Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Custom Blending herbs, teas and spices is one of the many cool and creative things I get to do for The Herbal Sage Tea company. 

This week we began to harvest Spicebush Berry for a new custom blend. Spicebush   Lindera benzoin  also called wild allspice is an abundant understory plant in SE Ohio.


Years ago one of the old timers showed me how he and his family would harvest the twigs and soft branches during the fall season to  make a tea. He also would pick a few twigs and chew on them. Though I like the gentle spice from the branches of this plant, I prefer to harvest the berries, dry them, then add then to herb blends.
My current custom blend request is from Denison University located an hour or so north of The Herbal Sage Farms. They wanted a BIG RED blend, we'll also be adding our native Elderberry fruit to their blend , more on amazing elderberry next time!

I think these berries qualify for a BIG RED theme, don't you?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Winter Elderberry

Finally a reprieve in our winter storms, at least for a few hours. David and I have been checking on our young elderberry plants ( Sambucus canadensis) throughout these winter months and have a few images to share. For those of you familiar with Herbal sage Farms or have seen our talks at @MotherEarthNews these images will be more of an update.

Early summer 2013, we were able to harvest 80% of the mature rootstock from a local winery which was no longer going to grow elderberry for their wine. From the plants themselves we planted 139 cuttings. 
In the fall of 2013 we realized that we had a success rate on these starts of about 75%, which is quite good. As fall turned to winter, our protective fencing was not good enough to keep the deer out and we had plenty of deer damage. 

 The last image shows a start that had developed quite a number of buds before winter arrived and remained untouched by the deer. This will be our comparison start to see how the others do.

 Elder elderberry growers ( nice play on words, yes?) assured us that this damage would not affect the starts come spring 2014.These wise elders told us that elderberry is very hardy in this area and would recover by putting out plenty of new shoots as the warm weather arrives.

Stop back for updates, we'll keep you posted as the warm weather arrives...it will arrive won't it?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Planting for REAL

It's frustrating to me, as a formulator, when certain herbs are inaccessible. When formulating, I often create the blend in my mind initially, then work towards accessing specifics herbs and teas to create my finished project/product. I imagine what each herb will add to the recipe and which herb or herbs will help to make this new blend both effective and pleasant in taste.I dream big at these times.
Yet, I realize that this frustration is an example of my unwillingness, to realize at all times, that I am working with the natural world. I get wrapped up in the idea of what I want to make a certain blends.I often am asked "Why can't you just make such and such blend?", my answer is  "That plant is not available right now". Their questions  act as a reminder to me.The lack of understanding by many people is key here. I take time to explain that we do not work with flavorings, or artificial ( natural) ingredients, we cannot generate our ingredients by a whim. There are seasonal changes and many factors that relate to the unavailability of specific herbs.Loss of natural habitat, crop failure experienced by growers, natural resources that may make it unaffordable for herbs to be grown in a region where they once thrived. Many, many variables exist..
When I find myself wresting with  frustration, I am motivated to grow more of the herbs that I need.

The fact that were are losing plants at a record rate, encourages me to get busy, put seed and plants in the ground. Learn how to grow, harvest and create with those plants, that are grown by us, at Herbal Sage Farms. We cannot grow everything we use in our blends, but we can make a difference by growing those that we can.We can add to the plant population of our planet, not just glean from others.
Perhaps a field trip to the land would help folks understand the reality of REAL..
Real food, real plants, real herbs. REAL.TEA..
thanks for listening, time to water the seed beds and  get these plants ready to flourish!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Woodstock ,Jack Casady, Jefferson Airplane, Richie Havens and me

Today is one of those days when I realize the tapestry of life is woven deeply thru so many of us, connecting us in ways that we could have never imagined.

