MOS?

That’s short for Mandarin Orange Spice, peeps…

…and this is the tea I most often find in my cupboard after my mother-in-law Karen comes for a visit.  Usually it just sits there patiently waiting for her as I bypass it to create my own herbal blends.  But the other day this orange and black box caught my eye.

The first thing I noticed was the painting on the front of the box–it’s simply lovely.  I feel like we tea drinkers have all seen it a million times, but take a closer look…

It's a little world in here...

I especially love Barry Zaid’s rendition of those peeled and segmented oranges at the bottom of the painting. Visual beauty is such a lure…

So I opened that standard tea box with the cute little packaging and the first thing I noticed was the smell..that tea bag smelled good!  Orangey, but also like chicory and cinnamon and hibiscus flower.  And all together they create that characteristic MOS smell and flavor.  It’s memorable.  It reminds me of my early tea drinking days in college…dorms, 11pm, mulling over new-found politics.

I got excited.  There is such a charge, a thrill involved with remembering sometimes…

I quickly poured myself a cup, but didn’t let it steep too long–maybe about 3 minutes.

The result?  NICE!

So I still really like this tea…it’s a good balance of roots and berries, earthy and sweet.  The hibiscus of course gives it the Celestial Seasonings “zing”, but it’s countered by the blackberry leaves and the chamomile.  It’s not a simple tea, but it’s not trying too hard either.   The other Celestial “Zingers” I could turn away from and not look back, but I’m glad I rediscovered Celestial Seasonings Mandarin Orange Spice.  I honestly can’t believe I forsook it for so long.

www.celestialseasonings.com/products/detail.html/herbal-teas/mandarin-orange-spice

MOS=Most Optimal Seasonings tea bag so far...

Advertisements

Hi all.  It’s time to offer some more tasty handmade herbal concoctions.  Hope these help you to soak up the sun and celebrate the rebirth we are now experiencing.  Welcome Spring!

It's thyme for tea...

Spring Me Tea:  Local garden thyme and Meyer lemon peel meet dandelion leaf and mint to create this refreshingly subtle sweet blend.  I’m working hard to keep it local, so check out this lovely thyme from Auntie Leslie’s garden.

Medicinal Properties:  This tea helps to gently awaken the mind, stimulate circulation, and kick that lingering winter cold out the door for good, as thyme is anti-microbial and a “noble strengthener of the lungs” (N. Culpepper.)

One ounce of loose leaf tea (makes approximately 25 cups)  is $8.00.

Limited supply. Get it while it’s hot.

And now, chocolate meets herbs…

Imagine the most delicious chocolate truffle made better by the addition of an herbal cordial.  Medicine comes in all forms, baby!!!

FYI:  This truffle recipe is compliments of the Zuni crew, and is made with delicious whole foods like fresh cream, butter, and lots of fair trade dark chocolate.  Sorry vegans.

Chocolate Truffles with Herbal Spring Pizazz: Delicious chocolate truffles infused with herbal liqueur.  Read on…

Where’s the pic?  Here it is on Em’s lovely, full-bodied cooking blog!

littlemissgoldenblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/04/chocolate-truffles/

My rendition of her truffles will include two herbie flavors!

-Chocolate infused with Grappa, hibiscus blossom, Meyer lemon zest, Elder and Schisandra berries, and coated in more dark chocolate with a fancy cocoa powder dusting.

-Chocolate infused with brandy, rosehips, rose and hibiscus blossoms. This one is coated in milk chocolate with a cocoa powder/ground rose petal dusting.

Twelve (generous) truffles, 6 of each flavor, for $15.00

PS (The centers are chocolatey soft but not juicy–the alcohol content is kept low.  In other words, cordial is not going to explode all over that cute spring outfit you wore to your Dolores park picnic with your new spring lover…ok?  I got your back.

Ordering details: Place your order now!  Ordering deadline is Sunday March 28th.  Your delicious goodies will be made to order, and available for you to pick up at my home in the Mission, SF April 2 between 5-8pm.  Call me if you need shipping or special treatment.  We can talk.

Wiseleaf, Katie Delwiche, 415-613-7010 wiseleafherbal@gmail.com

I love my garden.

I love it’s imperfections.

They exist because I neglect my garden, truthfully.

Although I believe they would exist anyway, despite my best efforts.  For you see, there is no such thing as the perfect garden. Nature has other ideas…and gardening is inherently a human activity.  Only humans would want to tinker with THE Garden that they had been given.

Tulip ala Anne...

