Herbal Sodas – switchels, shrubs, tonics

herb soda

I have a new passion – Herbal Sodas.  I have found a delicious and enjoyable way to encourage health and wellness through herbal medicine that doesn’t feel like you are taking medicine!  There are many herbal products out there, most with wonderful health benefits, however not all are enjoyable to use.  Swallowing capsule after capsule just isn’t much fun, regardless of the myriad of benefits it may bring.

I am an herbalist and a wellness practitioner with nearly 20 years experience behind me.     I have worked with herbals in many forms and lately I am very excited about the area of herbal beverages.  I feel it is an optimal way to encourage the use of herbs, that really doesn’t feel like taking “medicine” at all.  I feel that herbal medicine should be enjoyable to take.  When something is enjoying, it nourishes something different in us than just the physical body, something very important that is often left out of most wellness protocols.  It supports and nourishes our emotions, our spirits, our souls.

Eclectic beverages in the form of switchels, shrubs, and tonics are becoming increasingly popular and hip amongst young adults, who are reaching for these “mocktail” drinks, often over alcoholic ones.  And for good reason.  They promote health & wellness and they taste good and are enjoyable to drink.

The possibilities are practically endless with what you can create.  My herbal sodas typically consist of

  1. An herbal syrup that is either honey or cane sugar based.  The choice will come based on what I feel like drinking in any given moment and what my body feels like it needs – (HINT-they are usually the same thing.)
  2. Raw apple cider vinegar
  3. A dropper full of bitters
  4. A dropper or two full of a tincture or extract.
  5. Sparkling water
  6. Ice

Since I run an apothecary, I use syrups that I create, but you don’t need to be limited to those.  You can reach out and find other sources of syrups, or make your own, which is a fairly simple process (I will cover this in this post.). You can use syrups that are honey based, which, at my apothecary, are the more medicinal ones, designed to support wellness, and brings shifts towards greater health or you can use syrups that are cane sugar based, often called simple syrups.  Simple syrups can be infused with just about anything that calls to you – lavender, blueberry basil, rose are just a few.

Some Sage Moon Apothecary Syrups that make great herbal sodas

  • Blood Building Syrup – a multi vitamin and mineral syrup that is a great daily tonic
  • Beyond Elderberry or Traditional Elderberry Syrup – a wonderful high vitamin C immune system supporting syrup that is a wonderful preventative.
  • Lavender Artisan Syrup of Possibility – a floral, non-soapy flavored simple syrup infused with French and locally Maine grown lavender
  • Amorous Rose Syrup of Possibility – a beautifully colored and flavored simple syrup with red rose and hibiscus and just a touch of cinnamon
  • Turmeric Ginger Switchel  – anti-inflammatory and pain relieving qualities – also helps increase metabolism and is detoxifying, supports the liver, heart, and kidneys – and already infused in raw acv
  • ACV Elixir – anti inflammatory, pain relieving, detoxifying, and helps increase metabolism, which may play a part in weight loss. Also already contains ACV so no need to add more.

Raw apple cider vinegar is a component of a shrub or switchel, however you can choose to leave it out if you wish.  You don’t need much to benefit from it’s addition and it really can be quite tasty and not overpowering when used in the right proportions.  A good quality ACV is important.  Look for one that contains a mother culture.  If you don’t have raw acv on hand and want to make a switchel, you can certainly use regular pasteurized ACV, however for regular use, I highly recommend the raw ACV as you will reap greater health benefits from it’s addition.

Bitters and Tinctures are an added plus to herbal sodas, that enrich and deepen the flavor, and add just a hint of something different.  They are a wonderful health support and when you add them to your. herbal syrup, you hardly notice they are there – far different from taking a dropper full of somewhat unpleasant taking medicine!

