cleanser it's extremely easy to make! Just take two tablespoons of maple syrup, the juice of one lemon or 2 tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar, two teaspoons of good olive oil , as much cayenne pepper as you can tolerate and mix it into a glass of spring water. It should be room temperature. You can drink this several times a day in place of your normal caffeinated drink and I think that you'll be surprised by how much natural energy you'll have. This is a good recipe to keep around for cold and flu season too. It's one of my my go-to remedies at first sign of a cold because it works so well and truth be told when shaken with some ice and a jigger of vodka or sake does make one of the most delightful martinis ever! (Sans the olive oil of course!)



Tinctures ,Tonics and Teas : The Roses in my garden are blooming ~ It must be time for Tea and Thalassotherapy!


  “To get the best results you must talk to your vegetables."

Prince Charles 

My gardens are telling me that  once again it's time for tea! My roses are so pretty this year and are producing abundant armfuls of blossoms for flavored sugars, syrups, bath oils and teas! In the fall there will be buckets of rose hips filled with vitamin C to add to my winter tea blends to help ward off a bitter chill! My favorite thing to do is to dry the petals and use them to make a pot of rose petal tea with a touch of cinnamon, anise hyssop leaves, sage and flavored with vanilla and honey...so wonderfully relaxing and so pretty too!

For edible use please make sure to only use roses that have not been touched by pesticide or herbicide. If you have roses that you want to use for tea you can dry them easily by laying them in a pan out in the bright sunshine. Store them when dry in a mason jar or a plastic freezer bag.

There are so many ways to use them .  Why don't you try stirring them into a jar of apple jelly then close the lid and let the petals infuse the jelly with their lovely fragrance. Spread this on a piece of hot toast with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a knob of fresh butter whenever  you're wanting to entice your sweetie back into bed...roses aren't known as the flower of lovers for no good reason! You could also throw three handfuls  of the petals and a cup of muddled raspberries into a decanted bottle of Rose' and add about a cup of honey.  Store it in the refrigerator for a fortnight and strain it into a pretty bottle. Chill and serve to someone that you love! 

To make a really fragrant rose petal tisane throw a handful of the dried leaves and buds, a handful of anise hyssop leaves, a teaspoon of culinary lavender and a stick of cinnamon into a warmed teapot and cover with hot water and let steep for 5 minutes. Flavor with raw honey and vanilla. For extra richness add a teaspoon of almond oil and a teaspoon of cream. This is not only dessert in a cup, but it is a wonderfully restorative tea to drink whenever you're feeling just a bit stressed or under the weather. Roses are calming to both the skin as well as the senses so besides drinking this lovely tea you could also add several sheets of dried seaweed into the pot , let it steep, strain, then pour several cups of this delightful brew into your bathwater and settle in for a long soak. Middle Eastern cultures have long extolled the virtues of a rosewater, milk and honey bath ( Think Cleopatra!) so you can't go wrong! You will emerge from the tub relaxed, fragrant and with the silkiest skin that you could ever imagine! Enjoy!

Tinctures , Tonics and Teas : The roses are a'blooming.. Time for tea!


"The Restorers" From the Druid Plant Oracle by Phillip Carr Gom


Tinctures , Tonics and Teas : The roses are a'blooming.. Time for tea!

Stirring the Senses ~ Spring Clean/sing!


Finally! I don't know about you but I'm just so grateful to see the sun again! Everywhere I look there are the signs.. Buds poking out on the trees, birds busy building their nests and flowers are popping up everywhere . Here are a few that I saw on my walk last night!

Kitchen Apothecary ~ Spring is Stirring

Don't forget that Spring is a great time for a cleanse. It doesn't have to be anything too harsh, just a lightening up of sorts ... A movement towards lighter, fresher foods. Wild greens like ramps, dandelions, violet leaves,chickweed, purslane and nettles are everywhere and they'll make a wonderfully cooling and tonic salad that you can dress simply with a bit of goat cheese, a sprinkle of pink Himalayan salt ,olive oil and lemon. If you want to go for something a little more potent  why don't you try juicing these same greens. Add some parsley, some swiss chard or spinach and for a touch of sweetness an apple or two. This is a cooling and refreshing juice that you can start the morning with that will rev up your system and get it feeling fun and frolicsome for the warm days ahead.

