Appalachian Tea Ceremony
What exactly is an Appalachian Tea Ceremony and why might you want to come?
Well, tea ceremonies have been around for thousands of years, honoring the plant Camellia sinensis, better known as Tea.
In the Appalachian Tea Ceremony, we take the idea of tea time to another realm. An herbal infusion is the liquid that we imbibe, and each ceremony honors a different plant, depending on the time of year.
This idea of an Appalachian Tea Ceremony came to my friend and mentor Jessie Wilder in 2016, who invited me to co-create one with her at an annual summer gathering we attend. In 2019, I got the inspiration to host them every other week, so that we can continue to steep ourselves in plant wisdom year round.
Due to the logistics of making an herbal infusion, I make the brews before the ceremony and have them ready to serve. There is a single plant highlighted that is served first, and then later in the ceremony I will serve a blend which has this highlighted plant in it.
A more adequate name would be an Appalachian Herbal Infusion Ceremony but that doesn’t sound as catchy:-) An infusion is allowing the plant material to be steeped in hot water for half an hour to hours; herbal tea or tisane is when the plant material is steeped only for a few minutes, similar to how Tea is prepared.
The tea ceremony is a local, medicinal, caffeine-free, open-hearted herbal opportunity for acknowledging the sacred in everyday. A time for slowing down and giving thanks and being present with whatever is bubbling up inside of you that day.
It is as much an infusion of the people who attend it, as it is of the herbs themselves. Each ceremony makes its own flavor.
- Depending on the weather, we offer the ceremony in the gazebo or on the grounds/gardens of this beautiful farm. I make a centerpiece honoring the four elements.
- We sit on backjacks on the ground, although there are chairs for anyone who would like them – the most important thing is to feel comfortable.
- We take a few moments to be still and quiet and feel our breath moving in and out of us while receiving a sound bath.
- We hold our mug, bow and acknowledge our ancestors.
- We practice deep listening. We go deeper with the plants. Sometimes I sing a song.
- We share tea. We share story. We share.
In the end, I offer a salutation, we give back any remaining tea to Earth Mother, and we move into the next layer of the day, hopefully with a more calm, peaceful way of being.
Please do come and find out for yourself! And check out this interview on the ceremony in the EatWeeds Podcast or on our local radio station or you could read a wonderful description of it in the second edition of Steve Lorch’s book “How to Make and Grow Tea in the United States.”