Herbal Ice Cubes
Written and Photographed by Juliet Blankespoor
How many times have you found yourself in this embarrassingly uncomfortable situation?You invite a treasured friend over on a hot summer afternoon and reach for the herbal iced tea you have lovingly prepared from fresh aromatic herbs in your garden, but then you realize with sinking humiliation that you only have plain jane ice cubes on hand. You wish you could just go home, but unfortunately, you are already home. So you serve the plain ice cubes anyway, and brace yourself for the gossip that will surely ensue from your frigid faux pas. “ What kind of herbalist serves ordinary ice cubes with her herbal refreshments?”
Lets totally avoid that scenario, and stock up on these fancy pants herbal ice cubes instead.
I use herbal ice cubes to flavor plain water when I have a full day to make a quick cool herbal beverage, or use them to flavor and cool herbal teas.
Hibiscus Ice Cubes
Bring one quart of water to a boil and add 2 Tablespoons of Hibiscus (dried calyces of Hibiscus sabdariffa, Malvaceae), let sit for twenty minutes and strain. Let the tea cool before adding to ice cube trays. (1.5 cups fills average ice cub tray)
Schisandra Ice Cubes
Bring one quart of water to a boil and add 2 Tablespoons of Schisandra, let sit for twenty minutes and strain. Let the tea cool before adding to ice cube trays.
(I.5 cups fills average ice cub tray) These ice cubes are a light pink color and beautifully accent edible flowers, such as bee balm, calendula, wild bergamot, pansies, and violets.
The fruits of Schisandra chinensis, Magnoliaceae are an important traditional Chinese medicine, and are called Wu Wei Zi, or “five flavored fruit”. I find the flavor of the tea to be mildly sour, with mild smoky and salty overtones. Schisandra is an adaptogen, anti-oxidant, cardio-tonic, immune tonic and anxiolytic. Traditionally it is used to increase Yin; I often use the berries with folks who experience a lot of dryness, with strong thirst and copious urine. Another traditional use is to help with excessive sweating and nightsweating. Schisandra is calming and uplifting for many people, and is used as a tonic in anxietous depression and as a remedy to increase concentration and focus. People who are prone to heartburn may find that schisandra aggravates this condition.
Meet The Green Mastermind Behind Blog Castanea:
JULIET BLANKESPOOR founded the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine in 2007 and serves as the school’s primary instructor and Creative Director. She's been a professional plant-human matchmaker for close to three decades. Juliet caught the plant bug when she was nineteen and went on to earn a degree in Botany. She's owned just about every type of herbal business you can imagine: an herbal nursery, a medicinal products business, a clinical practice, and now, an herbal school.
These days, she channels her botanical obsession with her writing and photography in her online programs and here on her personal blog, Castanea. She's writing her first book: Cultivating Medicinal Herbs: Grow, Harvest, and Prepare Handcrafted Remedies from Your Home Garden. Juliet and her houseplants share a home with her family and herb books in Asheville, North Carolina.
Learn more about cultivation, identification, and uses for medicinal herbs in our 1,000-hour Herbal Immersion Program, which is the most comprehensive handcrafted online herbal course out there.