Ask the Bartender, Ask the Plants, Ask Karoline #71

Today I went see Vitamin X and the Fleshies in Chloe’s garage and I think that it was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen in San Francisco.  All the charm and energy of a rad midwest basement show, a fun pit that had everyone bumping into the garage door with smiles on their faces and an incredible view of the Bay between bands.  A great combo...scenic punk rock! Speaking of scenery (sort of...) there was a huge rosemary bush (easily 5 feet long) in front of Chloe’s house and it got me to thinking about how I hadn’t written my column yet and maybe I should do a little research on the benefits of this fragrant plant some time in the near future.  For now, however, I’m going to just pass along a few summery ideas for iced herbal beverages that are tasty, interesting and super easy to make.

Douglas Fir tip tea (from Juniper Ridge Western Wild Goods of Berkeley, CA) is one of the best iced teas I’ve had in my entire life! I was initially a bit apprehensive because while Firs are beautiful, stately trees, they aren’t something I think of as having edible parts. The taste is delicate and lemony and needs absolutely nothing else added to it. Grab a big glass jar and brew up some sun tea with this little gem! I would also recommend checking out the Juniper Ridge website ( or calling for their catalog (1.800.205.9499). Heaps of neat herbal items from these fine folks.
Sport Tea (from Ultimate Performance Products) isn’t all herbal, but its so damn good that I have to mention it. A blend of black and green teas, siberian ginseng (eleuthero), ginger, matte and Vitamin C...98% caffeine free, a great pick me up (especially if you have a hangover) and really smooth on the tastebuds. Pretty easily available at any natural food store and even at most regular grocery stores, so there’s not much of an excuse for not giving it a whirl. Should you be traveling through Milwaukee, WI any time in the near future, stop on in at the fabulous Fuel Cafe and order yourself a glass.
Mint is a great base for an iced tea. Try it with lemon balm, lavender and hibiscus for a great end of the day beverage. One teaspoon of each to two cups of water in a glass mason jar, let it steep all day in a warm spot. Strain and enjoy. See if you can find pineapple mint anywhere for a subtle flavor treat.  Regular old peppermint sun tea is always super refreshing as well. Make mint ice cubes and use them in any kind of drink.

I haven’t tried this one out yet, but the recipe is from the July chapter of
Herbal Rituals by Judith Berger and I’ll bet it is unique in flavor and effect.
Wise Woman/Wise Man Tea
red raspberry leaves , nettle leaves , mugwort leaves , 1/2 gallon jar , boiled water
    The red raspberry leaves are good for strengthening the uterus and the prostate; nettle leaves provide energy and nutrition; and mugwort (a heavy hitter in the olfactory department, so it must be really intense in flavor as well) eases cramping and stimulates dream activity. You should adjust the amount of the herb in accordance to the properties you most want. Herbs should total two large handfuls. Make an infusion (boiling water over the herbs, cover and let steep for a few hours, then strain). The recommendation is to sip this while hot, but I think it would be quite good iced during the summer. Try this before bed and see if you get crazy dreams.  Probably not good for small children, because of the possibly intense dream factor.

Red Raspberry Popsicles (also by Judith Berger)
red raspberry leaf infusion , organic apple juice (or any favorite juice) , popsicle trays (or ice cube trays and toothpicks)
    Make an infusion using two ounces of leaves per half gallon and steep for four hours. Mix the infusion half and half with the juice, pour into popsicle trays and freeze.  Enjoy the following day.
    Red raspberry leaves mixed with oatstraw and hibiscus is also a great (and super nutritious) infusion that can be served iced. Experiment and see what you come up with!
    One last ‘interesting’ suggestion before I send this out over the ‘information super highway’ to my oh-so beloved and patient girlfriend Chris(tine). Grab a box of Kukicha (twig tea), brew up a batch and ice it down.  Super good taste, hardly any caffeine. Can you say refreshing? Oh yes.

Super Easy...
As much as I love all herbal teas, I must admit that there is nothing that compares to a big tall glass of regular ice tea...I love making a big pitcher of Irish Breakfast ice tea. Any black tea will do, but that’s my favorite right now. If you love caffeine and need a break from too much coffee, give it a just might like it.

South America...
By the time this issue comes out, I will have been to Brazil, Bolivia and Peru on tour and sightseeing. Amazing! We leave in nine days and I still can’t believe how lucky I am to be able to go on such a great trip. I’m hoping I can learn a little bit of local herbal lore to share with y’all in my next column...I hear La Paz has a Witches Market (which should be quite interesting and maybe a little scary). Have a great summer and stay hydrated!  Karoline