I love to add a tablespoon of pure French green clay to my juice in the morning to really draw the impurites from my system. This ancient secret, that of using edible clays as internal drawing salves is my "go to" remedy to suggest when one of my clients is suffering from from chronic constipation or indigestion. It also helps to cleanse the skin, because beautiful skin does start from within. I've suggested this to many a client who was suffering from chronic acne , eczema and rosacea. The first time that I tried it, I broke out with acne but within a week it subsided and I noticed healing beginning to happen all over my skin.   Of course if you try this yourself and notice a new rash or any burning, itching or anything that would seem like an allergic reaction you should discontinue using it immediately.  

Green teas, iced and sparkling with additions of fresh citrus fruits, berries, cucumber slices and herbs like basil, sage and mint are a wonderful aid for cleansing a system that's just a bit sluggish from the denser foods of winter. Adding a touch of raw honey during the cooling process will give you just enough sweetness and a lovely constant energy. You can use maple syrup too, a flavor which is absolutely delicious blended into tea and is very healthy on it's own , providing huge quantities of polyphenols to calm inflammation  and lots of antixidents to boost the immune system!

Spring is a very good time if you are so inclined to begin a plant based diet. I personally adhere fairly strictly to a diet of fruits, grains and greens and I eat seafood, raw milk cheese and some eggs as much of it from organic traceable sources as possible.  I can't stress enough the difference this makes to my moods, my body  and my worldview. I can't stress enough just how important it is to really  understand where your food is coming from. Corporations like Monsanto and Dow Chemical are doing their very best to keep our food supplies hostage by buying up plant patents and continuing to contaminate our foods, fields and waterways with Round-up and other dangerous herbicides. Factory farmed meat, chicken and fish are full of antibiotics and growth hormones, to say nothing of the absolute cruelty with which they are treated. If you are going to eat flesh foods, please make sure that they come from fully traceable sources. Truthfully? Our planet is depending upon it. 

Eating clean will help you feel lighter and feel better....I promise! Could one conversation change your life?  Drop me a line at beth.gehring@stirringthesenses.com and lets find out!

If  you are a first-time visitor, please be sure to like me on Facebook and receive my exciting and innovative tutorials on cooking and natural health topics!

For more information on my 6 month 'Stirring the Sense!" Health & Lifestyle Coaching program please go to www.bethschreibmangehring.com


Tea Leaves & Tarot Cards: Memories of High Tea & Jo Malones Sugar & Spice Collection



There is just something special about an traditional English tea. Everyone has tried to imitate it , but in my mind it's never been duplicated with the exception of the afternoon tea on Bergdorfs 7th floor which occasionally and with the right companion can come pretty close. Don't get me wrong, there are many lovely tea rooms here in America and I enjoy them all but there's a regality about a proper British tea that I thoroughly enjoy as well as a touch of whimsy which is allowable because tea is so entrenched in their culture that it's just understood and not worried about. British children have their own tea services for goodness sakes and It's a wonderful thing! More importantly and because the Brits are fairly addicted to sugar the sweets found at their High Teas are legendary and the savories are the perfect accompaniments.

  image from www.mofflymedia.com

But in my world it was all about the sweets. You haven't lived until you've tasted a real British scone, with homemade jam and fresh clotted cream, all buttery and warm I might add. You just haven't and I've never met an American scone that could come close. It's a bit like a southern biscuit…you must use Crisco or forget it. British scones are filled with butter…lots of butter and white flour.  Some things should truly just never be tampered with. Just eat one and then jump back onto the healthy band-wagon. For the majority of us, one won't hurt you and the reward is a rich and relaxing afternoon!

