The perfect drink pairing for summer in the city? Adaptogenic Gynostemma, a.k.a. The Tea of Immortality, will help you burn the candle at both ends for those long summer nights, says Ysanne Spevack.
Want a beverage that helps you burn your candle at both ends? Just say no to coffee, and “Oh hi!” to gynostemma tea!
Known as Jiao-Gu-Lan (the Tea of Immortality) in parts of Southern China, gynostemma is a green leafy adaptogenic plant that’s the go-to for busy urbanites in the know. It’s especially well suited to help us surf summer life in the city, with its fluctuations in the weather (especially this year, what happened, NYC?!) and June’s dawn-to-dusk increased outdoors time.
With the most adaptogenic saponins of any wild-crafted plant in the world (four times the amount of ginseng), this stuff strengthens your natural ability to stabilize blood sugar, supports your immune function, and enhances endurance. And it doesn’t speed you out or crash and burn. It’s all about balancing the nervous system—as with all adaptogens, by definition gynostemma can energize you when you need it, yet help you to relax and sleep at night.
But the real reason it’s known as “The Tea of Immortality” is because of its benefits to liver and cardio function. It supports the body’s production of superoxide dismutase, an antioxidant that protects the liver from free radicals. And it helps arteries, veins, and capillaries release nitric oxide, which helps them to relax.
The taste is a little like the stevia herb, but less sweet—not at all bitter, but an unusual green herby flavor that makes a fantastic base for other drinks and a pleasant iced tea.
And get this … it’s also a beautiful cascading plant that you can grow in a city apartment as a decorative house plant, so long as you have a sunny window. Alternatively, it’s easy to find at stores like Kamwo Meridian Herbs on Grand Street in NYC or in their online shop, which is my go-to for anything to do with Chinese medicine.
June Gynostemma, Shiso, and Goji Ice Tea Don’t smirk at the gojis!!! This is what you’ve been missing all these years. Dry gojis are nasty—but gojis in tea are FABULOUS. And they’re a natural partner to gynostemma, the strange flavors of both combining into a perfect sweet herby balance. And then basil, or if you’re super lucky and can find it, fresh shiso herb. Oh. My. Gosh.
Recipe Makes 1 cup
Ingredients: 1 gynostemma tea bag OR 1 teaspoon dried gynostemma herb 1-2 fresh shies leaves** 10-20 dried goji berries
**Shiso is a kind of basil, so it’s totally possible to switch out shiso for regular Genovese or another type of basil. That said, shiso has flavor magic—it’s the third leg on the stool for this recipe to really stabilize and pop. Find it in Japanese stores, or grow it yourself. It’s easy to grow during summer in New York.
Method: Bring some water to a rolling boil—not in a microwave, please!
Put the herbs and gojis in a coffee mug.
Pour the freshly boiled water into the mug.
Leave on the counter to steep and cool naturally.
Drink as it is, or if preferred, transfer to a tall glass and add ice.
In the first installment of her new column, Ysanne Spevack shares a creamy faux Cappuccino recipe for you to sample some dreamy velvet beans vibes…
Like Jack’s magic beans in the fairytale, velvet beans (Mucuna pruriens in Latin) truly deliver. They’re one of the strongest herbal ingredients I use, and a favorite for total vibe-change. Pods that grow on trees in India, and used as an Ayurvedic medicine, they’ve been tried and tested over millennia, and are now available as an extract in the US, sold as a brown powder that’s water-soluble.
The main active compounds in velvet bean extract fall into two groups: antioxidants, and amino acids, of which the main one is L-dopa, and another is called trypatmine, for obvious reasons. Together, these phytochemicals work synergistically for neural health, and specifically relieve stress and melt our sense of boundaries. Perfect for Pisces season—the archetypal symbol of ego loss and dreams. There’s some research that links velvet beans to sexual health too, but that’s likely to be a result of their relaxing effect.
L-dopa is a precursor to dopamine, norepinephrine and adrenaline, which means it has a profound psychoactive effect. You can feel it working, stimulating a sense of dreamy deliciousness and allowing you a peak behind the veil of consciousness. If you’ve ever wanted to feel the grandeur of the Universe while you melt into your pillow, velvet bean extract is the high vibe ingredient for you. I recommend using it sparingly—a little goes a long way. Also if you’re feeling unstable, or if you’re pregnant, it’s best if you pass on this for now, as with anything psychoactive.
Here’s my recipe for a delicious hot ‘faux cappuccino’ that won’t buzz you like caffeine, and will guide you to feel a subtle oneness with the cosmos. It’s not a bedtime drink— the velvet bean stimulates adrenaline production. But it’s a fantastic way to space out with some music on a lazy Sunday afternoon, and swim in cosmic waters of the Milky Way…
The drink is comfortingly sweet, while the bitterness of the velvet bean and umami of the reishi are similar to coffee, hence the name. Nettles soothe the nerves, and keeps the velvet bean from being jarring while it takes you up a notch.
