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How to Make Smreka: A Fermented Juniper Berry Drink

I’m always looking to expand my palate and learn new recipes from across the globe. Bonus points if they’re simple, and extra bonus points if they’re fermented. I was beyond delighted to discover a recipe for the Bosnian fermented beverage “smreka” which fits both of those specs. I first learned about this recipe from Sandor Katz’s classic (and must have) book The Art of Fermentation. Fermented foods are known to have a beneficial effect on your gut health, and thus, your overall health. In short, the good bacteria found in fermented food assists in the digestion process. As they say, “You aren’t what you eat, you’re what you digest."

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Posted by Mason

Loose Leaf Tea vs. Tea Bags

I love a good cup of tea and I love that there is literally a tea for any circumstance I may find myself in. Thus, my tea collection is just as varied as the many different experiences that I go through each day. When I first began drinking tea, I knew it mainly as something to ease my cold symptoms. I remember standing in the tea aisle in the grocery store, all stuffed up, staring blearily (and somewhat blankly) at the various tea boxes. Since then, I have learned a lot about the wonderful world of tea. I have tried them all bright and fruity, deep and sultry, and nutritive and soothing, each offering something uniquely wonderful. My biggest tea lesson to date came when I tried loose leaf tea for the first time. There was no comparison in flavor. After that, it was not long before the boxed teas disappeared from my shelves at home and were replaced by meticulously hand-labeled jars filled with all my favorite teas.

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Posted by Maia

Summer Cocktail: A Refreshing Herbal Highball

It’s hot in Oregon this summer. Really, really hot. Which means it’s time for my favorite cooling herbal cocktail. When the thermometer is pushing uncomfortably into the 90s (and just don’t even get me started on our recent 111 day here in Eugene), I start thinking about a good hibiscus highball. The beauty of this highball is that it uses ingredients I always have on hand and gives me easy options to customize flavors for different people with my choices of tea and ginger beer. I like to use our Hibiscus High Tea because it is full of some of my favorite herbal allies and I love the cooling power and gorgeous, deep red of hibiscus. Sometimes I also brew up a Lemon Tea or Vanilla Rooibos for a delicious change of pace. Enjoy!

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Posted by Shawn

Understanding Herbal Actions and How They Support the Microbiome

We now know that microflorae in our gut, which have evolved in a symbiotic relationship with us over time, directly influence—either positively or negatively—every aspect of our health and wellbeing, including our digestion, immune functions, neurological and emotional health, hormonal balance, cardiovascular strength, and more. Attracting beneficial microflorae (the ones that flip the genetic switches toward health and balance) is a matter of making healthy food and lifestyle choices. In other words, what we eat tips the scales towards wellbeing or dis-ease. When we choose to eat an organic plant-based diet high in phytonutrients, antioxidants, and dietary fiber, we attract a much more diverse, healthy, and resilient microbiome, which in turn strengthens our defenses against illness and unhealthy aging. In this line of defense, carminative, nervine, bitter, and demulcent herbs can be leveraged much like secret agents who step in to fend off undesirable effects.

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Homemade Hop Ginger Brew

To me, there aren’t many drinks more refreshing than a well-crafted ginger beer, especially during these hot summer months. There’s something so delightful about the balance between the ever-so-slight sweetness, the spicy zing of ginger, and the carbonation. Ever on a quest to try new DIY culinary experiments, I thought it’d be fun to attempt a homemade version of this soda.

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Posted by Mason

Berry Summer Mocktail Recipe with Cooling Herbs

My husband recently went on a summer-mocktail quest. It started because he made homemade ginger beer, which was good, but lacked some important refreshing element; it was a bit “much” on a hot day. Still, it was inspirational. The delicious, summery, layered mocktail that my honey ultimately came up with utilizes ginger beer (homemade or store-bought) and some of the most refreshing, cooling herbal allies. It also celebrates both summer berries and the beautiful roses of the season with a berry and rose simple syrup. Make tea and simple syrup the evening before so all you have to do is find some shade and settle in for a revitalizing, enjoyable day. Bring on the sun, we’re ready!

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Posted by Heidi

How to Make Cold Brew Coffee + 3 Herbal Additions

Now that summer has arrived, I find myself constantly craving cold brew coffee. This beverage is not simply a traditionally hot brewed coffee, with ice added to it. It’s even simpler than that! Basically, it’s coarse ground coffee beans steeped in room temperature water, overnight. However, as per usual, I will complicate the process by adding a bunch of herbs and spices to the recipe. I can’t help myself; herbalism infuses so many aspects of my life. I’m sure you can relate.

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Posted by Mason

Yaupon: Rediscovering America’s Forgotten Tea

Sooner or later, everything old is new again. This saying has been sneaking into our day-to-day a lot over the last couple of years as people are rediscovering “old” methods of being more self-sufficient and resilient in these challenging times. One of our favorite old-new “discoveries” is yaupon tea. When our Mountain Rose Herbs tea team was introduced to yaupon, we—like most Americans—had no idea that there was a naturally caffeinated tea plant native to North America. This fact is astounding when you consider that yaupon tea was the drink of choice for literally thousands of years. This delicious tea is supremely sippable and, thanks to plentiful theophylline and theobromine (as well as a host of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, etc.), provides a smooth caffeine boost and focus without the jitteriness that can come from coffee.

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Posted by Heidi

Herbal Gin Fizz Recipe

By now, if you’ve been following along with my seasonal cocktail recipes here on the Mountain Rose Herbs blog, you know I have a passion and something of a reputation for making herb-infused spirits. This year on the Spring Equinox, I started thinking about what I wanted to create to celebrate the end of winter. Something fun and fresh, with herbal goodness. Also, I happened to have a couple bottles of my favorite artisan gins hanging about, Desert Juniper from Bendistillery and another from Thinking Tree. So: spring, gin, relief after a long winter. Obviously, my version of an herbal gin fizz was in order.

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Posted by Shawn

Hemp Milk Recipe + Chocolate and Strawberry Flavor Variations

Whether you are lactose intolerant or not, learning to make different non-dairy “milks” is a fun way to vary up the nutrients you’re getting in your diet. For instance, hemp seeds contain magnesium and a host of other minerals, as well as a nice profile of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Out of all the nut milks I’ve tried, hemp milk is easily my favorite. It’s got an unparalleled nuttiness that I enjoy quite a bit. I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention the sustainability of hemp production. Hemp production requires less water than dairy farming, is beneficial to the soil, and can be easily grown organically. 

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Posted by Mason

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