Tea has been a part of my world since I was a very young child. I've talked many times about my own mothers penchant for afternoon tea; raised by a very Patrician mother of her own she continued to believe until the day she died that it was the only civilized meal left to be eaten in the western world.   As a result of this passion when she died I inherited several pretty fabulous tea sets and was left with decades of wonderful memories. My father was a coffee drinker so she didn't really get to enjoy afternoon tea unless she was traveling with me.  My mother and I enjoyed  tea all around England, Scotland and Ireland and those images are engraved in my mind and heart forever. So are the smells and the perfect tea services!  I learned to love coddled eggs because of breakfast teas , egg and radish sandwiches, Scottish salmon croquettes and refreshing fruit soups!

image from static.productreview.com.au

Because we were in the porcelain business we had appointments to visit every wonderful factory and in those days they always had a beautiful high tea prepared for us when we arrived.  I’ll never forget the high tea at the Royal Worcester / Spode factory , where the whole thing was served on  a set of Duke of Gloucester, with British sterling and Stuart Crystal…I felt like a Princess. I still remember that because because that was the first time that I ever enjoyed a buttered roast beef and watercress tea sandwich which is an absolute thing of beauty. I've even been lucky enough to have gotten the chance to enjoy many a cucumber sandwich and later in life a few martinis with Lord Wedgwood, a most charming gentleman who definitely knows his teas. More recently my nephew Michael is spending a year or two in Oxford in a masters program, and he keeps posting all of these lovely pictures of tea that he’s enjoying on a spring holiday that he’s taking through the English countryside with his darling girlfriend Molly, placing afternoon tea in the forefront of my mind once again. 

image from 1.bp.blogspot.com
So it came as no surprise to me yesterday when I was walking through Saks Fifth Avenue that my eye was drawn to the uncharacteristically vibrant display at the Jo Malone counter. I walked over and took a look at the display of 5 little bottles with sugar spun pastel labels displayed with a covered glass cake plate filled with sweets named most appropriately  “The Sugar and Spice Collection”.  I rolled my eyes and then the really sweet SA came over to talk to me and convinced me to take a closer look.  I’m not really one for foodie scents, but I’ve got to admit I was almost immediately smitten. I don’t know if it was the perfumes themselves or just the whole presentation, but as I sprayed them I became very happy, in a distinctly childlike way. By the time I was done I was wearing them all and they blended together beautifully like an elegantly set tea table amidst a blowzy English herbaceous border. All that was missing was the perfect hat, cartwheeling children and a couple of large lovely dogs!  I brought them home to my husband to see if  it was just a product of my overly vivid imagination ,  but he loved them and said that I smelled like a perfect country day. Enough said!

Here are the descriptions of each of these pretty perfumes straight from the Jo Malone site.


Ginger Biscuit

“Just-baked biscuit. Spiced with ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon, melting into caramel. Butter-crumbly with roasted hazelnuts. Warmed by tonka bean and vanilla. Irresistible”


Lemon Tart

“The mouth-watering tang of lemon tart. Sparkling with citrus fruits and verbena, contrasted with swirls of meringue and lemon thyme. Refreshing.”


Red Currant and Cream

“A summer pudding. Sharp-scarlet juices of red currants, lush strawberries and raspberries, rippling through creamy musk. Vivacious and enticing.”


Elderflower and Gooseberry

“A voluptuous gooseberry fool. Crushed, summer-green gooseberries, juicy with lychee, enfolded into the soft delicacy of elderflower. Tender and feminine.”


Bitter Orange and Chocolate  

“The bite of bitter orange, layered with dark chocolate.  Orange peel counterpoised with warm, powdery cocoa, milky coconut and coumarin.  Sumptuous and addictive.”


They are all wonderful and I’d love to give a whole set not just to a granddaughter but to myself. I adore the Bitter Chocolate on it’s own and find the elderflower and Gooseberry to be something that I’d enjoy wearing all spring long. I must admit that until I smelled this collection the genre  of  sugary fruity gourmand perfumes had escaped me almost entirely, but there’s something about these  playful Jo Malone’s that’s absolutely delightful and makes the possibility of smelling like a warm ginger biscuit seem sophisticated and very romantic. They’re only available through March so you don’t have much more time and priced at 60.00 a bottle they’re easy to succumb to.  Take your inner child to tea (or at least a precocious niece or nephew!) and try them all!


 Photo Credits on each picture ~ this was originally posted on my favorite Perfume blog ~ Perfume Smellin Things

Tinctures ,Tonics and Teas: The Legend of the Four Thieves and the Healing Herbs and Oils that inspired it!