Imbibe to enjoy about a one hour of day-dreams, in a suitably Piscean way…
Pisces Velvet Bean Cappuccino Recipe by The Conscious Cook
Makes one serving
1 coffee mug filled with boiling water 1 nettle tea bag *1/8 tsp velvet bean extract *1 tsp powdered reishi mushroom *1 tsp tocotrienols 1 tsp raw unfiltered honey 1 tbs raw coconut oil
* Denotes ingredients that are available online at Highvibe.com
Infuse the nettle tea bag in the boiling hot water in a large mug by pouring the hot water onto the tea bag as soon as it’s boiled.
Cover the mug with a saucer or plate, and set aside to infuse for 5 minutes.
Measure the other ingredients into a high-speed blender.
Remove the cover and tea bag, and add the nettle tea to the blender.
Blend on low, bringing the speed up to high, and then switching the blender to the maximum setting.
Blend on high for about 30 seconds, to create froth.
Pour into a large mug, spooning the creamy froth out with a spatula.
Hold the cup with both hands as you take sips, and finish it with a teaspoon to enjoy all of the frothy, creamy goodness.
Finally, relax and allow your dreams to unfold as you swim into the universal cosmos.
Here’s to falling in love … with YOU! Tea alchemist and serial optimist Alicia Henry delivers a self love prescription for your V Day. Illustration: Soleil Ignacio
Valentine’s Day … Whether you’re single or in a partnership, this commercial “holiday” can bring on a wave of negative feelings. Some of us become plagued with thoughts of loneliness, heartache, and even begin to question our self-worth. But there is hope for turning this day (and everyday) into a positive, love-filled experience. And you don’t have to search any further than yourself.
Loving yourself is the most vital action you can take towards your overall well-being and vitality in this life. Not only will you come to the realization that you are a divine being, but you’ll begin to draw others into your life who are also aligned with nourishing their souls and evolving into the best version of themselves. A beautiful ripple effect of LOVE.
Like any new skill, self-love takes practice, determination, flexibility, and patience. It’s a practice we have to cultivate. This V Day is the perfect time to renew (or begin) your own self-love affair and I’ve concocted a self-love prescription to get you started. Here’s to falling in love with YOU!
1. Morning Gratitude + Affirmation Ritual: Our mornings can make or break the rest of our day, so upon waking, take a moment to acknowledge 10 things that you are grateful for. This could mean being thankful for your soft pillow that you lay your head upon, or your two healthy feet that work tirelessly to get you around all day long! This is the first step to simply becoming grateful for who you are.
*Pro Tip: I love to cleanse my space before beginning my morning ritual. My favorite way of doing this is to light Palo Santo—the aroma is sweet and soothing, and it opens my space for newness.
2. Solo Date: When we’re feeling lonely, the first thing we tend to do is run away from the loneliness and fill the void with social engagements. Friends are definitely a major component to our happiness, but if we can’t be happy solo then our social circles become a mere distraction from ourselves. Try turning inwards. You may actually love what you find!
3. Write Yourself a Love Letter: Letter writing is becoming a lost art, but that doesn’t mean romance is dead. Write yourself a love letter that you can open up any day you need it. The letter can include recognizing your greatest strengths, honoring what you believe makes you unique, and forgiveness for any negative feelings about yourself.
*Pro Tip: Create a romantic letter writing experience by lighting candles, burning incense, and using beautiful stationery. To get your creative juices flowing, check out this beautiful poem by the Romantic poet, William Wordsworth. Wordsworth describes his beloved as “a creature not too bright or good.” Who’s perfect anyway?
4. Meditate: Our minds are constantly buzzing, and meditation is an invaluable and truly intimate practice that brings us closer to ourselves, our intuition, our truth, and what really matters in life (to us). Even if it’s 10 minutes per day, give this peaceful, quiet gift to yourself.
*Pro Tip: If you’re new to meditation, there are some awesome apps that will help guide you!
5. Practice Forgiveness: It’s all too easy to get caught up in the mistakes we’ve made, things we wish were different, our so-called imperfections, and other stories that we’ve created and hold against ourselves. But if it weren’t for our mishaps and wrong-turns, we would never evolve. Be tender and forgive yourself for anything that you’re holding onto that doesn’t serve your happiness.
*Pro Tip: The raspberry rose colored Rhodochrosite crystal (above) is known to activate the heart chakra, and promote self-worth and forgiveness.
