I am in love with herbal sodas! And I say they are the newest, best thing to come to herbal medicine, but the truth is they have been around a while. Haymakers punch, which is the basic shrub, has been around a long time. It was a beverage often taken by farmers on long days of laboring in the sunshine and is noted historically as being taken regularly by New England statesmen long ago. And it’s making a comeback, particularly amongst the young hipster crowd, who steers their choices in a healthier direction and may just be leading a revolution towards greater health and wellness through beverages!
Hipsters tend to be the brunt of a lot of jokes and mockery, mostly for their choice of clothing style. However their healthier than average choices and keeping the eclectic alive have great value in a world that is rapidly shifting and changing….and forgetting the simplistic healthy ways of the past. It would serve us well to follow some of their guidance.
So what is an herbal soda and why is it so wonderful?
An herbal soda can be made up of a myriad of things. However, in general, they contain an herbal tonic type simple syrup that is made from herbs infused in water and sweetened with either raw honey or organic cane sugar, a touch of raw apple cider vinegar, over sparkling water with ice.
What herbal syrup you choose will depend on whatever your needs are in that moment. A turmeric ginger syrup will be excellent for conditions of pain and inflammation and for those looking for support for healthy weight loss. An elderberry syrup will give safe and gentle immune boosting support. A lavender syrup will help to soothe the. nervous system and calm things like stress and anxiety. The possibilities are really endless. Sage Moon Apothecary carries a variety of Artisan Syrups and special already made up Eclectic Elixirs that are perfect additions to your herbal sodas if you aren’t ready to make your own. Our selection is always changing depending on the current season’s availability, so check back often.
If your mixing stopped there, you would have what you call a shrub or switchel. It’s delightful, tasty, and oh so good for you! But why stop there?! The endless possibilities get even more endless (if that’s possible) when you bring in the tinctures, bitters, and flower & gemstone essences and create truly magical potions that have the potential to bring about great healing on all levels of being – physical, emotional, mental, energetic, & spiritual! You could potentially heal yourself of all sorts of things, from the simple headache to chronic autoimmune conditions with………wait for it…….SODA!!!!
It might seem like this is all crazy talk…..however there is great validity to it. As an herbalist of 20 years (and a lot of experience in a variety of the healing arts), I will tell you that the most important thing in regards to inviting herbs into your life, is that they are enjoyable to take. People often hear me say that no one is going to choke down capsule after capsule for any great length of time, no matter how good they are for you…..because, quite simply, it’s not enjoyable. When something is enjoyable to do, we tend to do it. And it nourishes far more than just our physical health. It nourishes our spirits – and that is so incredibly important, if not more, than just attending to the physical. When our spirits and emotions are thriving, we tend to make healthier choices for the physical body.
Back to the additions I was speaking of……….
You probably associate bitters primarily with cocktails, an Old Fashioned to be specific….but they are so much more than a snazzy cocktail addition. They are a wonderful digestive and add a special flavor and quality to herbal sodas. In the wellness world, bitters are usually taken shortly before a meal to help stimulate the digestive process, which will lead to better digestion of food. When our digestive process is working better, we will absorb nutrients better. Bitters can be made of a plethora of things, but always have a bitter herb as a main component. When I make bitters, I usually choose gentian, dandelion root, or wild cherry bark as my bitter component, add other herbs to support what I am wanting to create, and then finish it off with something sweet – usually a few pieces of dried fruit, which brings about some depth and rounds the whole thing out a bit. They infuse in alcohol – usually vodka- for anywhere from 2-8 weeks, are stained and ready to go. If you want to get really into the bitter making process, as I am, you begin to time things and add things here and there over the course of the infusion, depending on how they each infuse. For example, if adding a touch of lavender, you want to do this towards the end, or start at the beginning before you add any of your other herbs and infuse it just for a short time. If you leave the lavender to infuse for the entire period, you are probably going to get something that tastes like soap…..and that’s not what we are going for here…unless you are……….what I tend to want to create is just a slight whisper of lavender….just enough so you know it is there, but not enough to taste like something better used in the bathing process. Once you start to play around with bitters, you start to get a feel for the timing of the different plants……experience is going to be your greatest teacher here. What’s really cool about bitters, is that even after you have strained and bottled them up, the continue to age and mellow. And they last forever. They are a tincture, and tinctures never expire and never loose their freshness (even though commercially marked tinctures will say that they do…..its both a marketing ploy to get you to buy more……and also the need to attend to FDA guidelines on labeling of such products). There are a ton of DIY recipes for bitters out there. I encourage you to give one a try and go from there.