Palgue mask

It's flu season and many of us are experiencing strains of Influenza that are stronger than anything that we've known on the past. I myself caught it right before Christmas and I've never been quite as sick as I was for that week. It's fairly dangerous stuff, turning into pneumonia in many and leaving you with a cough that can last as it did in my case for over a month. I'm generally really healthy, but I caught it working retail over the holidays when I dove for a ringing phone line right after a sick manager had been using it. Live and learn! I refused to go back to work until they promised to wipe down the phones after each use!

I took myself to the urgent care center to have the nasal swab test so I knew what I was dealing with and once it was determined that I had the dreaded Influenza A,  I spent several days in bed and took care of myself using all of the remedies that I knew would help. Dayquil/Nyquil just made me feel worse so I didn't even try anymore after the first two times.

What worked?  Piping hot baths with drops of essential oils of lavender (relaxing) and sweet birch (to promote sweating) , as hot as I could stand them really seemed to help with the aches and fevers , copious cups of elderberry tea, with drops of sage, chapparal tincture and lavender essential oils and honey and plenty of immunity boosting chicken soup!

I always put herbs in my chicken soup, but when anyone around me is ill, I make a special pot using the herbs and spices that I know will be helpful. I take my cues from the mysterious legend of the 4 thieves, a story in the aromatherapy and herbal world that has taken on almost mythic proportions, but has plenty of validity when you break it down into it's component parts. The story of the 4 thieves is an interesting one. In short, the bubonic plague swept through Europe on and off for approximately 600 years before it finally reached it's peak in the 1300's and continuing to claim thousands of lives well into the 1700's, almost half of the population. This is the time period that we begin to see those drawings of physicians running around in those silly looking bird beaked masks. It turns out those masks really did have a purpose as the Doctors of the age stuffed the beaks with herbs, essential oils and spices to keep temselves from breathing the infected air.  

Invigo herbal
Image not attributable to original source

Around the same time a story was beginning to surface that to this day no one really knows if it was true. Supposedly 4 thieves who were incredibly successful at robbing the corpses of the plague ridden dead were caught ,brought to trial and offered leniency if they would turn over the formula that successfully kept them from contracting the illness. One look at some of the recipes makes complete sense to me. Lavender, sage ,cinnamon,turmuric,  garlic,rosemary,onion,mustard seed, cloves, oregano and lemon are all known and potent anti- inflammatory/ anti- microbials as are ginger root, thyme and olive oil, which they used as the base for the oil that they massaged into their skin and gloves. We really do not know for sure if these thieves ever existed, but regardless, the recipes are interesting , potent and wonderful!

Vietnamese Pho~ Wikipedia


All of these read like a delightful and powerful chicken soup recipe to me so into the soup pot they go! The Asian cultures have done this for years and I love it. There are restaurants that you can go into all over Vietnam, Thailand, Korea, Japan and China (these are only the countries that I know of , I'm sure that there are others!) and be diagnosed and cooked for at the same time proving once again that old adage..."Let your food be your medicine". Although I love a bowl of traditional chicken soup, the one I make is more like a bowl of Pho, with a spicy stock and shreds of organic chicken breast, shrimp or beef into which all of these potent herbs and spices go as well as whole basil leaves, slices of jalapeno , a dash of black salt and a squeeze of fresh lime. 

The other thing that I do is make a spray out of raw vinegar and these essential oils: Lemon, lavender, cinnamon, clove, rosemary, sage, oregano, white thyme and eucalyptus. Basically I use 2 cups of vinegar and 20 drops (a little goes a long way!) of each of these oils. Shake well before each use and spray them on countertops, telephones and other surfaces. These oils can also be diffused in a traditional aromatherapy diffuser and they do smell wonderful as well as healing! Eucalyptus oil, lemon,sage and lavender oils mixed with some extra virgin olive oil makes a very healing and delightfully aromatherapeutic chest rub.

If you are going to try to ingest any of these oils internally, only use a drop or two because they are potent. All of the oils that I have suggested are ingestible in minute amounts with the exception of the eucalyptus which you should never take internally. One or two drops of a couple of these (Please not all at once!) in a cup of tea with some elderberry syrup and raw honey will help you feel better quickly! If you have any questions at all , please do not hesitate to ask them in the comment section below or go to www.bethschreibmangehring.com to fill out a health history form and I'll get to back to you with a time a date that you can schedule a free, absolutely no obligation 50 minute health consult with me .