Some of the tinctures we carry at Sage Moon Apothecary that I frequently use in my. herbal sodas are:

  • Chaga-Reishi Concentrate – A double extracted (water and alcohol) tincture of chaga and reishi, two members of the fungus family that have a giant array of health benefits. They are primarily known for being anti-cancer and have supported many through cancer treatments.  They also are wonderful general tonics.  The blend that I create is highly concentrated and includes ginger, cardamom, and cinnamon with fenugreek and raw honey.  A delicious addition to any herbal soda!
  • Chaga Concentrate – pretty much the same thing as the chaga-reishi, without the reishi.
  • Nettle Tincture – helps to support kidneys and overall health and wellness.  Nettles are packed with vitamin K and minerals and are extremely beneficial.
  • St John’s Wort Tincture – helps to support emotions, anxiety, and stress.  Has a calming effect.
  • Tulsi Tincture – a wonderful overall health tonic with so many benefits I couldn’t possibly list them all here, but some are helps with skincare health, has anti cancer properties, protects against respiratory disorders, an excellent source of Vitamin K, and so on.

And the bitters! OH the glorious Bitters!  These are my new found passion. I love making them. They are sort of a treasure box creation, where I mix herbs in the right proportions along with fruits and get some of the most amazing herbal conglomerations that are extremely beneficial to the digestive system.  They can be used alone, but their taste is very very strong and best used in herbal sodas or even cocktails!

The Bitters stock at Sage Moon Apothecary is often fluctuating and changing with whatever I create next.  Some of the Bitter Blends I have created are:

  • Chamomile Blood Orange Bitters
  • Lavender Vanilla Bitters
  • Cardamom Rose Bitters
  • Sunshine Bitters
  • Fire Bitters
  • Golden Root Bitters
  • Sicilian Citrus Bitters

Once you choose what will go into your herbal soda, here’s how to make it:

  • Add ice to a 6-8 ounce glass
  • Add 1-2 Tablespoons of syrup (or syrups – you can use more than one!)
  • Add 1 Tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar
  • Add 1-2 droppers of bitters
  • Add 1-2 droppers of tincture of choice, if using
  • Fill the rest of the glass with sparkling water, or regular water if you don’t want the sparkles.
  • You can add fancy garnishes if you want of springs of herbs or rinds of citrus, if you choose
  • Stir
  • Enjoy!

My favorite medicinal herbal soda tonic recipe that I drink daily as my vitamin and mineral supplement that also supports my immune system and overall health is:

  • ice
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of Sage Moon Apothecary Blood Building Syrup
  • 1 -2 teaspoons of either Lavender or Amorous Rose Syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon of either raw ACV  or Turmeric Ginger Switchel or ACV Elixir
  • 2 droppers full of one of Sage Moon Apothecary’s Bitters – Cardamom Rose and Golden Root are my personal favorites
  • 2 droppers full of Chaga Concentrate or Chaga Reishi Concentrate

For those of you that would love to try your hand at making an herbal infused simple syrup, here’s how you do it:

  1. Add equal parts of water and sugar  (I use organic cane sugar) to a saucepan (1 cup/1cup is a good ratio to start)
  2. Heat to dissolve sugar
  3. This is when I add my herbs and simmer for about 15 minutes.  I turn off the syrup and let cool with the herbs in them and let them sit and steep anywhere from 4 hours to overnight.
  4. Strain and bottle.  There is no need to refrigerate, however refrigeration will allow your syrup to last longer and prevent crystallization of  sugar crystals. If it crystalizes, no worries, it is still good.

The possibilities of herbal sodas are many.  Give them a try as a new and wonderfully delicious way to take your herbals and open the path towards greater health and wellness!

You can purchase any of Sage Moon Apothecary’s products for herbal syrup making at our web store, at local shops and galleries on and around Mount Desert Island, Maine or at our Apothecary in Northeast Harbor, Maine (soon to be Seal Harbor, Maine).




One comment

  1. Really interesting and educational entry. I’ve been looking into bitters and related preparations (both commercial and homemade) – there is a whole world out there.

    Thanks for sharing.


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