Seasons Change. Classic Drinks Do, Too. Beverage tips from the New York Times

Add tea to seasonal beverages this year. Read how the New York Times recommends adding tea to your hot toddy to add another layer of flavor. Or, go in another direction with a traditional mulled wine or cider.

Read this New York Times article to learn how seasonal drinks and tea come together:

Seasons Change. Classic Drinks Do, Too – The New York Times

Holy Basil: A Helpful Herb

Holy Basil/Tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum, and O. africanum), Lamiaceae (Mint) family 

According to plant expert Richo Cech of Strictly Medicinals, holy basil was first introduced into the US about 50 years ago. It was thought to have originated from India. Since, scientists using chrome spectrum genetic analysis, have found the introduced plant matched species originating from Africa, not India. Ayurveda (“the science of life” originating in India over 5,000 years ago) claims the herb as its own, however there are still lots of conflicting claims as to which continent the herb originated. The herb “holy basil” (also known as tulsi) (Occimum sanctum) and the culinary spice basil (Occimum basilicum) are indeed different plants with significant genetic differences, so don’t get confused! 

Four kinds of holy basil grown or imported in the US

Temperate Tulsi (Occimum africanum) is a self-seeding, short-season annual that matures quickly. This tulsi is a good one to cultivate in northern latitudes where it can grow at altitudes up to 6000ft and is harvestable at 40 days.

Vana Tulsi (Occimum gratissimum) is a temperate wild forest/bush/tree basil, native to east Africa containing a high quantity of euganol (oil of clove). 

Rama Tulsi (Occimum tenuiflorum) is green-leaved with a purple stem and is one of the tropical tulsis. The dried leaves make a very good tea which is primarily used for digestion. It grows 3’ high with stems about ½” thick.  

Krishna Tulsi (Occimum tenuiflorum) (Shyama- black, or Amrita tulsi, because it comes from Ama-chi’s ashram in the south of India) has dark purple leaves, purple stem and gets more purple as it grows. Used more for its detoxifying diaphoretic (warming) action, this variety can grow over 6’ tall and 5’ across with stems over 2” thick, essentially a small tree!

Many more varieties and hybrids of holy basil are found in India and worldwide but these are the four primarily used in teas. A blend of these holy basils along with butterfly pea flowers comprise Lake Missoula Tea Company’s Holy Butterfly Blend. Rich in flavor, it’s liquor is blue due to the butterfly pea flowers.

Good for the bees, too!

As a cultivated plant, holy basil is one of the best bee plants we can grow to bolster our native bee populations. Bees are drawn to the plant’s beautiful, tiny lavender blooms tightly displayed on linear spires. Holy basil also contains lots of triterpenoid compounds (essential oils) that help clean the beehive, dispel pathogens and limit mold. These compounds, which all holy basil varieties have, give the plant a unique clove-like and black pepper aroma. 

Holy basil as a medicinal herb

There are many other medicinal compounds found in holy basil that are beneficial to us as well as bees. As a medicinal herb, the basils, as a class, are stomachics (ease the digestion) and thus are helpful additives to foods or teas we consume (think basil in tomato sauce and salad dressings). As a tea herb, holy basil is kind to the stomach and helps balance and strengthen our digestive tract. Thus, holy basil is a great herb for including in a morning tea blend!

Oldest herbs in Ayurveda

In Ayurveda, holy basil is one of the oldest and most used herbs and provides the backbone of multiple treatments among Ayurvedic physicians. It is considered one of the three most sacred herbs of India, along with soma and lotus. Directly translated as “incomparable”, tulsi is referred to in ancient Ayurvedic texts as the “elixir of life”, and is thought to promote longevity. Holy basil is also thought to support the energy of attachment, which is the energy that draws prosperity near and keeps it in our lives. In addition, all basils are treated as heart exhilarants in Ayurveda and are used to increase joy and happiness.

Generally speaking, Ayurveda boasts holy basil as one of the best herbs to use for stress relief and anxiety disorders. Other traditional medicinal uses of holy basil include: relief of stress and anxiety, coughing, diarrhea, intestinal issues, fevers, arthritis, hiccups, skin conditions, malaria, diabetes, dementia, and acne. 

