On New Year's eve, we stayed in and had sushi with Japanese whisky mixed with coconut water, watched two episodes of Black Mirror over popcorn and ice cream, and fell asleep at 11.30pm. The next day, we woke up without a hangover nor that feeling of regret in the pit of our stomachs. It was the best countdown ever, and the most obvious sign of um, graceful aging.
Another day, another year. 2017 is here. I slept through its arrival, but I have a whole year to catch up so I'm not going to worry too much about it. Around the same time last year, I was standing on an old wooden ladder to put a fresh coat of paint on our kitchen walls. This year, on the first day of the new year, I was standing in the same kitchen making a cup of Gratitude Tea and counting my blessings.
2016 was an interesting year and if I had to describe how the year felt to me, I'd have to say it was like a long-distance running race with an unspecified destination. I knew I needed to get somewhere but I wasn't sure where, so I just kept running. Away or to, I couldn't say. I just had to be running.
As I poured boiling water onto a dried holy basil and rose petal mixture, I thought to myself maybe it was time to slow down and, well, smell the rose tea. I detected a sweet floral whiff from the rose petals and the holy basil gave it a pungent aroma that was both zesty and grassy. The tea itself was refreshing yet soothing and provided a sense of "ahhh" in every sip.
The recipe for this simple two-ingredient tea came from The Healing Kitchen: Cooking with Nourishing Herbs for Health, Wellness, and Vitality by traditional herbalist Holly Bellebuono. Named Gratitude Tea in the book, it is "particularly wonderful for easing stress or when you feel you need to take a deep breath."
Holy Basil, also known as tulsi or tulasi, is an herb believed in Ayurvedic medicine "to support rejuvenation and the building up of strength", just what I needed after that long albeit figurative run of 2016. Rose petals, according to the book, have been traditionally used to ease depression, anxiety, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and grief. I'd say they work on an ailing spirit too.
For me in California, winter is a time for renewal, especially for the body, and I'm glad to have the building-block recipes in this book to guide me along. Here's a cuppa for a happy and healing new year!
For more Winter Renewal recipes, click here. Sign up for personalized email updates and let's connect on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest.
Gratitude Tea (Holy Basil and Rose Tea)
Adapted from The Healing Kitchen by Holly Bellebuono. A simple tea for stress support using the healing qualities of holy basil and rose petals. Just as good as it is or sweetened with honey or agave nectar. If you're in the SF Bay Area, the Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco is where I go to get my herbs. You can also order them online from reputable sources like Mountain Rose Herbs. This recipe makes 3 to 4 cups and can be transferred into an insulating flask to be enjoyed throughout the day. Alternatively, half the recipe for a smaller serving.
4 teaspoons dried holy basil
2 teaspoons crumbled dried rose petals
3 to 4 cups boiling water
Honey or agave nectar, to taste (optional)
In a 1-quart glass jar, combine the dried holy basil and dried rose petals. Then add enough boiling water to fill the jar. Cover the jar tightly and let steep for 8 to 12 minutes. Strain the hot tea and serve with honey to taste.
TIP: To make a bedtime tea known as Nice Nerves Tea in the book, add 2 teaspoons of dried chamomile flowers to the recipe.