By: Molly Helfend
As we pull back the white veil and mop up the clouds’ tears of winter, we inch closer to the new beginning of the spring equinox. Spring brings fresh awakening to not only the earth, but our souls as well. This spirit-lifting energy pulls those hazy shades of winter out over our eyes and brings forth the reception for spring cleaning. With creative energy and scenic wonder blossoming across the land, we free ourselves from the heaviness and lethargy of the cold season. With the offering from tonic spring herbs, we allow luminescent energy to flourish and guide circulation and lymphatic movement into our bodies.
Springtime herbs speak directly to tonic teas. These herbs support liver function, urinary tract health and gentle detoxifying, as bring forth vitamins and minerals to course through the body. During winter, most of us have an inaccessibility to a constant fresh supply of greens, especially since we tend to eat heavier more root-based plants to sustain energy and warmth. Verdant herb teas are extremely beneficial for springtime, as are including other yin (aerial parts of plants, including leaves and flowers) herbs to our teas to kindly detox the body after such winter illnesses as upper respiratory infections and sluggish digestion.
One of the primary base herbs used in this tea recipe is nettle. Represented with the fire elements, nettle is rich in vitamin A, C and K. It also has very high mineral contents as well as calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, protein, formic acid, beta-carotene and chlorophyll. It is tonic, anti-inflammatory, astringent and diuretic. The other primary base herb used is chickweed. Represented with the water elements, chickweed has a very cooling nature and is excellent for healing conditions of heat, sluggishness, inflammation, itching, and rebuilding vitality, while also helping to shed extra winter pounds. It is also a storehouse of vitamins and minerals including iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, silicon, zinc, phosphorus, potassium, protein, sodium, copper, carotenes, and vitamins B and C. Its herbal actions include emollient, astringent, carminative, demulcent, diuretic, expectorant, laxative, and vulnerary. Chickweed also can be found almost anywhere, growing with moist, cultivated soil. I personally prefer it fresh, as not only does it have such a lively viridescent flavor, but it also is richer in medicinal components. However, you can dry them yourself or if it does not grow around you, buying bulk dried chickweed is great as well.
Dandelion, represented with the air elements, is a wild, free and abundant herb, rich in vitamin A, C and D, as well as, iron, potassium, calcium, and inulin. This bitter herb is a diuretic, alterative, urinary tonic and liver and kidney decongestant. Calendula, represented with the fire elements, is a bright burst of color in your spring tea! Gently cleansing and enriching almost every system, it helps with sluggish digestion, painful menstruation, skin irritation, and lymphatic congestion. Its herbal actions include vulnerary, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, emmenagogue, and lymphatic. Red clover, represented with the air elements, is a sweet-tempered vitamin-rich herb. A graceful flower, it is alterative, lymphatic, expectorant, demulcent and anti-catarrhal, while promoting nourishing re-growth within various systems in the body. Mullein, represented with the fire elements, is the quintessential herb for healing respiratory conditions. Expectorant, demulcent, antiseptic, and antispasmodic, it clears chest congestion and inflammation in the lungs. Linden, represented with the air elements, has a lovely flavor with pacific properties. It is a cardio-tonic and nervine relaxant that supports blood vessel integrity, normalizes heart muscle conditions, soothes the respiratory system, and eases anxiety and nervous tension.
The herbs used in this tea were blessed by one of my herbal mentor’s Barbara Raab, and by her mentor Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, to create a hot-infused spring tea recipe, that was carefully crafted with mindful energy and solicitude. A hot infusion was chosen because it draws out vitamins, enzymes and aromatic volatile oils from the plants that work synergistically to heal and cherish. Please listen to your body, mind, soul and spirit when alchemizing and ingesting this tea blend and try to chose sustainable companies and businesses such as Mountain Rose Herbs or your local coop to purchase your bulk dried herbs from.
Awakening Spring Tea (yields about 8 cups)
- 1/2 tablespoon of dried nettle leaves
- 1/2 tablespoon of dried chickweed leaves
- 1 teaspoon of dried dandelion leaves
- 1 teaspoon of dried calendula flowers
- 1 teaspoon dried red clover flowers
- 1/2 teaspoon of dried mullein flowers
- 1/2 teaspoon of dried linden leaves
Additional Herb Options
- 1 teaspoon of goldenrod flowers (If you are especially prone to severe allergies with the blooming of spring)*
- 1/2 teaspoon of parsley leaves (If you are looking for more earth-based foliole nourishment)*
If possible, wildcrafted is even better than cultivated
Add 1 teaspoon of dried herbs (or 3 teaspoons of fresh herbs) to 1 cup of boiling water. To infuse the tea, put the herbs in a teapot or cup, using an infuser for easy removal. Pour boiling water over the herbs and allow the tea to steep covered for 5-10 minutes. Make sure to cover the teapot to keep the heat from dissipating. Then strain, serve and enjoy!
~ If you choose to use fresh herbs, use 3 times the amount of dried herbs in your tea blend. If harvesting yourself, make sure to give gratitude back to the earth and plants themselves. Please harvest with gentle love. The general rule of harvesting the aerial parts of plants is that they are best harvested during the peak sunlight hours. This will ensure all the dew has dissipated and the plants have had adequate time to soak up nourishment from the sun. However, if you are ever in doubt about the time to harvest, ask the plant yourself! ~
Tonic - strengthens specific organ or whole body
Anti-inflammatory - helps combat inflammation
Astringent - reduces flux of moisture and removes toxins
Diuretic - increases the elimination of urine
Emollient - soothes, softens and protects the skin
Carminative - soothes and settles digestive gut wall
Demulcent - soothes and shields irritated internal tissue
Expectorant - removes excess mucus from the lungs
Laxative - stimulates the bowels to promote movements
Vulnerary - highlights healing in wounds and inflammation
Alterative - restores health and vitality; blood cleanser
Anti-fungal - used for fungal infections
Emmangogue - stimulates menstrual flow and activity
Lympathic - influences cleansing in lympathic system
Anti-catarrhal - removes excess catarrhal build-ups
Antiseptic - inhibit growth of microorganisms to tissue
Anti-spasmodic - prevents or eases spasms or cramps
Cardio-tonic - beneficial action for the heart
Nervine - beneficial effects on the nervous system
This information is not a replacement for a trained herbalist. Please consult your medical professional before treating yourself or others with this or any other herbal remedy.
anti-catarrhal, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, diaphoretic, vulnerary
upper respiratory congestion
blamed for seasonal allergies like hay fever (fall especially), ragweed blooms the same time
- nutrient powerhouse
- vitamins and minerals, folic acid, beta-carotene, flavonoids, and antioxidants
- warming circulatory stimulant
- BEST AVOIDED BY PREGNANT WOMEN (can decrease breast milk production)
Molly Helfend, herbalist and environmental activist, graduated from University of Vermont in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies and a concentration in Holistic Health. She will be attending University of Kent in Canterbury, England to receive her Masters Degree in Ethnobotany in 2017. She has worked for Urban Moonshine, Greenpeace and received her training with Spoonful Herbals. Her goal is to receive her PHD and become a professor at University of California Santa Cruz. Molly resides in Monte Nido, California.