Fermentation

Fermented Foods – Looking After Your Digestive System

The way that food is produced together with the changes of behaviour around cooking and eating, have profoundly altered meal times. Often we are too rushed to think about the consequences of what and how we are eating.

Recent cutting edge Western research has given Traditional Chinese medicine a new perspective on thousands of years of ancient wisdom. We now know that the origins of many diseases are in the gut and in today’s world we can no longer ignore the effects of superbugs (anti-biotic resistant), toxic foods, and changing lifestyles.

The digestive system in Chinese medicine has always been seen for centuries as a vital key in treating many health disorders, now we have the evidence. The gut is at the centre of the development of complex modern illnesses such as autoimmune diseases, AIDS, chronic allergies, leaky gut syndrome and food sensitivities. Together with digestive imbalances such as IBS, constipation, heartburn, reflux, Crohns Disease, and Celiac Disease, to name a handful.

Kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut, miso and kefir – all fermented foods and drinks – have been around for centuries, but suddenly they are all the rage. The reason? They are supposedly packed full of gut-healthy microorganisms, and we are finally waking up to the trillions of microorganisms that live in our guts (AKA the gut microbiome).

Harbouring a flourishing gut flora has been linked to lower obesity, fewer autoimmune conditions and digestion problems, longer lifespan, and good brain function. Read on to find out how to improve yours…

Make & Eat Probiotic Foods Daily

Kefir is one of the highest probiotic foods you can eat to support our guts ‘microbiome ‘- our personal mix of gut bacteria – and homemade kefir far outranks any store-bought variety. Current research supports the use of Kephir daily to improve IBS and digestive issues, mood and energy levels and to dampens down inflammation throughout the body, such as in allergic skin conditions like excaema. It also boosts immunity which can impact the state of your daily life and health dramatically.

Kefir is made using starter “grains,” which in reality are a combination of bacteria and yeasts that interact with the milk to make the lightly fermented drink that even lactose intolerant people can drink! It can be made from any source of milk, such as goat, sheep, cow, soy, rice or coconut. It can even be made using coconut water. kefir is a probiotic food that contains many bioactive compounds, including as many as 30 strains of good bacteria that help fight against ill health and disease.

Life Rituals Kefir Making Kits are easy to use and perfect to brew your own PRO BIOTIC DRINK milk kefir and water kefir. The kit combines a specifically designed glass jar, with swizzle stick, and printed booklet with 30+ recipes and squeezer to get you started making your own pro – biotic drink.

The Kefhir Making Kit has been specifically designed to make home kefir making as simple as possible. Simply add kefir grains and your liquid of choice (milk or sugar water).

 

Kephir Making Kit

Eat Fermented Foods – Kimchi, Sauerkraut – Daily

Fermented foods, have finally started to get the mass media attention they deserve. We are very excited because we’ve got our hands on some Fermenting Starter Kits. The kit is a great way to get started and takes the ‘fear’ out of the fermentation process…..zero maintenance.

The live bacteria or probiotics contained in fermented foods are certainly great for our digestive tracts – they restore the proper balance of bacteria in gut (diminished from years of gobbling antibiotic drugs and chlorine-laced tap water); are rich in enzymes, vitamins and nutrients; and because they’re already breaking down, ferments are easier to digest and help the digestive system run much more smoothly. In that respect, eating fermented foods is a bit like having an oil change for your stomach. You can create all kinds of fermented foods from kimchi to sauerkraut with our starter kits.

Let’s start with one of the easiest recipes to make with the starter kit; Kimchi; Its packed full of antioxidants and has 1000 times more lactobacillus than yogurt so it’s amazing for your gut and digestion; Many Koreans credit kimchi for their long lives and statistically, Koreans boast one of the lowest cancer rates in the world. Baechu, or napa cabbage, kimchi is made by lacto-fermentation, the same process that creates sauerkraut and traditional dill pickles. In the first stage, the cabbage is soaked in a salty brine that kills off harmful bacteria. In the second stage, the remaining Lactobacillus bacteria (the good guys!) convert sugars into lactic acid, which preserves the vegetables and gives them that wonderful, tangy flavour.

Kimchi with our starter kit

Simply shred a napa cabbage, add chilli (we used Korean Choripdong Red Pepper Powder for Kimchi (Coarse) , garlic, ginger, scallions, brine (salt & water), fish sauce to flavour. Next we pushed down in the jar so it’s covered, then … now we leave it out for a month. The one-way valve allows CO2 to escape, while preventing oxygen and contaminants from reaching the cabbage, so it can’t mould. The flip–top lid makes the jar really makes it zero-maintenance – there’s no daily “burping” and you can easily unscrew and test for taste; when it’s tangy enough, push the lid down and refrigerate.

