AUTUMN IS FOR TEA AND SITTING

The leaves of the weeping cherry tree in my front yard have stopped making their emerald food. They have let go of their branches. Or have their branches let go of them? It doesn't matter. Moon-yellow confetti drifts to the ferns and mosses below.

Other trees will follow suit soon. Summer's radiant greens are waning here in the northern hemisphere, in this small southern town. It's time. Less daylight, cooler temperatures.

But listen.

The warmth beneath the greens is nothing new. The russet, the sunrise, the marigold... those colors were there all along, simply waiting for their season to be seen. Did you know that? We have only to look out the window to take our queue from the world around us.

Autumn is a chance to gently release what you no longer need.

You might be surprised what sunrise has been sleeping inside of you

Golden cherry leaf
September sky

I recommend curling up with a mug of aromatic tea and... actually that's it.

Just pour a cup of fresh brewed tea. Sit somewhere comfortable. Outside, ideally. Breathe in the scent of your plant infusion. Take slow sips. And just... see what comes your way.

Read on for one of my personal favorite tea blends.


When I was a kid my dad brewed "Yogi Tea" every week. He boiled and steeped spices. Then he added milk and honey when it cooled just enough. He poured it into a mustard yellow pitcher that lived in the refrigerator. When you wanted a cup, you just poured one over ice (we lived in Florida ;)), or reheated it on the stove. Growing up I knew it as a delicious tonic from the Ayurveda tradition, like the ghee he also made. The spices blended together make a warming infusion that promotes healthy digestion. I was disappointed to learn, of course, that here in the west, pretty much every coffeeshop these days sells some sugary version of the blend: chai.

I would argue that making a pot of Yogi Tea from scratch at home is an entirely different experience. I recommend it.

My personal twist: since I like to drink herbal tea throughout my afternoon work day and into the evening, I usually leave out the traditional black tea and substitute whatever herb I'm feeling at the time. If you're new to blending and brewing fresh teas, this is an excellent recipe to learn with because for the core ingredients you'll make a decoction. Then, depending on what you decide to add, you'll make an infusion. Decoctions are simmered, and used for bark or roots or other tough spices that take longer to let loose their powers. Infusions, on the other hand, are simply steeped, and meant for lighter weight plant material like flowers and leaves.

Yogi tea and flowers

Your Own Yogi Tea

This recipe should make enough for a day or two of tea sipping.

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups filtered water

  • 15 cloves

  • 20 whole cardamom pods

  • 20 whole black peppercorns

  • 3 cinnamon sticks

  • several slices fresh ginger root

  • optional: pinch of licorice or anise for subtle sweetness

  • milk or milk substitute

  • honey

  • *optional additions to infuse - 5 tsp dried or 10 tbs fresh: tulsi, sage, peppermint, lemon balm, or lemon verbena.

Brewing instructions:

Pour 5 cups of cool, filtered water into a fitting pot. Add in cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger (plus licorice or anise if using). Bring to a boil, put the lid on, and reduce heat to a simmer for twenty minutes. Your decoction is finished. If you'd like, now turn the heat off and add your choice of additional herbs. Put the lid back on and let infuse for another twenty minutes (your infusion). Stir in your choice of milk and honey to taste. Strain, pour into an airtight vessel, and refrigerate what you don't drink right away.

Enjoy! And don’t forget to daydream.

*My favorite version is with tulsi/holy basil: it's an adaptogen that helps to reduce stress and increase clarity. Sage is also wonderful, as it is easy to find and it helps with digestion. A perfect after-dinner drink.