Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Finlay's Garden Elderberry Tea with Joanne Zerdy

I will take a quick break from the "Tea in Art" series to talk about Elderberry Tea.

In these somber times, we can all benefit from a warm, comforting cup of tea.  At least that’s the way it works for me. Each day, in addition to my usual morning black tea, I have been drinking two cups of a hearty elderberry tisane blend. I purchased this tisane blend here in Asheville from Joanne Zerdy of Inviting Abundance. Read our conversation here.
Joanne Zerdy
I know that you have completed a 1,000 hour Herbal Immersion Program focused on herbal medicine.  Given this expertise, what can you tell us about the properties of this Elderberry Tea Blend that you have created?

My Elderberry Tea Blend consists of elderberries, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. Elderberries contain healthful antioxidants and are known to boost the immune system for most people. As an antiviral, they are especially helpful at the onset of a cold or flu. Importantly, though, no research has been done about their usefulness in fighting the novel COVID-19 virus. Additionally, elderberries are antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and act as a cardiovascular tonic. Cinnamon and ginger are both stimulants with anti-inflammatory properties that benefit the digestive system. Also a digestive aid, clove is anti-microbial with a mild anesthetic property when used topically (especially for tooth pain). These herbal ingredients (long used by herbalists in different parts of the world) work together to strengthen one's digestive health and immunity.

**Please Note:
1. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. They are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition.
2. Those who are pregnant, nursing, or taking any medications may wish to consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner and/or clinical herbalist before using herbal products.
3. Elderberries should be dried or cooked in order to eliminate mild cyanide-related compounds.

Do you drink teas other than the herbal blends that you create?  If so, tell us a bit about your tea drinking habits.

Yes, I am a big tea drinker. I consume herbal teas every day for continued health and vitality, but I also have enjoy drinking black and green teas. Having lived in London and Edinburgh, I became accustomed to drinking cups of black tea (assam, ceylon, nilgiri, etc.) throughout the day. As I learned more about the antioxidant benefits of green teas, and matcha in particular, I have also included those in my diet. I especially enjoy making homemade iced matcha lattes with soy milk. I also enjoy sampling various oolong and puerh teas on my own or at tea shops in cities that I visit. I have had great experiences with tea in many beautiful places: enjoying high tea at a London hotel, experiencing a Gongfu tea preparation at The Tao of Tea teahouse in Portland, OR, attending a tasting hosted by Spirit Tea at the Chicago Botanic Garden, and visiting Dobrá Čajovna in Prague with my family. I even got engaged over tea at the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park! 

Tell us a bit about your project called Finlay's Garden.  Where can folks purchase your products online?

Finlay's Garden is a true labor of love. It is named for my first child -- my son Finlay -- who died inexplicably in childbirth in June 2014. My experience grieving his death led me to cultivating the small garden attached to the home we were renting at the time. I began making herbal concoctions (teas, infused honeys, skin products) that I shared with friends and family, identifying them as coming from "Finlay's Garden." After doing my own self-guided study of herbs and organic gardening, I enrolled in the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine's Herbal Studies program. As I formalized my study, I became drawn to the magic of making herb-infused honeys, which combines the power of plants with the delicious, antibacterial goodness of honey. This "classwork" led to the formation of my online Etsy shop - Finlay's Garden. I began selling 3 primary herb-infused honeys -- Calm, Warm, and Heart -- and then branched out into seasonal selections as well. I purchase many of the dried herbs that I use from Mountain Rose Herbs in Oregon but I also practice ethical foraging for some of my seasonal varieties, such as White Pine and Sassafras. At a friend's recommendation, I also began making herbal tea blends with some of these herbs and then I added a couple additional botanical aids -- Rose Glycerite and Grief Bitters -- to my inventory. I love connecting to people through this very heart-centered work. You can find out more about Finlay's Garden on our Inviting Abundance webpage, I accept orders through my Etsy shop,, as well as via Paypal, Venmo, and Google Pay. 

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Maira Gall