Sunday, April 1, 2012

White Clover and Satsuma Blossom Tea

I divide my time between Santa Barbara, California and Prairieville, Louisiana. Santa Barbara is a small beachtown in Central California, nestled between stately purple mountains and rolling green hills, and the vast, expansive Pacific ocean, flanked by the Channel Islands offshore. I was born and raised here, surfing in the ocean and roaming the mountains, foraging, hiking and camping. 

I now live in rural, tiny, Prairieville, Louisiana, a slow-paced, eternally warm town in Southern Louisiana, where open azure skies, natural ponds and bayous teeming with sacred lilies, edible tubers and roots, and basically pure, expansive beauty is the norm. 

Here in Louisiana clover abounds. Rich in bioactive components calcium, lecithin, chromium, magnesium, potassium, silicium, vitamins A, C, E, B2, and B3, clover decongests, decreases arthritis pain, and reduces ocular inflammations. Clover has a relaxing effect on the nervous system, adjusting the 'psycho-emotional' balance and contributing to the development of communication skills. Clover reduces inflammations, the effects concerning menopause and pre-menopause, hot flashes, depressive states, and is an excellent urinal relaxant. Studies have proved that clovers can protect against the development of breast cancer cells. Clover can reduce the risk of lymphatic, ovary and breast cancer. The herb reduces breast inflammations (mastitis) and breast pains. It detoxifies the lymph, lungs, liver, kidneys, and blood. It is useful for decreasing the concentration of uric acid, which contributes to, among other ailments, gout. Clover is a good expectorant; it soothes the spasms of the bronchi, soothing coughs. It is also anti-asthmatic. It stimulates secretion and relaxes the muscles.

I handmade this tea using a mixture of the herbs and flowers I love best from both of my lovely homes. I combined delicate Satsuma mandarin blossoms from a tree in my backyard in Prairieville, and tiny Satsuma buds. The blossoms' honey drenched scent nicely compliments the buds' crisp, citrus notes. Then I added beautiful whole White Clover blooms and leaf. Lastly, I lovingly threw in some sundried Clementine Mandarin peel, grown by my friends at The Center for Urban Agriculture at Fairview Gardens, a small scale, biodynamic farm cradled at the base of the Fairview Foothills in Santa Barbara County, only a few miles from the ocean.

This tea has a lovely, mild, earthy tone, and is the perfect gentle wake-me up on those drowsy, dreary days. Below  is the simple recipe, or you can buy pre-made batches from my Etsy site at 

Wild Clover and Satsuma Blossom Tea

At the beginning of the year, when Clementine mandarins burst forth with their bright orange skins, and sweet, plump flesh I basically devour them one after the other, til I'm totally sick of them. During this decadent period in January I save each thick, velvety mandarin skin and place them in a shallow basket. I place this basket in a cool, dry place for about two weeks, until the skins are leathery tough. I store these ochre gems in an airtight glass jar until Spring. Around the first week of Spring, I hurriedly gather Satsuma mandarin blossoms and blooms, using sharp scissors, careful not to bruise the petals, which could result in decomposition. I leave these to dry in a basket in a cool and dry space for about a week. Next, I begin collecting white Clover leaf and blooms, allowing to dry a few days in, you guessed it, a cool dry place, spread out evenly. This is crucial in order to avoid decomposition and mold. I add the dried leaves, clover flowers, and Satsuma blossoms to my jar full of mandarin peel. Lastly, after the remaining blooms have fallen off of my Satsuma tree, and tiny Satsuma buds have begun to grow, I collect these by the handful. Allow at least a week or two to dry before adding to the jar full of mandarin peel and clover. If desired, grind coarsely with a mortar and pestle. Use a teaball if you wish, and infuse with boiling water. I love adding a heaping spoonful of orange blossom or wildflower honey.

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