Recent studies on holy basil

Recent scientific research has tested these age-old uses for holy basil and determined that the plant extract does have multiple therapeutic actions, including adaptogenic (read about adaptogens further down in our blog), antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, cardioprotective, and immunomodulatory effects. Serious attention is being given to its potential use in several conditions, like treating diabetes, normalizing blood sugar and blood fats, like cholesterol and triglycerides, and helping with cardiovascular diseases. Holy basil has also been shown to decrease shortness of breath and bronchospasm in asthma patients, kill microbes including bacteria and fungi, and stimulate the immune system. These studies have validated its historic use and continue to demonstrate the health benefits of this ancient herb. 

For more information on Holy Basil, click on our reference links listed below!

American Botanical Council review on Holy Basil  |  Holy Basil as an Immune Booster  |  Basil: A Brief Summary of Potential Health Benefits

Holy Basil Reference  |   Tulsi – Ocimum Sanctum: A Herb for All Reasons

Written by

Greta de la Montagne, RH (Registered Herbalist), AHG (American Herbalists Guild), and Lake Missoula’s herbalist consultant and blogger, edited by Boo Curry.

Keep it Chill with Chilled Tea!

As summer reaches it pinnacle, we all strive to get outside and make the most of the warm time remaining at the northern latitudes. One great way to simultaneously fuel your sunny, outdoor activities while cooling off, no matter where you are, is to reach for your favorite chilled tea! Chilled tea is a perfect for picnics, long bike rides, rafting and camping trips, and almost any of life’s adventures. Just as beer or wine pairs wonderfully with food, tea can be the perfect companion to your various endeavors. We share great pairings to jog your thinking about the versatility of chilled tea.

Enjoy strenuous activities like mountain biking, long hikes, climbs, or play on a sports team? We recommend chilling green tea to boost your endurance and energy levels. Our favorite enlivening green teas to chill include:

Moroccan Mint  | Sprinter’s Spritzer  | Jurasic Ginger Green  | Saber Tooth Green

All our greens are blended with premium green tea and contain plenty of antioxidants and caffeine to get you up and keep you moving! Along with refreshing botanicals to create revitalizing and harmoniously hydrating drinks, these green teas invigorate.

Lounging on a raft, at the beach, in your backyard, or strolling the farmer’s market? We prefer green blends with fruit tones:

Green Tea Colada with lemon, mango and coconut flavors! | Sakura Cherry | Apricot Green | Para-Sara Peach | Rainforest Fruit Green

Oolongs and Rooibos crowd favorites to include in your chilled tea arsenal:

Jasmine Orange Melange blend of green, white, and rooibos balanced with bright orange notes | Strawberries ‘n Cream OolongCitron Oolong

Admire and crave deep and bold black teas? Drinking chilled black tea can be a monumental part of your day and loved ritual. Try chilled black tea when waking up as a cold brew coffee alternative. Or drink it throughout the day while working from home or reading a good book. Black tea has a myriad of polyphenols, which may aide gut and heart health. It’s high in caffeine, keeping you focused and motivated. Chilled black teas make great Arnold Palmers (a mix of tea and lemonade) for afternoon get-togethers or a non-alcoholic beverage option at a BBQ! Our favorite chilled black teas are:

Birdsong BlackMammoth Red  Sunshine Daydream | Mango Love Not War | Creamsicle Crush

Last but certainly not least, take time for chilled herbal or botanical tea! Botanicals help us chill out (since they usually lack caffeine), and we can all use some down time once and a while. Bring a good botanical chilled tea to an outdoor movie, enjoy it on an evening walk, or offer it up at a backyard hangout as an alcohol alternative. A concentrated botanical infusion can also be a fun ingredient in cocktails or mocktails. The health benefits of drinking herbal infusions are vast (depending on the herb of course), so pick a tea that calls to you:

A few of my Favorite ThingsUplift both light, refreshin, and may help digest after dinner | Skin Glow, Sweet Rhapsody ‘n RoseWho Chic all wonderful stand-alone chilled teas, while Spicy Ginger SnapPleistocene Peach are fun to add to other drinks.

The possibilities are truly endless with chilled tea. Like most blogs, this is meant to get you thinking! For any tea novice OR enthusiast, chilled tea is a great way to enjoy teas you already like, or a good time to try something new. Really love a certain tea?  Try it cold and see how the flavor changes. Whether you want to cool down during your summer activities or amp up your afternoon relaxation, there is a chilled tea for every occasion!

written by Boo Curry