The kimchi keeps for a year – start eating it every day!

Fermenting kit

**Fermenting Kit Includes: Silver Wide reCAP POUR Cap, 24 ounce Mason Jar, reCAP Fermenter (waterless airlock + stopper), 4 ounce Mason Jar Weight, 2.5 ounce packet of Himalayan Pink Salt, instruction guide and 3 recipes for beginners (Ginger Carrots, Hot Sauce, & Salsa) + free download to eBook with 9 unique fermentation recipes!

Feed Your Gut Biome with Pre Biotic Food

If you were to view your microbiome as a garden, fibre would be your fertiliser. Foods containing the best fibre types for your microbes are called prebiotic foods which include artichokes, jerusalem artichokes, leeks, celery, chicory, onions and garlic. Variety is the top priority – the person who eats more diversity of plants in a week is the key…eating a rich diversity of food with occasional meat. This could just as easily be a way of describing the Mediterranean diet, with its kaleidoscope of fruit, veg, nuts, grains and legumes.

If you are inspired to consume more fibre, it’s best to start slowly especially if you have digestive problems – or you could end up with uncomfortable bloating and wind. Each gut is unique and one diet doesn’t fit all, so if you change your eating habits to no avail, try something else. You are on the right track, if you notice a change in your bowel habit. After a couple of days, your stools will get softer and you’ll be going more regularly. That’s a sign your microbes have changed for the better, and though they are working harder, they are happier.

Drink more Green Tea

One of the most exciting things about green tea is that its antimicrobial activities appear to be highly selective—so it goes after undesirable organisms, while leaving beneficial flora unscathed ! A number of studies have been undertaken to determine how green tea affects the gut, and the results either showed no harmful change, or that microbial composition was significantly improved with increased numbers of desirable species, including Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus.

One important reason green tea may help boost probiotic numbers (in addition to antimicrobial selectivity) is that it turns out to be an effective prebiotic—providing the perfect nutrition for your good bacteria to thrive. Green tea lets you enjoy the best of both worlds—supporting the good guys in your microbial community, while eating rid of the other unwanted bacterias.

We use Sencha Organic Green Tea in our Energising Ritual Tea combined with other carefully selected ingredients to help keep your mind and senses sharp and operating at optimum levels during stressful periods. Apart from the ‘super’ anti-oxident green tea, there are other reasons why this blend supports adrenal health and calms the nervous system, making it beneficial for alleviating stress in people who feel strung-out, and exhausted at the same time.

Fermented book

So, hopefully inspired to make your own probiotic food and drink we highly recommend the book Fermented with delicious recipes that are easily achievable at home. Chapters covering fruit and vegetables, milk, pulses, sourdough baking and drinks will introduce you to unique new flavours as well as traditional fermented vegetables such as German Sauerkraut and Korean Kimchi.  The author Charlotte Pike is a UK based food writer. Charlotte’s recipes are simple, delicious and really work.

 

Fermented book

 

And Finally Relax

Your digestion begins when our body is anticipating food. The smell and sight of food activate our salivary glands and prepare the pancreas to release digestive enzymes. Digestion is facilitated by the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system is activated by relaxation, the sympathetic by action. When we eat food ‘on the run’ or come to the table stressed the sympathetic nervous system is dominant and energy and blood are shunted away from the digestive system toward the brain and muscles. Eating in a relaxed state benefits digestion, if we eat mindfully, savouring and appreciating our food, we notice when we are full.

Relaxation can also include attending to posture. If we eat slumped in an armchair or lying down we can interfere with the simple mechanics of digestion. The digestive organs don’t like to be compressed.

In Chinese medicine we understand that emotions and states of mind impact our Qi. Worry, the emotion associated with our digestive system, binds the Qi. This manifests as tension in the digestive system and inhibits our ability to digest information or emotions and indeed our food. Anger causes our Qi to rise. As digestion requires downward movement Chinese medicine eating when angry is not good for you.

Bon appetite…

 

Prevention for the Common Cold

Prevention for the Common Cold

Prevention is always better than cure, these simple steps will help keep you well over the winter months.