In my senior year at my hippie high school I was introduced to Richie Havens, his music, his poetry of song and sound was ever etched in my mind and heart. He embodied to me the essence of  a real man. His tonality struck me, his words moved me, how I heard him, in my own way, gave me hope. And I needed hope during those years, thank you for that Mr. Havens.
I also viewed the images from that famous event called Woodstock, for the first time during my  senior year. Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, Mountain, Janis Joplin, Joe Cocker, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Their  music, created a road to freedom for me. They fed into a sense of freedom that I longed for. I ate it up.
Many years later , I reflect on that freedom, the style of life that I led then, and the incredible need to be true to myself,  still year after year. By following my heart and lots of hard work I find myself full circle with a few of those individuals that gave me that sense of hope, thru their music, when I needed it most.
Jefferson Airplane, and in particular Jack Casady from the Jefferson Airplane band is a person who is currently woven into the tapestry of my life.
Organic full leaf green tea with chia for Jack Casady
I am working closely with Jack to create a custom Green Tea blend  specifically for his tastes.
Yes, that's true!
I met Jack thru his friend Jorma  Kaukonen years ago, down at Jorma's Fur Peace Ranch. Seems that music camp that Jorma and his wife built is close to Herbal Sage Farms...go figure.
Jack and I have worked on other organic tea blends and now I have the pleasure of creating another tea for him. Jack loves full leaf organic sencha green tea, I do too. It's a mild green tea, yet full bodied a with just the right amount of astringency. Jack is into chia seeds right  now, so I added some organic chia seeds with the sencha leaf. Its an amazing blend actually smooth tasting and very ,very healthy.

So we never know how things will work out, or how folks will work into our lives. I for one, feel blessed and grateful for this twist of fate.

Like Richie Havens who sang so often about Freedom, I feel  I can only be free when my heart is open to experience whatever it is that is put in front of me. How my life  has evolved to this place in time, where I can share my art of blending  with someone who shared their art of music, with me so many years ago, is a mystery to me.
All I can say is , YES, and clap my hands, clap my hands... RIP Richie Havens

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Athens Farmer Market

I have the honor of being on the Board for our Farmers Market here in Athens, Ohio. Our market is over 40 years in the making and I have been serving up my herbal brews as a vendor at the market for over 12 years.I was elected to the board last year and had to run again tonite.Ballots are being counted at one of our local brewery's... Jackie-O's, so we're not sure how it'll all turn out!

I decided to come home tonite and post to express how connected I feel with this wonderful town of Athens, Ohio. When moving to this region full time in the mid 1990's I had no idea how wonderful and rich my life could become. The hills that surround Athens and Meigs county are comforting, The folks in this area are interesting, creative, loving and quick to laugh. It seems as though many of us have come from other areas, yet were all drawn, for diffferent reasons to make a claim here.We now call this place home,
Check our our Athens Farmers Market website and see what some of the farmers and producers are up to. I'll let you know if I cleared the ballot count!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Traveling with my companion Gypsy Rue, is a bit like heaven on earth. Moving along the roads of America with my sometimes mellow, always curious 113 lb German Shepherd makes it all look so easy. With her by my side I dare to stop more, to explore new places, hidden and not so hidden places that catch my eye as I drive. When traveling alone the idea of stopping "anywhere" is just that, an idea.
We are heading south, chasing the warmer weather. Tonite,I called out to whomever was listening via my CB radio and asked for a "good" truckstop. A place where a soon to be weary, RV driving woman could rest. Quickly the reply came thru, mile marker 29South."That's a good place", the answer came in loud and clear over the speaker. Destination suggested by an anonymous fellow traveler. I answered back, "Well, I have this 113 pound German Shepherd to walk too", the voice committed again, " Yes, that's where you want to be". I took a deep breadth and relaxed a bit.Grateful for this new destination point,  I continued south, knowing rest was soon to be had.

The sunset softened and the sky turned deep pink, and the road became a bit easier, anxious thoughts of where will I stay meandered away. I had a place and it wasn't far . I asked for help , got an answer and made a decision. Soon I'd be cooking supper in the RV, walking the dog, then settling in for the night. The hum of the big rigs running down the highway, these folks, these drivers, are often my go to when I am sitting on the fence, of where to stop for the night.

Gypsy Rue and I have traveled many roads together, often times only once, if I let fear overtake me, the adventure becomes a chore, but when I take each mile in the moment, the adventure remains.
Thanks and see y'all on the road tomorrow~
Moe and Gypsy Rue

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Rosemary Gladstar, Herbalist and Friend

Last month I had the opportunity, again, to listen to my friend Rosemary Gladstar talk about using  herbs for nutrition and health. She was speaking at The Mother Earth News Fair and I was an exhibitor there.Rosemary is one of the matriarchs of the herbal world. She has been creating effective and great tasting herbal formulas for over 4 decades. I am honored to know her and feel blessed too, of having her support and encouragement over the years. Her belief in me, as I grew The Herbal Sage Tea Company,inspired me to become a better formulator. Rosemary has a great way of reaching out, she makes it look so easy! I was sent this prompt today, this is a new venue for Rosemary, using the Internet to share her story. Take a moment and join her, and I know you will enjoy her as much as I have over the years!
 Maureen and Rosemary a few years ago at
The New  England Womens Herbal Gathering