GYNOSTEMMA ICED TEA WILL MAKE YOU FEEL IMMORTAL

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.

Image: Jason Briscoe

 

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.

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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.

Discover more about Ysanne Spevack HERE.

THE MAGIC INGREDIENT: CHAGA MUSHROOMS ARE SUPER HEALING & SUPER DELICIOUS

Feeling the Spring fever? Ysanne Spevack whips up an immune boosting pudding with chaga mushrooms that’s equal parts powerful and subtly healing. Main Image: Mariano Peccinetti 

April is an invigorating time of year, with spring’s changing moods inviting us back out of our homes and into the streets. The month also brings indecisive weather, from thunderstorms to sunshine. To face this fluctuating weather and to address the rising allergen percentage in the air, our immunity needs a natural boost right now.

Enter chaga mushrooms, a humble type of mycelium that grows on trees. More like a tree fungus than a regular mushroom, chaga is probably best known and most widely used for its scientifically confirmed anti-oxidant qualities that protect against cancer, and also for its use for people with HIV. Chaga doesn’t beat around the bush when it comes to antioxidant qualities.

That said, chaga is equally powerful when eaten to reduce seasonal allergies, and it has a soothing effect on the respiratory system. What’s more, chaga mushrooms have a subtle flavor that lends itself well to sweet recipes. It has a woody taste with an undertone of vanilla, so blends well with anything containing vanilla.

Chaga grows right here in the US and is always wild, never cultivated. You can find it on birch trees anywhere along the East Coast that experiences a cold winter. And if you’re not ready for a trip into the woods, you can find it ready-powdered online at High Vibe or your local independent purveyor of high-quality medicinal superfoods.

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Chaga Chia Pudding Recipe 
by Ysanne Spevack 

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:

2 medjool dates
1½ cup water
2 tbs hemp hearts
2tsp powdered chaga
½ tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup black chia seeds

Method:

Remove the pits from the dates using your fingers, and drop them into a blender. Add the water, hemp hearts, chaga, and vanilla, then cover and process at the highest speed for 45 seconds.

If you have a Mason jar, pour the chia seeds into it, and pour the liquid into the jar. If you don’t have a Mason jar, any kind of 2 cup lidded container will work.

Secure the lid, and shake vigorously for at least 30 seconds, to ensure the seeds are all thoroughly wet and aren’t clumping together. If you see obvious clumps, open the lid and break them up with a fork.

Set aside on the counter to gel for at least three hours. After that duration, it’s either ready to eat, or to refrigerate. Consume within 3 days.

Discover more about Ysanne Spevack HERE.

THE MAGIC INGREDIENT: DREAMY VIBES WITH VELVET BEANS

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…

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Pisces Velvet Bean Cappuccino Recipe
by The Conscious Cook

Makes one serving

Ingredients:

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

Method:

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.

Discover more about Ysanne Spevack HERE.