The Life Rituals Journey

Herbal and caffeinated tea blends that can be enjoyed year-round. Jo George Herbalist and founder of Life Rituals Teas tells us more about her personal herbal journey and tips for tea blending.

Photograph of Life Rituals founder Jo George

What inspired you to create Life Ritual Organic Teas?

I have been an acupuncturist and Chinese herbal practitioner for 18 years health and healing have always been my passion. For myself, an essential part of being an herbalist is that you are always looking for new ways to get the word out about herbs and an extension of that is therapeutic possibilities of herbal teas. It is important for people to have access to both good quality herbs and the knowledge of how to use them effectively. Making the teas is a way for me to share my knowledge and inspire as many people as possible to give therapeutic herbal teas a try, without necessarily seeing me in a clinical context. The better we can take responsibility for our own health and actions the more connection we will feel to the world around us.

How did you become a master herbalist?

Like many practitioners do, I found ‘acupuncture’ following disillusionment with western medicine for my own personal health problems at the time. My initial degree level training allowed me to delve into the rich history of Chinese Medicine, which has many thousands of years of observation and study that is well documented. It opened up a whole new way of thinking and living for me.
I was actually inspired to embark on studying Chinese herbal medicine after a hospital study trip to Hangzhou China and one to Australia where I saw Chinese Medicine in a fully integrated healthcare system; That is TCM hospitals with departments of acupuncture, massage and western medicine. This means that TCM Doctors can use all the diagnostic capabilities of modern medicine including pharmaceutical drugs when appropriate. Very inspiring after just graduating my degree.

Human physiology is fascinating and we have so many different ways to approach the depths of what it means to be a balanced human. I am constantly studying the ecology of the body and investigating how it changes. Following that first study trip to China I returned to London and studied for a further two years on a Post Graduate Degree course (Westminster Uni) in Chinese Herbal Medicine, gaining a first class distinction. It was during this time I spent one-months clinical training in Australia with Jane Lyttleton and Steven Clavey who specialise in Chinese Gynaecology and Infertility. I have had been very lucky to have had some very good teachers, some who now are living through their books and others throughout our evolutionary herbal history.

I couldn’t wait to return to China again, and after another study trip, I achieved a distinction for my Master of Science (MSc) in Chinese Herbal Medicine in which I investigated the efficacy of Chinese herbs for male infertility. My experience and education in Traditional Chinese Herbal medicine, and 18 years of clinical practice have given me a great foundation for understanding the chemistry of plants and how they influence the balance of our physiology and for the creation of Life Ritual Organic Teas.

What are some of your favourite Life Ritual tea Blends?

I heavily rely on Protection Ritual Tea and Energising Tea. The Digestiv Ritual Tea just tastes delicious and feels so comforting in the evening after your meal. It is both soothing and uplifting.

What is a great Life Ritual Tea blend to enjoy in the morning? And in the evening?

I drink a tea with tulsi just about every morning. My brain and nervous system feel really healthy when I consistently drink tulsi instead of caffeinated beverages. Our Energising tea is so uplifting, I sip away whilst I’m working too.

In the evening I am a huge fan of valerian which is in our Bedtime Ritual Tea. If I’m suffering from a busy mind, valerian is a huge help; It reminds my mind to relax.

How do you source your herbs?

We use several suppliers that have proven long term relationships producers or producer groups and provide them with support and incentives to enable them to grow and harvest the highest quality products. All too often primary producers have very little bargaining power and costs come down supply chains, whilst profits flow up them. Our herbal suppliers do not – under any circumstances – drive the price down when we are working with producers directly or producer groups in the developing world.

Our suppliers also insist on the highest levels of organic integrity and they are achieved by regular supplier visits . In addition, all our suppliers growers are approved by certification bodies who comply with the highest accreditation standards and are approved under EU organic regulations 834/2007 and 889/2008 annexes III and IV.

In addition to this overall approach, our suppliers are independently certified to the Fairtrade, FairWild and Fair for Life standards.

Is it better to use fresh herbs or dry herbs?

I do not think one is better than the other.

Fresh herbs are great to use when they are available. The window for using fresh herbs in tea is very narrow in much of the country. Some herbs such as chamomile are only in their flowering stage for a few weeks in July/August. So during that time drink as much fresh chamomile tea as you want, but once it goes to seed you can start using the dried form.

Dried herbs make sense for long-term storage and use. Most of the time I use dried herbs for the Life Ritual teas. Dried herbs, when the plants have been grown, harvested, and dried well, are nearly as potent as when the herb was fresh. Dried herbs can be used all year round and store well so for tonic blends or teas you want to drink regularly I suggest keeping dried herbs.

What tools does a beginner need to begin blending herbal teas?

To make your own tea blend you need a few basic pieces of equipment: two mixing bowls, a digital scale, bulk herbs, or even herbs you’ve grown and a recipe. That’s it! If you are formulating your own blend then I suggest a notebook to write all your ideas and efforts down.

What are your top tips for someone who is new to blending tea?

There is nothing forbidding about making tea. It is fun, creative, and exciting. Start with plants that smell, or look appealing often people know which tastes they like – then experiment.