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October is a month of transition. In the Northern hemisphere, temperatures are beginning to drop. The leaves on the trees are aglow with a vibrant spectrum of oranges, reds, and browns. We’re cutting back our summer gardens and tilling them back into the earth. We’re layering up with scarves, sweaters, and doing our best to stave away that autumnal chill.
We associate October with the end of summer harvest. Many of us are enjoying Halloween, Samhain, All Soul’s Day, Día de Muertos, and other seasonal celebrations. We’re feeling whimsical, inspired, and a little bit spooky. We’re in need of a touch of grounding: a moment to check in with our earthly selves and bask in the aromas and flavours iconic to this enchanting time of year.
Kolya’s Blending Bar recipe for the month of October is a soothing herbal tonic. It was conjured by Alecia, botanical enchantress, often found in our Learning Kitchen hovering over a mortar and pestle with her nose in a book. Alecia devised this warming beverage to stave away the seasonal sniffles common to this time of year.
It is a digestive aid and all-around wellness tonic for the body. On its own, the beverage is rich and grounding. With the addition of cream or milk alternative, it magically transforms into the perfect fall beverage. Warm, cozy, and grounding, yet wonderfully bewitching.
Our star ingredient is reishi mushroom powder. Known as a “spirit plant” or “phantom mushroom,” reishi is a staple in traditional Chinese medicine. Western herbal practitioners love it too: it is a calmative, meaning it helps alleviate anxiety and nervousness. It relaxes the body, yet retains a strong anti-fatigue and immune-boosting effect (1).
Dandelion root is a prized digestive bitter. It’s considered one of the safest and most effective diuretic herbs. It is high in potassium, vitamins A and C, and minerals including calcium, magnesium, and iron. It is restorative and rejuvenating.
Burdock is lauded as an illness-preventative herb: it is rich in iron, magnesium, thiamine, and a host of other vitamins and minerals. It promotes healthy kidney function and digestion.
Astragalus builds immunity and aids in energizing the body, which is handy for the prevention and treatment of seasonal colds and flus. Studies indicate this tonic herb strengthens the immune system’s ability to resist infection, thereby contributing to overall wellbeing (2).
Licorice, too, is outstanding for the endocrine system. It relieves adrenal exhaustion, and may lift the mood for those of us who find summer’s end all-too-depressing (3). It is also used as a soothing demulcent and anti-inflammatory, and its constituents make it a highly regarded remedy for upper respiratory problems such as coughs, sore throats, congestion, and digestive tract inflammation.
Pliny said, “Whoever shall take a spoonful of the Mallow shall that day be free from all diseases that may come to him” (4). Indeed, marshmallow root takes its place as a medicinal herb because of its mucilaginous quality, which will help keep your respiratory tract clear through the seasonal shifts.
Our flavouring blend is also rich with therapeutic potential. Cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, fennel, and ginger, are prized for their delicious flavours. They are staples to the rich flavours of autumn. All are safe and effective herbs for the treatment of nausea, indigestion, and inflammation. Many afflicted with pains associated with menstruation take these herbs to relieve cramping and discomfort.
The method of preparation is easy. First, break up the heartier herbs in a mortar and pestle. Simply measure the ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix until well blended. Dispense into a sealable container, label, and keep in a dark place for up to a year.
To prepare your tonic, measure one tablespoon of herbal mix into one and a half cups of water. Simmer on the stove over low heat for fifteen minutes or more; the longer this concoction steeps, the stronger its flavour and therapeutic properties become. Enjoy as-is, or add your favourite sweetener and milk of choice to transform this blend into a wonderfully rich and creamy autumn potion.
See the full recipe & method for Soothing Reishi Tonic here:
See how easy it is to make:
Are you sad to see summer go, or do you welcome the change in seasons? What are your favourite fall flavours? Let us know in the comments below. Happy brewing!
Gladstar, Rosemary. Family Herbal: A Guide to Living with Energy, Health, and Vitality. Regent Publishing. 2001.
Rogers, Robert. The Fungal Pharmacy: The Complete Guide to Medicinal Mushrooms & Lichens of North America. 2011.
Van Wyk, Ben-Erik. Wink, Michael. Medicinal Plants of the World. Timber Press. 2004.