This herbal alchemy thing is not a game! I really believe in the extraordinary power of plants. By blending roots and flowers and leaves together with intention, I am actually making medicine for the body. From the time I was a kid, I was instilled with this respect for the natural world’s healing abilities. My mom would give us chamomile tea for upset stomachs, aloe vera gel straight from the plant for burns, and an array of aromatherapeutic oils for different ailments.
I can’t remember exactly when I started blending herbs for my own health and enjoyment, but it’s been quite some years now. I started making kombucha about ten years ago, and I have always enjoyed infusing the tea with delicious and nutritious plants to add to the probiotic benefits of the fermented tea.
So, how do you know which herbs are right for you? There are so many, each with a multitude of healing properties, and of course each of our bodies may have different reactions to the plants. I can’t prescribe something to you as a doctor would, but I can tell you what has worked for me, and why I make the blends I do!
Let’s start with my Spiced Herbal Coffee. Why is it called herbal coffee? Well, it’s dark and rich like coffee, and it goes great with cream and honey. I like raw local honey from Sonoma County with coconut milk! Also, you can add half and half or almond milk, or whatever kind of creaminess and sweetness you like. The roasted chicory root is great for your digestion and since I am now using chicory root powder instead of chunky chicory root, the powder dissolves in the hot water and gives a nice body to the beverage. Dandelion root is great for liver function and digestion, breaking down fats. Ginger root is wonderful for digestion, easing the stomach, as well as being very warming. Cinnamon is good for cholesterol and is warming as well. Pau d’arco is known for its active ingredient, lapachol, which is an excellent immune booster, even known to kill cancer cells.
How about my Artemis Brew? I created this specifically for women, although men love it too. I like to think of myself as a missionary for raspberry leaf! I have found such relief from raspberry leaf tea for uterine cramps. This is great to drink all month, but specifically right before and during your moon time (menstrual bleeding). This brew is bolstered by rose hips, the fruit of the rose plant, containing high doses of vitamin C, which is good for the immune system. Rose hips are also high in vitamin A, which is good for the skin. Also they are known to work as a gentle laxative, good for constipation. Hibiscus helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels, lowers blood pressure + is high in anti-oxidants (vitamin C), fighting free radicals that damage cells in our bodies. Rose petals are known to be calming, to ease menstrual cramps + have a soothing effect on the stomach. Pau d’arco is part of this as well, one of my favorites. Known to be an antibiotic, antifungal, antitumor, antiviral, digestive, diuretic, fungicidal, antidiabetic, analgesic, astringent and parasiticide. Pau d’arco is great for the immune system and to combat yeast in the body.
My Kava Dreamtime Brew features the euphoric kava-kava, from the South Pacific islands, used ceremonially to make people feel euphoric, tranquil + sociable. Known to reduce anxiety, help depression, used as an anesthetic, to treat sleep problems, among other benefits. Kava is banned from some countries because of potential harm to the liver and because it is such a strong medicine. It is not recommended for pregnant women or children under twelve, and not recommended to be combined with alcohol. This is a serious plant! Chamomile is good for soothing the stomach, known to be used as a sleep aide. Mugwort is also known for easing anxiety, stress, and insomnia. Good for menstrual cramps + to regulate hormones during menopause. Lavender is good for insomnia, restlessness, to ease headaches, upset stomach and to stimulate the appetite. Again, this strong brew is not recommended for pregnant women.
My Ritual Smoking Blend is surprisingly one of the most popular things I make! I love the ritual act of smoking, though I don’t smoke cigarettes. This is a great alternative to tobacco, or to be blended with cannabis. Mullein is an expectorant, which means it is good to remove phlegm from the lungs. It helps clean you out! Mugwort, again, is a dreamy herb and causes a euphoric feeling when smoked. Lavender and Spearmint offer subtle flavor notes, reminiscent of being in an open field of wildflowers and herbs. Raspberry leaf is a traditional herb smoked by Native American tribes, and very commonly found in herbal smoking blends.
I hope this information is useful and inspiring! Please let me know if you have any questions, comments, suggestions! I am in my test kitchen today brewing up two new herbal teas and one new smoking blend. Get excited! I will be featuring blue cornflower, chrysanthemum, calendula, and red clover flower… Coming soon!
noun ( pl. -ties)
the state or fact of having a duty to deal with something or of having control over someone : women bear children and take responsibility for child care.