Anne Frost, my upstairs neighbor (and fellow professional gardener) planted these gorgeous tulip bulbs in our backyard.  They have been open for the last week or so, reluctant to  expose their sexual parts to the ridiculous hail, rain and fiercely fickle March sunshine of the SF bay area.  The benefit of their reluctance is that we get to have them around a little longer.   They also teach me a (repeat) lesson about the impermanence of things.  I understand that they must fade, and so I appreciate them for what they are now.

I also wish I could have captured how really special they look against our neighbor’s robin’s egg blue wall.

Urban gardening is an exercise in letting go.

Lemon verbena trunk meets tulip meets retaining wall...

We live in a canyon of the buildings.  We don’t get too much in the way of sun back there…Sometimes it’s loud music stacked with laughter at all hours.  The humans may suffer their neighbors habits, but the plants still grow regardless of what he said/she said.  I consider this a minor miracle.   I also happen to believe that these green survivors really like their deep urban habitat.

For example, I have a fruiting raspberry patch for 6 months out of the year (!) The disappearing lemon balm reappeared!  The Forget Me Nots wink at me and remind me of both the Sierra Nevada forests and the Wisconsin woods of my childhood.   This is charmed.  This is medicine for the urban soul…

Through the looking glass...

This is a perfect nesting place for a Mourning dove?   I suspect it’s far from perfect, but it certainly is available and utilized and loved–more than I tend to realize.

The temptation for me is to criticize all that my garden is not…after all, people pay me to work in their gardens.

But the lesson of our garden is that it is enough.   It is enough for the Silver Lady Ferns, and the rescued boxwood, and the aging Pieris japonica.

And that is a metaphor for life.  My garden is imperfectly beautiful, and it is enough for me.

Mourn no more...

Ambiguous...

Help.  I really want to like this tea.

I have enjoyed other delicious blends by Organic India whose focus is Tulsi or Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum) infusions.  Perhaps now is the right time to give a shout out to my favorite one called Sweet Rose Tulsi Tea…it’s REALLY GOOD.

But back to the Jasmine Tulsi…

Let’s talk about the main ingredient of this tea.  Tulsi or Holy Basil is first and foremost a sacred medicinal plant.  I really could yarn on about this plant, but the important take home points are as follows:  Tulsi is a major stress reducing, immune system regulating, antioxidant, neuroprotective plant.  It also has numerous digestive health benefits, it’s antibacterial, and stimulates milk production in lactating women.  And the list goes on…(really.)

A brief history:

Tulsi (a Hindi word) is used daily by many people throughout Southern Asia, especially Southern India. Holy basil is sacred to the Hindi god Vishnu, and purported to balance the chakras. The stems of the plants are made into beads for use in meditation practice to give clarity and protection.  It is acclaimed  as possessing sattva (energy of purity), “capable of bringing on goodness, virtue, and joy in humans” (Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief, D. Winston and S. Maimes.)

You all want a cup, huh?

Tulsi’s flavor nature is sweet and spicy.  Standing alone in water it is strongly aromatic.  As you might expect with the presence of the aromatics, it has a slightly allspice-ish clove-ish mouth numbing tingle, but somehow still manages to be delicately earthy and sweet.  It’s a balanced, complex taste, and smelling it  not only reminds me of many things, it always makes me feel better.   For instance, my brain goes to this place:  Nighttime with only the darkness and the stars, dew, bliss, the smell of (friendly) wild things… It’s a cross between walking barefoot through my childhood garden and smoking my third or fourth cigarette…and then realizing I don’t need to smoke cigs to deal with my angst-ish feelings…I’m six, then I’m 18, and the memories keep tumbling but somehow emotionally resolve…

I know it sounds outlandish, but it’s one of those plants that can transport you somewhere else.   It’s  a complex plant for a complex world.  I’ve got great expectations…

I want to cross the word "Jasmine" off this package...

So like I said earlier, I really want to like this tea, but what’s really bugging me is that I can’t smell or taste the jasmine. (And that’s the title of the tea.)

I think the problem is the Anise is too strong…I get the bitter of the chamomile, especially after a longer steeping (5 minutes plus).   I try an overnight cold infusion, which yields a slightly more refreshing cup, but still can’t find the Jasmine.  I try short hot infusions–no James Brown.

I check myself for a moment:  am I looking for that JB hip pop Jasmine taste and smell I get from my favorite green Jasmine tea?  If so, is that realistic?  This tea does smell nice and taste nice too…it’s not that it’s a bad tea…

I suspect the anise was probably added to sweeten this blend a bit, but it’s too heavy.  It completely masks the Jasmine, and I am simply sad.  I honestly think they would have had a better blend if they had left it out altogether.  Either that or just PLEASE RENAME the tea.  It’s not Jasmine Tulsi tea, it’s Anise Tulsi tea.  Or something kindred.

Try the Sweet Rose Tulsi tea instead…