Sunday, April 14, 2013


Nothing warms the body and soul like holding a fragrant steaming cup of herbal tea, inhaling its subtle scents as you slowly sip, while you enter the world of a cozy mystery. Not only does tea bring you flavor, variety, and easily digested nutrients, it also provides numerous health benefits from soothing a sore throat with fennel to easing anxiety and stress with chamomile. Making herbal tea is a unique way to use the benefits of aromatherapy, the theme of my latest cozy SCENT to KILL: A Natural Remedies Mystery.  

I like to brew a nice cup of tea in the late afternoon, what the Brits call “tea time” and drink it as I am writing my cozy mysteries. Use this guide to make the perfect cup of tea the next time you’re planning on reading one! Here’s how:  

Making the Perfect Cup of Tea 

Herbal tea is an infusion of leaves, seeds, roots or bark, whose goodness is extracted in hot water and sipped for its benefits, both mental and physical. To begin, use pure water, distilled, spring filtered, or well water. Use one heaping teaspoon of dry herbs per cup of hot water. Dried herbs available in loose bulk form are often less expensive and offer a wider variety of flavors. Health food stores offer muslin tea bags and tea balls, which can be filled with herbs and used to steep to make herbal tea. You can also try using a conventional teapot. Here’s how:  

Teapot Method

Fill a china or porcelain tea pot with hot water and allow it to stand for a minute or so. This warms the pot so that the tea you pour into it will not cool down quickly because of a cold pot and impede the steeping process. Then pour off the water, add loose herbs (1 heaping teaspoon for each cup plus one extra one ‘for the pot’) and fill the pot with boiling water. Cover and allow the herbs and water to steep for ten to fifteen minutes. This also allows the herbs to cool to a comfortable drinking temperature. To serve the tea, simply hold a strainer over each cup as you pour.

The Infusion Method

The Infusion method is ideal for herbal leaves, flowers and seeds and even roots (such as ginger, osha, and valerian) that have delicate essential oils that would be diminished if boiled. The best way to prepare this type of tea is to lightly bruise seeds with a mortar and pestle to help release their flavor and properties.
Next, simply boil a cup of water and remove it from the heat. Add one heaping teaspoon of herb, cover (to prevent the delicate essential oils from evaporating) and allow it to steep for ten to twenty minutes. 

French Press

A French press is a glass pot, a gadget beloved by coffee drinkers, but works great for herbal tea. Simply add the herb to the press, cover with hot water and allow it to steep for ten minutes. The press automatically strains out the herbs, and you can give it a squeeze to further release therapeutic value.

Sun Tea

Sun teas work best with leaves and flowers. Add one cup of herb or herb mixture or twelve tea bags and allow the herbs to sit in sunlight for four to six hours. Cover the jar to prevent leaves from blowing into the jar. Strain before drinking.

Cold Water Infusion

Cold water infusions retain more vitamin C, and a brighter color than hot infusions. Fill a glass pitcher with fresh picked herbs from the list below and cover with spring water. Allow to steep in the refrigerator for several hours (8-12) or overnight.

These herbs are good choices for cold infusion:

Bee Balm
Lemon Balm
Lemon Verbena

Add Flavor to Your Tea  

Make your tea even more flavorful by adding a touch of honey, agave nectar, apple juice, maple syrup, raw sugar, cinnamon extract, a squeeze of fresh lemon, lime or orange. I like to add Truvia which is a kind of stevia. You can keep tea up to four days in the refrigerator.

Types of Tea You Might Like to Try:

Chamomile tea is a soothing and sedative herb that’s effective at relieving stress and anxiety and easing insomnia. Valerian tea also helps you to relax.
Ginger tea soothes tummy and digestive troubles like nausea and an upset stomach. 
Milk Thistle tea is a gentle liver cleanser that helps this important organ to regenerate and work more efficiently.
Lemon Balm tea can help you see the glass half-full so it’s good for the winter blues. It can also help you concentrate better.
Rosehip tea is bursting with Vitamin C, so it’s good for your immune system and can help to ward off colds and flu. Green tea is also packed with polyphenols, a type of antioxidant that helps boost health.
Here's the Scoop on Scent to Kill: A Natural Remedies Mystery

“A well-crafted mystery…Devotees of natural medicine and aromatherapy will enjoy the tips that appear at the beginning of each chapter and scattered throughout the text.” Publisher’s Weekly   

Willow McQuade, naturopathic doctor, along with her hunky ex-cop boyfriend Jackson Spade, attend a party for a psychic TV show that is filming on Long Island’s idyllic East End. However, Willow is much more interested in visiting the estate’s lavender farm, seeking inspiration for the new aromatherapy workshops she'll be holding at her store, Nature’s Way Market & CafĂ©.   

