Sweetfern: Winter’s warm companion

|By Steven Martyn|
This time of year when winter’s first bite sinks in, many of us change our diet dramatically. If you live off the land or grow your food, your diet changes by necessity when the ground freezes. And, even if you’re in the city, I think we all instinctively crave heavier foods this time of year. We crave them because eating those foods are what got us through the winter for hundreds of thousands of years. So, our diet changes from light summer fare of salads, fresh fruit and green vegetables to cooked, sweet-fatty-starchy foods like meat, squash, beets, carrots parsnips and potatoes. One way to balance this change is by doing another natural winter activity, drinking lots of herbal tea.Sweetfern-930px-6-600x386

It’s funny, now that we don’t manufacture the Algonquin Tea Company teas at the farm anymore, I only have the bulk herbs we grow and pick in the wild, and sure enough I find myself recreating Sweetfern Tonic as a winter tea, twenty years after creating the blend for the tea company. The blend makes so much sense, it makes itself.

The roots in this blend stimulate and balance our organs of digestion and elimination when they are stressed with less fresh food and more fats. The trace minerals and bitter medicine in the roots of Dandelion, Burdock, Yellowdock and Echinacea, help fill in the gaps in our diet created by the lack of fresh greens. The roots help our immune system, oxygenate our blood and tone our organs of elimination. Sweetfern herself is warm and spicy, further aiding with our circulation and digestion. Sweetfern is also a bit like sage or rosemary, banishing congestion and negativity, which is helpful in the dark months of winter. Sweetfern enables with the assimilation of our food, which is important in the winter when our food is less diverse and fresh. She is a powerful antioxidant that will help clear the inevitable build up of toxins we accumulate in the winter. For most us, our heavier diet and being indoors results in more absorption of toxins in the winter. Clover blossom and leaf are a major part of the blend that enriches and help to purify the toxins from our blood. Clover is also very synergistic and magnifies the medicine of other shyer plants like Yellowdock and Burdock. Clover’s other half providing the smooth richness of taste in this blend is Raspberry. Raspberry vines protect and feed the earth where they grow, as they do for our bodies when we take them in. They are very high in vitamins, minerals and mild hormones that tones and relaxes our winter-tight mind and muscles.

Drink it hot or drink it cold. Cheers!

And if you’re feeling like something a little more decadent use sweet fern tonic tea as you would black tea. I sometimes add a little milk and honey for a thicker sweet drink. Or, make a hot toddy! Enjoy!

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