Prevention for common cold

  • Stay warm and protect yourself from cold and wind. Its important to keep the chest, lower back, feet, head and nape of the neck well covered. Remember to dress warmly when outside and wear a scarf – Wearing a scarf helps to protect the body from catching a chill. The back of the neck area in Chinese Medicine is called the ‘gate of wind’. By protecting the neck from draughts you reduce your risk of catching a cold from the cool air.
  • Include plenty of organic bone broth into your diet
  •  Include plenty of fermented foods and drink in your daily diet – the best quality is your own home made kind – easy to make Fermented food and Kefir making kits will get your started. These help to keep your gut in good health and prevent chronic immune dysfunction. Research shows probiotics help boost immune system and preventing cold and flus. Probiotic foods include fermented vegetables, kefir yoghurt and kombucha tea.

Fermented Kimchi

Fermented Kimchi

  • Have a warm breakfast – Winter is the perfect season for porridge. Having a warm bowl on a cold morning isn’t just a delicious way to start your day, it can also help boost your intake of fibre. It also contains many vitamins and minerals.

Life Rituals Teas contain immune boosting adaptogens

Life Rituals Teas

  • Take Adaptogens Cold and flu season starts its attack as soon as the temperatures begin to drop. During this time you’ll want to bring in extra immune support. Astragalus is an antibacterial and antiviral root adaptogen that can boost immune-regulating T-cells. Keep this with you to ward off any sniffles that start to creep up. For a daily adaptogen boost drink Energising Ritual Tea; Protection Ritual Tea or Eight Treasures Vitality Ritual and Daytime Calm Ritual teas.
  • Check your Vit D status – During winter we are exposed to the sun much less and our Vitamin D levels can suffer. Vitamin D is important for strengthening our immune system, and helping with mood and bone health. Foods rich in Vitamin D include fatty fish, mushrooms, eggs, soy milk. It is recommended you take a Vitamin D supplement with at least 1000 IU for good immune health daily. It is great at regulating mood and reducing depression symptoms. Those with sub-optimal levels of Vitamin D have significantly increased levels of anxiety, stress and depression. We recommend a Vit D Spray for better absorption.
  • Take Multivitamins which have many health benefits. In the short term they can increase energy, reduce stress, help fight infections. Long term they can benefit our immunity and health. Winter is most vital time for multivitamins. We recommend Biocare Methyl Multi Nutrient.
  • Getting plenty of sleep is important to avoid your body getting ill in winter. During sleep our immune system regenerates and repairs the body. Natural hormones such as melatonin is released at night and helps to encourage sleep and support immunity. Those that sleep less than 7 hours a night are 3 times more likely to get sick and catch the cold than those who slept more than 8 hours. Aim to be in bed and asleep by 10pm at the latest. Don’t let yourself get run down. If you find it hard to sleep or have chronic insomnia get some acupuncture treatment and try bedtime ritual tea to help you sleep naturally.
  • Minimise spread by washing your hands more.
  • Take Chinese Herbs and get Acupuncture.

Getting plenty of sleep

  • Eat warm cooked foods, avoid raw cold foods like Salads. Warming foods help warm the body, expel cold and increase circulation. Eat more winter vegetables and soups such as carrots, parsnips, pumpkin and turnips. Use cooking methods such as roasting, mash or soups for a comforting winter meal. Have more ginseng, ginger, cinnamon and gou qi berries.
  • Exercise More – Just because it is winter, doesn’t mean we can avoid exercise. It can help stop you from catching the winter bug. Exercising regularly can help your body flush bacteria and waste from the body through the lungs via sweating. The reduces your chances of developing colds and coughs. The key is exercise regularly at moderate intensity and if you are outdoors in the chilly air, remember to rug up.
  • Drink Warm Liquids such as soups, tea and water. Avoid anything too cold as it can make you cough and it not as nourishing as warm liquids. Make it a priority to drink a glass of warm lemon water before breakfast. This helps to eliminate toxins, clear your system and increase digestive function better.
  • Increase Vitamin C is great to help prevent colds and flus and increase our immune system. It reduces acidity in the body, and is an anti-bacterial. Make sure you get enough vitamin C in your diet, you can do this with food and drink – try Protection Ritual; Cleanse and Detox Ritual; or Unwind and Uplift Ritual Teas which are all packed full of high content organic Vit C ingredients. We also recommend taking a Vit C supplement.

If you are suffering from a cold or flu this winter or have extremely cold hands and feet, acupuncture and Chinese medicine are great to treat your winter cold. To find our more contact us for information.

Alternatives to HRT – The role of Adaptogen Chinese herbal teas in Perimenopause and Menopause

The biggest ever study published in August 2017 shows that HRT triples the risk of breast cancer. Following more than a decade of controversy about HRT, the study by the Institute of Cancer Research and Breast Cancer shows that some previous studies underestimated the risk of breast cancer with combined oestrogen-progestogen HRT.

