“Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.”
I recently started a new job that allows me to work with food in a setting that is steeped in art, nature, and history. I consider myself extremely lucky to be at a location that could not be better suited for my personal interests. Everywhere I turn there is something of beauty to be seen and enjoyed, new unexplored corners to be discovered, and so much history and art to take in, question, and ponder. I enjoy what I do, where I work, and who I work with. So when work hours creep into overtime I don’t usually mind, so long as I am developing useful skills and learning about things I care about. There are also tons of deadlines to meet and planning to be done, and I feel less stressed knowing I’ve given my 110%.
With this kind of mindset I must repeatedly force myself to take a step back so I don’t burn out. I try to remember that what I do isn’t that serious. Don’t get me wrong, I take my job very seriously. But I’m not saving anyone’s life or finding the cure for cancer. Work is not everything. I think you should always do your best, but don’t lose track of what you’re working for.
Creative outlets relieve stress from my workaholic tendencies. It helps being able to turn my brain off from thinking about anything beyond of what’s right in front of me. Making art puts me in that trance, that state of flow. Certain kinds of cooking force me to stop and focus my attention. Photography and editing do this as well. Getting sucked into the simple act of doing something has always had the most revitalizing effect on me; more so than experiencing novel things without meaning or collecting stuff.
I recently purchased some small herb plants from the local farmers market because I realized I was spending just as much money buying the cuttings every week. I’ve never considered myself a gardener (it’s challenging in an apartment with no balcony), but modest success with succulents gave me confidence that day.
I now have chocolate mint, silver thyme, lemon balm, and stevia growing in my kitchen. There are also some flowering Thai basil cuttings on my kitchen table that I am trying to root as well. Watering, trimming, and observing them grow has been deeply satisfying. Spotting tiny new leaves sprout is always a little surprising to me. I look at them with pride thinking to myself “yes, you haven’t killed them all yet!”
Now that I work so close to home (15 minutes away, guys!) I have more time in the mornings to eat breakfast, wake up my brain, sit, relax, and start to plan out the day’s priorities. With all my new herb babies and the extra time in the morning, I’ve developed a habit of making tisane at least once a day.
Similar to finding a state of flow, there’s something really rejuvenating about this ritual. Picking the leaves, feeling them break apart in my fingers, watching the water slowly turn bright green to yellow, smelling the fresh scent of the herbs carried in the wafting steam, and tasting all the flavors in every warm sip has this weirdly exciting yet calming effect.
It forces me into that moment of simple enjoyment. The resulting stress-free happiness is what I like to think of as the joy in doing absolutely nothing.
Most “herbal teas” are tisanes, and not “tea” at all, unless they contain tea leaves. I make my tisane with a blend of dried rose petals, lavender, and chamomile; fresh thyme, lemon balm and mint; and a few fresh basil and cilantro flowers; a sliver of fresh lemon, and a few drops of honey. You’ll notice herb flowers have a more subdued flavor than the leaves, but add a nice aromatic quality to your tisanes.
There aren’t any tried and true recipes, so you should adjust the mix and quantity of each ingredient to your personal preferences. Other ingredients well-suited for tisanes include peppermint, lemongrass, ginger, verbena, rose hips, hibiscus, dried fruit, and whole spices. So don’t be afraid to be adventurous!
I stick to about a tablespoon of crushed leaves for every two cups.
First, break apart the leaves to easily release their essential oils and nutrients, placing them with the dried herbs, flowers, and spices in a small strip of cheese cloth or tea infuser.
Tie up the cheese cloth or secure the infuser, then steep in boiled water for up to 15 minutes. The water will start to turn bright green. Mine turns from green to yellow, depending on what is in it. You can’t over-steep a tisane, which is great because you can just leave the blend in your pot and simply enjoy sipping on your drink.
Place lemon sliver and honey in a cup, pour tisane over it, and enjoy!
If you make your own tisanes please share your favorite ingredients as I’d love to try new blends. Here’s to finding your own moments of bliss!