We can also easily stay in touch at https://www.facebook.com/bethschreibmangehringholistichealthcoach



Please note:

I am not a registered nutritionist , dietician or personal trainer. I am a Board Certified Holistic Health  ractitioner. Any advice that is given is based upon my own personal observations, opinions or experiences I've had in life and the training that I've accrued. 

 Many don't realize this but the  craft of herbalism is not regulated nor licensed by any governing body in the US. There are no real legal title designations for American herbalism. This means anyone who desires to do so can deem themselves an herbalist with any title they choose and any level of training. To maintain personal standards and relay the degree of learning obtained, herbalists in America typically use the title their school or teacher gave them . Use your own instincts to determine the level of expertise posessed by any practitioner that you consider using to help you enhance your health and well being. I am of the opinion myself that this places the onus on us to be teachers who will help you in your quest to become healthy and that if we do our job right you'll be able to understand and utilize these plants, foods and extracts yourself for your overall wellbeing.

As an Herbalist/Aromatherapist I will not ever diagnose your condition , treat you medically or interfere with any treatment that your Doctor may have prescribed. Keep in mind that every person and every body is different. Don't expect to have the same results as me (or anyone else). And while I don't think any of my behaviors are risky, they may be risky for you depending on your own personal health.  Herbs, Flower Essences and Essential Oils should always complement whatever treatments have been prescribed for you by your physician and never be used in place of such treatment without first obtaining your Doctors permission .  

 Herbs, Flower and Crystal Essences and Botanical Essential Oils can generally be used with and enhance almost any other form of therapy, however I do recommend that anyone becoming my client makes sure that they first see their primary care physician to properly diagnose and begin treatment for any physical or emotional dis/ease they may have.



Tinctures ,Tonics & Teas : Harvesting Wild Ramps



Last night, a friend posted a gorgoues picture of spring radishes on facebook and it started me thinking about wild ramp season! In fact, I'm so obsessed with wild ramps that I  had dreams about them all night and I woke up starving!  It's still early in February, and more snow is heading our way, but my half full cup says that it's almost Spring and what I'm dreaming about is a lovely trail ride through the woods with my favorite horse, Henry and my gathering basket, being seduced by the enticing flavour of the wild ramps that can can be found in early  March through mid April! Wild ramps are a seasonal vegetable, that used to be found from late March to mid May depending upon where you live, but the last few years have found the effects of climate change beginning to change their growing season. If you've never tasted a wild ramp, trust me, you'll love them. The flavor is of a wild garlicky leek and like all edible members of the Allium family they have an immediate and pronounced tonic effect on our circulatory and immune systems.  I love to use them in soups and stews, and have even been know to eat one or two of them raw with fresh sweet butter and bit of French sea salt. I love to add one or two of them to my juicer along with carrots, tomatoes, peppers, garlic and cucumber for my morning juice and this very same juice has been known to double as a perfect base for a Bloody Mary!  I cook and puree them with asparagus, wild mushrooms and cream for a wonderful spring soup and  I love to stuff them under the skin of a roasting chicken or toss them in the stock pot when I'm making bone broth!



If you're out in the woods  you'll know that you've found a patch of them when your nose picks up a spicy garlicky aroma, amid the yummy fresh greens and sweet dirt smells of spring. They are beautiful plants with fleshy, vibrant green leaves and purple shoots that lead into a lovely familiar looking white bulb. When you're harvesting them just take a few of the shoots and leave the rest, trust me, a few is all you will need because the flavour is intense!  If you don't have time to go find your own, the good news is that wild ramps will have been harvested for you by many of the wonderful Eastern farmers who have booths at the outdoor markets that begin in the Spring.  That being said, it's a wonderful thing to happen upon a patch of wild ramps and a terrific excuse for a walk on the early spring forests but it's always important to remember to harvest any wild plant appropriately- here are a few tips!

A Few of my Rules About Harvesting Wild Foods!