The study of 100,000 women over 40 years found those who took the combined oestrogen and progestogen pill for around five years were 2.7 times more likely to develop cancer compared to women who took nothing, or only the oestrogen pill. The risk rose to 3.3 times for women who took the drugs for 15 years or more. Around 14 in 1,000 women in their 50s are expected to develop breast cancer, but that rises to 34 in 1000 for women taking the combined pill, the study suggests.

Life Rituals Chinese herbalist and acupuncturist Jo George, talks about the alternatives to HRT and the role of Adaptogen Chinese herbs in Peri-menopause and Menopause, and how using Life Rituals Organic Herbal Teas Daytime Calm, Eight Treasures Vitality  and Bedtime Ritual can help ease symptoms.

She says ‘Women are socialised to be the caretakers of others. More women than men have both a career outside the home and continue to try to juggle traditional responsibilities after hours. In fact, over 70 per cent of married women with children under the age of 18 are employed outside the home. Women are often known as “multi-taskers’ — struggling to balance a career with the role as ‘perfect’ wife and mother at home. Women face these stressors on a daily basis, as well as lack of physical exercise, insufficient rest, poor diet, environmental toxins, electromagnetic radiation, which all undermine the adrenal, hormonal and stress regulating systems at a critical time of change.’

Jo explains further “One of the important factors for a woman during “The Change” is the health of her adrenal glands, yet we hear very little about it. During peri-menopause, when our ovaries decrease their production of estrogen and progesterone, our adrenals are part of a back-up system for us, making smaller but steady amounts of these hormones. They also regulate minerals in the body, aid in digestion, and work with the thyroid to maintain energy levels. The adrenals are commonly known as our “stress glands” because they release hormones including adrenaline in response to stress. What my patients see and hear about peri-menopause and menopause often focuses solely on estrogen “deficiency,” while adrenals are ignored.”

So, what effect does this have on the peri- menopause and menopause?

Jo George says “A lot – for one thing, many of the symptoms of adrenal burnout are the same ones often attributed to menopause itself: high blood pressure, dizziness, headaches, sleep- disturbances, joint aches and pains, overwhelming fatigue, and mood disorders.

For another, if the adrenals aren’t functioning properly they will be unable to do their part in making the replacement hormones our bodies need to compensate for the ovaries’ decreased output. Therefore, supporting and protecting the adrenals is a major part of my treatment approach as a practitioner of (TCM) Traditional Chinese Medicine; This approach is the most successful when my patients ask for support in coming off of HRT and want to stabilise their bodies whilst they withdraw the drug” sense of well-being.

Listen to Jo’s patient as she discusses her experience of using acupuncture and herbal medicine for joint and muscle pain, and how it helped her get off of HRT medication and cope with night sweats. For her sleepless nights she used Jo’s unique herbal tea Life Rituals Organic Bedtime Tea

Jo George goes on to explain “When we’re under stress (including the stress of peri-menopause), our nutritional needs dramatically increase, and the adrenal glands need higher concentrations of key elements to function. Diets high in refined foods like white flour products and sugar take nutrients away from us. Products containing caffeine like coffee, teas, chocolate have the same effect, as does alcohol. When we eat these foods we are not only depriving our bodies of nutrients that we should be getting from our food, but we are also adding yet another stress to the system, further contributing to adrenal burnout. 

Premenstrual syndrome and peri- menopause are their own kind of stress on the system and many women find their threshold of tolerating stress decreases and fatigue can result. Fluctuations in estrogen, progesterone, cortisol and thyroid interact with brain neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, GABA and therefore can cause depression and high anxiety. Astralagus an adaptogen therefore is used commonly in Chinese medicine as a beneficial herb to restore vitality in women who are chronically fatigued or who have decreased mental and physical performance and/or stamina and decrease anxiety. A simple way to incorporate Adaptogens into daily life is by drinking Life Rituals Daytime Calm or Life Rituals Eight Treasures Vitality Tea . Adaptogenic herbs are one of the most important groups of herbs to take into the 21st century, and have been used for centuries by Chinese medicine. Adaptogens not only increase the resistance to the adverse effects of long-term stress but the majority  their ‘adapting affect’ on the adrenals is also known to boost the immune system, and help fight infections.