• the state or fact of being accountable or to blame for something : the group has claimed responsibility for a string of murders.
• the opportunity or ability to act independently and make decisions without authorization : we would expect individuals lower down the organization to take on more responsibility.
• (often responsibilities) a thing that one is required to do as part of a job, role, or legal obligation : he will take over the responsibilities of overseas director.
• [in sing. ] ( responsibility to/toward) a moral obligation to behave correctly toward or in respect of : individuals have a responsibility to control personal behavior.
In a culture that values youth, beauty, new gadgets, and fast food, the word responsibility can seem scary – or even worse – boring! I have actually found power in the concept of responsibility as it relates to being accountable for my own life.
When I take the definition “the opportunity or ability to act independently and make decisions without authorization” I feel compelled to act responsibly, as it indicates freedom of being. Being responsible, I can make my own decisions without anyone’s approval. I take the risk, I get the reward. However, this still may seem like an abstract or “pie in the sky” concept. How could responsibility actually be rewarding?
I have had numerous jobs in the food service industry: bussing tables at a white tablecloth covered hell as an eighteen year old, being a hostess at a “California cuisine” restaurant where the owner regularly fired people for no apparent reason, working in the kitchen for a good friend catering weddings (do NOT come in the kitchen unless you are the event coordinator, we do not need to make you a special meal because of your gluten sensitivity), passing hors d'oeuvres for celebrities and people who would rather pretend you are invisible than say “no thank you” to my small plated treats. Some of these experiences were enjoyable, some down right miserable, but all served a purpose. By taking these jobs, I was able to pay my bills, travel, make independent media, have a flexible schedule, and participate in various creative projects of my choosing. However, I didn’t feel fully empowered because so much of my time was given to others without complete personal fulfillment. I knew that I wouldn’t always be working these jobs, but I didn’t have a “long term plan”.
July of 2013, a friend introduced me to Jessica Koslow of SQIRL, a high-quality, farm-to-table brunch spot in my neighborhood. I needed work and she was hiring. I didn’t think I would be taking yet another restaurant job but my bank account told me I better find something ASAP, and this seemed like a great opportunity. I was able to be a part of a business that was serving the best food, coffee, I could walk to work, and I loved my co-workers! I had been making kombucha and herbal tea blends at home for years, and Jessica allowed me to experiment with some new beverages at SQIRL. I was grateful to put my creativity to work in a culinary setting!
I had a great passion for wellness and natural healing, and I was going in the direction of creating myself as a holistic wellness expert. I had finished a year-long course certifying me as a Health Coach with Institute for Integrative Studies in NYC. I continued blending herbs at home, spreading the word of #herbalalchemy via Instagram and Facebook, starting to invent myself as an Herbal Alchemist – something new and unique to me. To bring the definition of responsibility back into the conversation, “the state or fact of being accountable or to blame for something” - I was being accountable to myself for creating a new possibility for work and lifestyle that I felt fulfilled by, and I knew this could transcend the day-to-day work I was in at the moment.
Eventually another chef, Greg Arnold, recruited me to conceive a beverage menu for Mesa Verde, a new plant-based restaurant about to open in Santa Barbara. This was truly a dream job. I was given full reign to invent herbal teas, super-food smoothies, juice recipes, and innovative kombuchas. I started playing around in the kitchen before the restaurant opened, being creative, fully immersed in my art of alchemical beverages! It was very fulfilling.
I knew this wasn’t the end game. People started asking me, “What’s next?!” “Are you opening your own spot?” “Where can I buy your kombuchas?” Starting a storefront or restaurant is a huge responsibility, one with much risk and stress and paperwork involved, and though I considered it, I knew this was not the time. Eventually the concept of Wild Coyotea came into focus: I could make herbal blends, package them beautifully, and sell them in my own online store! I started saving money, working on the blends, taking steps toward this dream. I decided to leave LA, move back to my family’s property in Northern California, and use my resources wisely. Although I was giving up a dynamic lifestyle in Silver Lake, Los Angeles (my favorite neighborhood + city), I knew I would be much more focused and grounded in Sonoma County. These decisions were actually quite easy to make when I realized what it was I wanted. I was taking responsibility for my own life, making plans, taking the steps, knowing it would be a lot of work, but very rewarding to have my own business!