Always make sure that you know what you are harvesting. Get a really good guide book, and if possible go with someone who knows how to distinguish between similar looking plants. Old farmers are usually a great source of information, but please leave wild mushroom harvesting to the pros!

Take a smaller amount than what you think you need and if possible gather from several different spots.

Always make sure that you have permission to gather on the land that you're foraging.

When you gather wild foods, make sure that you leave dirt on the roots, and keep a moist towel with you to wrap them in. I like to use cloth dishtowels, because I think that paper towels are too absorbent for the delicate roots.

Use a small hand cultivator to harvest your wild plants, and when you are choosing which plants to take, (as goofy as this may sound!) simply ask them! It's my experience that plants that are ready to be picked simply slide out of the earth more easily. If you get some real resistance, move on to the next one, and please don't pull on them so hard that they are damaged! There will always be one or two that will be happy to go home with you! A gentle tug is all that they need and then a light twist of your cultivator to help release them.

Like the Native Americans before us walk gently on the earth wherever you are and when you gather wild things  please consider leaving something in return. The tradition of giving back to the earth is a very old one used by the Native Americans who were the first to farm this land. I've always got something in my pocket (corn, hay, a little  bit of compost) to leave as a thank you when I take any plants from the wild. I know it sounds silly, but for me it completes the circle of harvest and life!

Tinctures, Tonics and Teas: Herbal Lullaby Elixir

LInden Tree & Blossoms~ Photograph not easily attributible

If you're anything like me, at age 53 it's a little bit tough to get a good nights sleep. My husband puts his head on the pillow and sleeps like a baby but oh no...not me. Menopause by itself can have me tossing and turning and if you add a bit of stress to the mix, I'm bound to be up for most of the night. Removing caffeine and alcohol before bed is very helpful, but I also have found that 2 dropperfuls of my "Herbal Lullaby Elixir" in a cup of warm water about an hour before bed works wonders! Then just slide under the covers, read a book for a bit and doze off. You should wake up refreshed and ready to start your day!

This tincture is an infusion of some of my favorite herbal allies. I'm not one for Ambien and I'm naturally very intense, so I made friends with these plants quite some time ago. Everyone of them is cooling, soothing and promotes a restfulness without drowsiness. Hops and valerian are well known relaxants but you still won't wake up feeling as if you've taken a sleeping pill. Linden is one of the loveliest nervines that I know and is used all over France to promote relaxation. Oatstraw keeps everything cool and juicy and the lavender is a natural sleep enhancer, slowing the activity of the nervous system and thought to promote lovely dreams. Hyssop is a delightful anti-anxiety herb and the catnip speaks for itself. All you need to see is your favorite kitty rolling around on a catnip pillow to know why I included it in the mix! And then there's the Rose Absolute. Rose Absolute is just such a beautiful and evocative scent and is the ultimate aphrodisiac, nervine and antidepressant.  It's magical presence in this elixir provides the alchemy that ties it all together and makes it work so well.


 Herbal Sleeping Elixir/ Beth Schreibman Gehring


I make this tonic in large mason jars (dill pickle size!) so my measurements are for one of those!

In each mason jar layer:

2 tablespoons of raw honey

1 and a half cups of tart cherry juice

1 and a half cups of  blueberries, raspberries and blackberries

3 tablespoons each of:

Linden flowers








10 drops of organic, culinary rose absolute  ( My favorite culinary essential oils are the Chef's Essences by Mandy Aftel)



Layer all of the ingredients into the mason jar and top with vodka. Close the top of the jar and shake until blended. In about three weeks, strain and funnel into dropper bottles. To use, add two dropperfuls of this tincture to a cup of warm water or  herbal tea. Add honey if you'd like and sip, preferably in a warm bath or wrapped in a soft robe.



Courtesy of Everything lavender.com


A lavender and hops filled sleeping pillow is the perfect sidekick to this potion and so easy to make.  Just get two pieces of rectangular shaped soft flannel and sew them together , leaving one side open. Fill the pillow with arborio rice or buckwheat hulls, lavender and hops flowers and then add about 20 drops of lavender essential oil. Sew up the open side and roll the pillow back and forth to distribute the lavender oil. Either take it to bed as it is or heat it in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 3 minutes. You'll be dreaming sweet dreams in no time flat!