Finally, Jo George says “We need to put all this into a bigger picture which involves getting enough sleep and enough relaxation and down time during the day. It is during these times that the adrenals restore themselves. Regular exercise is also important for glandular health, as well as simplifying our lives to make them less stressful. The humble cuppa also should not be underestimated especially when designed to restore balance to the overworked adrenals”

Try these Herbal Tea Blends for Menopause:

Life Rituals Daytime CalmBedtime Ritual and Eight Treasures Vitality or contact Jo for a acupuncture and herb consultation.

Let’s Talk Green Tea and its Health Benefits

The Incredible Health Benefits of Herbal and Green Tea in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine is well documented, and thought to assist in the cure of and recovery from many illnesses.

Legendary Japanese Zen priest Eisai wrote one of the oldest tea books, ‘Kissa Yojoki’ (Book of tea) – How to stay healthy by drinking tea (1191). This two volume book explains the health benefits of drinking green tea and its positive effect on the five vital organs, in particular the heart. It also explained the medicinal uses of tea including treating indigestion, preventing fatigue, boosting brain function, and acting as a stimulant. The ultimate tea lover Eisai said: 

‘Tea is the ultimate mental and medical remedy and has the ability to make one’s life more full and complete’.

Our herbalist Jo George couldn’t agree more ! She uses Sencha Organic Green Tea in her Energising Ritual Tea blend combined with other carefully selected ingredients to help keep your mind and senses sharp and operating at optimum levels during stressful periods. Apart from the ‘super’ anti-oxident green tea, there are other reasons why this blend supports adrenal health and calms the nervous system, making it beneficial for alleviating stress in people who feel strung-out, and exhausted at the same time. 

Energising Ritual Tea contains not one but two powerhouse adaptogens ginseng and tulsi which contain compounds that relax and invigorate – helping you adapt to stressful situations when exhaustion threatens. Widely used by herbalists adaptogens improve the body’s resistance to stress along with strengthening the immune system. This blend can be enjoyed whenever you need an energy boost it will help you feel refreshed and ready for action. Wonderfully aromatic tulsi and citrusy lemongrass make it cut through the senses, and soften the harsher taste of green tea.

Still don’t like green tea ? Many people often try poor quality dusty tea in bags and typically over brew it making it bitter; The health benefits of green tea alone in our Energising Ritual blend cannot be ignored….our advice don’t steep too long and buy loose leaf good quality. 

Not convinced about giving it a try ? Try in a superior organic tea blend with other ingredients like in our Energising Ritual Tea… Still not convinced? Here’s a closer look at just one ingredient in this blend ‘Organic Sencha Green Tea’ and its benefits.

Rich in antioxidants

Over the last few decades, green tea has been subjected to numerous scientific studies to establish the extent of its long-purported health benefits. Scientists believe that green teas health benefits are due to its polyphenols, which are natural plant compounds found in high levels in green and white tea that act as potent antioxidants. These chemicals neutralise free radicals in the body that are associated with the development of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer.

There are a number of polyphenols found in tea with Catechins making up a majority of the pholypenols found in green tea. 

Tea also contains alkaloids including caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline, that provide tea’s stimulant effects, and L-theanine, an amino acid compound found in green and white tea, that has been studied for its calming effects on the nervous system.

Because white and green teas are treated gently and not over processed, they retain most of their beneficial antioxidants found to have many health promoting properties.

Cardiovascular health

Research shows that antioxidants found in green tea may help lower cholesterol levels and help protect against coronary heart disease and stroke. According to a Japanese study published in the JAMA, women who drank five or more cups of tea a day had a 31% reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, and a 42% lower risk of stroke. 

Cancer protection

Clinical studies have also linked green tea consumption to the prevention of a number of different types of cancer including breast, colon, lung, and stomach.

Weight loss

Drinking green tea has also been shown to help encourage weight loss by increasing metabolism and fat burning. According to International Journal of Obesity (2000), green teas thermogenic effect is due to the synergistic effect of its caffeine content and catechins, which boosts metabolism.

Tea catechins seem to have and anti-diabetic and anti-obesity action.

Liver function

Green tea has also been found to have positive effect on liver health and may offer protection against liver disease.

Oral health

Green tea consumption is also associated with better oral health. Researches discovered that polyphenols found in green tea can help protect against bacterial induced dental caries, bad breath and oral cancer.

Bone density

Drinking green tea may also help improve your bone health by increasing bone mineral density.

Energising Ritual Tea

Organic ingredients
Sencha green tea – natural tonic and a source of many powerful antioxidants and nutrients.
Tulsi – natural adaptogen, helps support the body’s healthy reactions to stress.
White ginseng – nature’s finest adaptogen and immune system booster.
Lemongrass – natural nervine, shows positive calming effects on the nervous system.

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.