Wild Coyotea is still in its infancy. There will be more herbal teas, more smoking blends, more handmade products in my store to come. There will be more collaborations, tea parties, and eventually I will sell my products in stores. I have my work cut out for me! I wear many hats, am head of all the departments: production, shipping, marketing, newsletter, blog, events, product development, accounting! By taking this on, I have created much work for myself, but also a sense of pride and love and optimism that wouldn’t exist if I was still working for someone else.
Not everyone needs to own a business or even start a big project, but I hope that this will inspire you to be accountable to yourself for your life. Make adjustments to raise the bar of your own fulfillment. Make plans, ask for support, cut back on excessive spending and start a little savings account. Whatever it is, you are the one that gets to choose. Enjoy your life, take on this new year with a heart full of personal responsibility!
With Love + Encouragement,
Califa Coyote Weiss
This is insanely easy to make. Takes 5 minutes!
- 2 cups coconut or almond milk - find my almond milk recipe here. I actually use coconut milk from the can! It's the creamiest and most delicious for this recipe. Plus, the fat from coconut is incredibly healthy and satisfying.
- 3 Tablespoons Raw Cacao
- 2 Tablespoons Raw Honey
- Dash Cinnamon
- Dash Turmeric
- Dash Cayenne
- Sprinkle sea salt
In a saucepan on medium heat, add all ingredients and stir until creamy.
YUM! Let me know what you think or if you have any suggestions.
First of all, YAYYYYYYY!!!!! Thank you everyone for your positive feedback and generosity and willingness to support me in this endeavor. It is so much fun for me to have a product I am actually sending to people in the mail! So tangible and lovely. And I love that I get to share myself, recipes, inspiring elements, etc. through the interwebs. What a community I have!
Here's a kombucha recipe that I have been using for years. It has changed a little bit, and I encourage you to be intuitive and play with your recipe. Let me know what works for you!
*Boil one gallon of filtered water
*Turn off stove
*Add 1 - 1 1/2 cups of organic cane sugar and about 7-10 tea bags (or loose leaf equivalent) to hot water. You can also add herbs to steep for flavor/medicinal purpose.
*Stir to dissolve sugar
*Let the hot sweet tea steep for about 15 minutes
*Strain the tea bags/loose leaf tea
*Let the sweet tea sit until room temp
*If you have kombucha culture in the fridge now is a good time to remove from fridge and let it warm up to room temp.
*When the sweet tea and the kombucha starter are at the same temp, pour the sweet tea into a gallon jug (or bigger) with a wide rim. With clean hands, and NO METAL (jewelry etc) place the kombucha culture into the sweet tea and pour the kombucha "starter fluid" in there as well
*Cover the brew with a breathable material, towel, paper towel, etc, and secure with a rubber band or string so bugs can't go swimming!
*Start tasting your brew after five days. You will know it's ready when it has the right sweet/sour flavor (it's up to you! Brewing longer will result in a more sour flavor. You can also let it ferment to kombucha vinegar).
*When it's ready, remove a cup of the liquid and the kombucha culture (or cultures, it's possible a new baby has grown in the past week!) Set this liquid and culture/s aside for a new batch.
*Bottle the kombucha in sealable bottles ie mason jar or swing-top bottles (you can get them at IKEA for cheap!)
*Let these bottles ferment a day or two longer at room temp, they will get fizzy! You can also add some simple syrup or fruit for extra fermentation/fizziness here (this is a second fermentation).
*Refrigerate to stop the fermentation!
*You have made your own kombucha! Congrats!
“To accept the challenge of the unknown is the only way to grow.” Osho
Starting a business making herbal blends is a whole new adventure for me. I’ve been living a vibrant and healthy lifestyle forever, always surrounded by opportunities to learn more about wellness, nutrition, alternative care. I have been passionate about creating delicious drinks since I was about 5 when my mama got me a kids cookbook with a few smoothie recipes. That’s 25 years experimenting with beverages that are not only tasty but also support our overall wellbeing. In the past few years I’ve been developing recipes for restaurants and blogs, which has been very rewarding. I love creating a new recipe, seeing it on a menu, and hearing feedback from someone who just tried kombucha for the first time!