Sage Moon Apothecary carries a variety of ever changing Bitters. We create very unique blends that are all so delicious. If you aren’t ready to make your own, take a peak at ours. And perhaps once you give them a try it will inspire you to venture into the world of bitter making!
Tinctures are herbs infused in an alcohol base over a period of 6 to 8 weeks (or sometimes longer) to extract beneficial properties from herbs. Some tinctures, like our Double Extraction Chaga Concentrate, are infused in both alcohol and then a water infusion process, to extract both water and alcohol soluble properties. Tinctures are going to add an extra boost to your herbal sodas and make your products truly medicinal. Some of the tinctures that I recommend for herbal soda additions are Tulsi (overall health support) , Nettles (high vitamin & mineral support), Echinacea (immune boosting – do. not use if you have an autoimmune condition) , Astragalus (immune supporting and a safe alternative for those with autoimmune immune conditions), St. John’s Wort (emotional support)…….but there are so many more you could include depending on your needs. Sage Moon Apothecary carries a small, ever growing line of tinctures made from organic herbs, and usually with an herbal inclusion of some herbs grown right here in our gardens in Seal Harbor, on Mount Desert Island.
Flower & Gemstone Essences
Here’s where you bring in the magic! One of the things I am most passionate about in my wellness practice and path is the use of essences! They are truly complex and magical creations made from extracting and fixing the vibrations of a plant of gemstone in water. It might seem like woo woo fluffy stuff, but they can bring about some of the most profound, lasting healing that I have experienced both professionally in my private practice and personally in my own life. Essences are different than herbs in that there is no actual plant or gemstone component contained, but rather the energy or “spirit” of the material. It makes perfect sense then that these would work first on the spirit/soul level and then trickle their healing magic down into the physical, like a gentle waterfall….often directly their healing in areas you hadn’t even been focusing on. I personally did a 6 week protocol for Lyme, using only essences, under the guidance of a skilled practitioner. I experienced some of the greatest advancements in my health that I have in my life…..and not just physically…….but so much emotional healing that I was shocked! Since there is no flavor to essences, you can basically add whatever ones you want to your herbal sodas without changing the flavor, but with greatly changing the vibrational quality. And all you need is one drop! One drop carries the vibration of the whole. Another fascinating thing about essences is that when they are diluted, such as added to an herbal soda, they, much like a homeopathic, get even more powerful in their effects on the soul/spirit bodies. If this all sounds too good to be true, maybe you should try one of our essences and see for yourself. Or make your own with whatever you are drawn to (flower essences are best made in the sunshine and gemstone essences best in moonlight…..and you can get really snazzy and make them under different astrological transitions to imbue them with all sorts of subtle and not so subtle energies).
Sage Moon Apothecary uses close to 300 different flower and gemstone essences, many that we make ourselves. Our webpage isn’t complete yet with all of the detailed information on them, as we are busy doing other things like making tinctures, and bitters, and promoting healthful herbal sodas! If there is something you are looking for, please contact us, as we are very likely to have something to support exactly that.
Some essences that might be a lovely addition to herbal sodas are Bleeding Heart (for heart support both physical and emotional), Citrine or Topaz (both for third chakra support and greater sense of self and self trust), Rhodonite (a heart stone and the BEST wound healer out there), Lavender (very strong heart energetics), Lepidolite (for depression and mental balance – lepidolite is natural lithium), Tulsi (a very sacred flower and herb), Carnelian (for second chakra support, creativity, sexuality)….and so on…….
Make it even fancier!
You can make your herbal sodas even fancier and artful by the addition of fresh herbs, flowers, and fruit and create a truly one of a kind creation that you may not want to drink because it’s so darn beautiful! One of my favorites is to add blueberries and fresh basil leaves to dance amongst the deliciousness of our Blueberry Basil artisan syrup. I also enjoy anise. hyssop flowers floating in a sea of Lavender Soda!
Get creative and have fun! And get healthier in the process!
If you have any questions on herbal soda making or our products, we would be more than. happy to offer answers. Please email us at sagemoonapothecarymaine@gmail. come or visit us on Facebook.
And stop by our web store and check out all of our current offerings!
The path to health and wellness can be truly enjoyable. You may have to venture out of your familiar comfort zone, but we can pretty much guarantee it’s going to be a lovely walk! When in doubt……follow the beverage choices of the Hipsters!