6. Dance: Want a ticket to instant joy? Dancing is a way to connect to our essential life force. Don’t worry about what you look like—just let loose and feel the music. Whether you’re dancing with friends, or using your hairbrush as a microphone in your bedroom, never stop dancing!
7. Take a Sexy Selfie: And see yourself through the eyes of lust. Sexy selfies don’t need to be sent to a lover, they can also be sent to your friends! A girlfriend of mine recently started a thread with her friends’ sexiest selfie submissions—it’s been such a beautiful, safe, body-positive experience.
*Pro Tip: The piece of lingerie I’m loving most at the moment is this black bodysuit by True&Co.
8. Self-Care Spa: Taking the time to pamper your skin, hair, and nails is a rejuvenating self-care ritual that’ll give you that little extra pep in your step.
*Pro Tip: In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, here’s an easy recipe for a truly decadent body scrub: In a mason jar mix 1 cup coffee grounds (just scoop ‘em off the bottom of your french press—no waste, yay!) with ½ cup coconut oil and ¼ cup raw cane sugar. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil and you’re good to scrub! I find that vanilla and/or essential rose oil are great accompaniments to the awakening coffee aroma. Keep your scrub in the refrigerator when you aren’t using it. Enjoy, beauty!
9. Rest Sweetly: Never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep. When we skimp on sleep, it directly affects our mental well-being. We wake up feeling groggy, our digestive and immune systems are thrown off, and we’re easily spun into negative thinking. Create a peaceful sleeping experience for yourself with kind bedding, a dark room, and a no-electronics policy.
*Pro Tip: Whenever I have trouble falling asleep, I add some lavender infused essential oil to my third eye and lower palms. I cup my palms over my face and breathe in slowly. When you focus on your breath and begin to slow your breathing, you’ll simultaneously slow your heart rate and bring yourself to a restful place.
Yes…the perfect cup of tea! And plenty of other high-vibness, like Shopping for Syria and the period pants that went viral
:: MONDAY :: As part of my ongoing research into “our periods as secret Goddess code” (both for myself personally, and for you as a chapter in MY BOOK – which will be out spring ’17 y’all!) I met Thinx founder Miki Agrawal – the kick-ass entrepreneur taking the taboo out of periods with her leak-proof period panties. Most lately with her kick-ass ad campaign that’s currently plastered all over the Bedford St L stop in Brooklyn. For part of the campaign (which went viral btw, after the MTA refused to run ads with the word “period” in them, WTF), Miki asked her customers to complete the phrase: “Thinx is…” One of my faves is in the picture below. Right on, sisters!
:: TUESDAY :: I think I had the perfect cup of tea with my friends at CAP Beauty, the West Village high-vibe beauty boutique. As in, not only are the products they stock all natural and chemical free, they contain ingredients that actually contribute to your overall radiance – to which Cindy and Kerriynn, who I met while they were in the planning phases for the store, are the living, glowing testament. Anyway, this is the recipe for the tea they gave me: 1 x Lamill chai tea bag, 1/2 x tspn Sun Potion’s He Shou Wu, 1 x tspn coconut oil. Mix, or even better, blend. Life-changing.
:: WEDNESDAY :: Shout to my friend Kate for launching her Shop For Syria online auction – a frankly mind-blowing selection of donated gifts, profits from the sale of which will go to. Seriously, how many times when thinking about the holidays does the notion of actual “goodwill to all (wo)men” cross your mind. Yeah, thought so. So whatever Christmas shopping you had in mind, seriously check this out first: Shopforsyria.tumblr.com You can even bid for a personalized VM message from SIA!
:: THURSDAY :: When your acupuncturist begins your session by asking if you’re familiar with the spiritual roots of S&M…you’re supposed to jump off the table, right? Or not. If you’re me, you pay close attention as she describes how allowing your body to just surrender to whatever sensations it’s experiencing, is actually the path to the most profound relaxation known to human tissue. And since my human tissue seriously needs to relax, I gave her the green flag to go deep. Yes it “hurt” (what’s in a label!) – but floated home in the kind of daze I get after a deep tissue massage. With an added acupuncture buzz. Surrender forever.
:: FRIDAY :: So I spent a large part of last night texting with my friend about what practitioners and alternative therapies I thought she should try to tackle an issue she’s being faced with right now – and it really got me thinking about how much experience I’ve had in this area. At one point I even texted: “Lol – I’m like Google for healers!” I honestly love nothing better than coming up with this kind of high-vibe “prescription” – I once had a friend who put herself on what she called “Ruby’s Regime” when she wanted to sort her life out…and it totally worked! So what I wanna know it, could I help you in this way too? Answers below, as it’s a string I’m considering adding to my bow…