In the past 6-12 months, I have been hearing nonstop from my community, asking me when I’m going to start my own shop/brand/product line. I reassured them that whatever was coming next would be in perfect alignment with my life, that it would flow effortlessly and not feel too much like something I had to FORCE. When the idea for Wild Coyotea finally came to me, everything really started falling into place. I committed to creating this small business which feels in line with who I am and what I stand for, and my community gave me a resounding YES, offering multitude of ways to help, support, get out the word. I am currently working to finalize my packaging and will shortly have four very wonderful products I am wholeheartedly proud of. Coming very soon, three herbal teas and one ritual smoking blend! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support, love, and encouragement. It really means I am on the right path, serving you in the best way I can.
Whatever it is that calls your heart, follow that soft (or loud!) sound! Be patient with yourself and allow yourself to create from a place of self-worth and self-knowing. Everyone has something wonderful to offer. I love you!
Here are some herbs we use in our blends at Wild Coyotea. This is not meant to treat or diagnose any ailment, but to provide some more information on our products.
Kava-kava is from the South Pacific islands, used ceremonially to make people feel euphoric, tranquil + sociable. Known to reduce anxiety, help depression, used as an anesthetic, to treat sleep problems, among other benefits. Kava is banned from some countries because of potential harm to the liver and because it is such a strong medicine. It is not recommended for pregnant women or children under twelve, and not recommended to be combined with alcohol. This is a serious plant!
Chamomile is good for soothing the stomach, known to be used as a sleep aide. Also NOT recommended for pregnant women as it may cause contractions.
Mugwort is also known for easing anxiety, stress, and insomnia. Good for menstrual cramps + to regulate hormones during menopause. Also NOT recommended for pregnant women.
Lavender is good for insomnia, restlessness, to ease headaches, upset stomach and to stimulate the appetite. Ok for pregnant women in small doses.
Raspberry leaf has many health benefits, specifically for women. It eases menstrual cramps and is said to strengthen the uterus during pregnancy, making for easier childbirth.
Hibiscus helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels, lowers blood pressure + is high in anti-oxidants (vitamin C), fighting free radicals that damage cells in our bodies.
Rose petals are known to be calming, to ease menstrual cramps + have a soothing effect on the stomach. Also contains vitamin C (anti-oxidant)
Rose hips are the fruit of the rose plant and contain high doses of vitamin C, which is good for the immune system. High in vitamin A, good for the skin. Also known as an anti-inflammatory. Gentle laxative, good for constipation.
Pau d’arco is a tree bark that has incredibly varied health benefits. Lapachol, the active component of the inner bark of this tree is known to be an antibiotic, antifungal, antitumor, antiviral, digestive, diuretic, fungicidal, antidiabetic, analgesic, astringent and parasiticide. Pau d’arco is great for the immune system and to combat yeast in the body.
St. John’s Wort is a known anti-depressant. Warning: Not to be used in combination with prescription Rx: MAOI, SSRI
Chicory root is good for digestion as it increases bile flow because of inulin, a soluble fiber, which is a powerful probiotic, aiding healthy flora in the digestive tract. It is also good for liver detoxification, and has anti-fungal + anti-bacterial properties. Chicory is also known to be a mild sedative.
Dandelion root also has many benefits related to the digestive system. Detoxifying to liver, gallbladder + kidneys. Anti-inflammatory properties may help reduce pain. Also an effective diuretic (increases urine output). Helps with fat digestion.
Ginger root is a super-herb. Benefits include anti-inflammatory properties, helps with nausea and digestion, is warming to the body by increasing blood circulation. Great for people with arthritic symptoms as swelling reduction lessens pain. Ginger is also known to kill cancer cells.
Cinnamon is good for digestion, to fight bacterial and fungal infections, and to soothe muscle spasms and pain. Known to stabilize blood sugar and lower LDL (bad cholesterol) levels.
Pau d’arco is a tree bark that has incredibly varied health benefits. Lapachol, the active component of the inner bark of this tree is known to be an antibiotic, antifungal, antitumor, antiviral, digestive, diuretic, fungicidal