Before the party is over, Roger Bixby one of the producers is dead and the police suspect murder. Roger was working on the show, MJ’s Mind, with Carly Bixby, his ex-wife and the new girlfriend of Willow's ex from L.A., TV writer/producer Simon Lewis.   

After Willow leaves the party, she gets a frantic text from Simon asking for her help. Since Simon had a fight with Roger earlier in the evening, and because of his death is now the primary shareholder in Galaxy films, Willow's ex becomes the prime suspect. Simon begs her to crack the case and clear him of the murder. MJ McClellan, the psychic and star of the show also asks Willow for help. She hires Willow to provide natural remedies, including aromatherapy, massage, acupuncture and yoga to soothe the agitated crew of her show. 

To find the killer, Willow has to deal with ghosts in a haunted mansion, a truly dysfunctional family, death threats and “accidents,” while trying to untangle a homicide identical to one committed during prohibition. Thankfully, Jackson has been hired to provide security and is there to watch her back and help Willow solve this spooky mystery. As a bonus, you’ll find dozens of natural aromatherapy cures throughout the book that can improve your health in mind, body and spirit!

For a chance to win a copy of Scent to Kill: A Natural Remedies Mystery just leave a comment here. What is your favorite cup of tea?

I'm the author of SCENT TO KILL, (Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster) the second in the NATURAL REMEDIES MYSTERY series, DEATH DROPS: A Natural Remedies Mystery, the non-fiction title THE COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO NATURAL REMEDIES (Alpha, 2009), co-author of BEAT SUGAR ADDICTION NOW! (Fairwinds Press, 2010), currently in its fourth printing, the BEAT SUGAR ADDICTION NOW!COOKBOOK (Fairwinds Press, 2012) and THE COUNTRY ALMANAC OF HOME REMEDIES (Fairwinds, 2011). My magazine articles featuring natural remedies have appeared in many national publications including Natural Health, Vegetarian Times, Better Homes & Gardens and Remedy. Visit my website at


Anonymous said...

I already won a copy of the book. Great!!

I do really like rosehip tea. For me, any tea is a treat.

petite said...

My favorite cup of tea is Lemon Balm with ginger. Love lemon slices which are soothing and make the flavor special and lasting. Thanks for this fascinating post. Learned more which is lovely.

traveler said...

Drinking herbal tea has always been my method for managing a cold or sore throat and it has proven very effective. A perfect panacea. Since teas provide me with a wonderful feeling of well being and have always been my preferred drink no matter what season. Thanks for this excellent and useful post.

Anne Canadeo said...

Loved this post, Chrystle. I learned so much about tea, even though I drink a ton of it. I also can't seem to write -- or read -- without the a hot, steamy cup clearning my head and calming me down. I'm going to try some of your recipes.

Linda O. Johnston said...

Mmmm, your herbal teas sound great, Chrystle. I'll have to try some. I'm not a great fan of regular teas, but herbals often hit the spot with me!

Chrystle Fiedler said...

Yes, herbal teas are special, that's for sure! I'm glad that my post was helpful and entertaining! I've got to try Lemon Balm tea next, it sounds delish. I'm going to try to make some sun tea come summer. I think Sleepytime used to have a tea for that, although you can use others. Thanks to everyone for stopping by! Chrystle

Tami Bates said...

Banana peelings are great for rashes

Susan B Weiner, CFA said...

I like mint tea.

When you refer to rose tea, do you mean using petals, rosehips, or something else.

Betty Hechtman said...

Great post. I love tea of all sorts, herbal and traditional.

Terri said...

Chamomile and mint - sometimes together! :-)

Would love a chance to win this book!

Mafalda said...

Hello! I loved your blog and especially this post since I am a huge tea lover!

I love to try different types of tea regularly, whether they are real teas or herbals.

I tend to drink black tea more regularly, especially Earl Grey, but since I am becoming more sensitive to caffeine, I have turned to herbals :)

Last month I had a huge cold and Elderberry tea was my saver! It helped me ease the symptoms as well as my sore throat!

Now I have been drinking Licorice tea. Have you ever tried this one?

It's a good surprise! Very sweet and healthy!

Keep posting!

Grean Herbz said...

Hey I just want to appreciate your ability to work. You have set an example for us by posting such an informative post. Great work.
Herbal Potpourri