The Art of Crafting Tonics, Brews, and Elixirs
by Master Herbalist Yarrow Willard
Founder of Harmonic Arts Botanical Dispensary
Crafting elixirs is a fun and inspiring process. The basic formula for crafting is simple, and it is a wonderful art that can evolve over time, as you learn the way different herbs and ingredients work together.
First, you simply begin with setting the intention of the desired effect of the brew. For example, this could be specified health benefits (like, support the liver or kidneys), or energizing-effects, or an emotional lift. Then, craft the tonic with herbs and substances that support that intention. In time you begin to see the magical and synergistic way herbs and superfoods work together to support and boost your overall health.
The basis of crafting a good herbal tonic elixir drink is creating complimentary relationships between the herbs in your tea base, and all the ingredients that you add in afterward. Begin with establishing the desired effect you want your drink to have – and then craft it with ingredients that support this purpose. When formulating, I like to treat the herbs like personalities and create tribes or communities with them. A well-balanced community has a diversity of skills, and purpose that accent and inspire each other – they may all act in different ways, but they also balance each other and fill out the spectrum of vantage points.
Each ingredient you choose should be placed with intention and a purpose to support the desired outcome.
For example, say we want to create a blend to replace a coffee habit and improve or repair some of the damage that coffee can contribute to in the body. So, we start by adding herbs like Burdock and Dandelion Root that work on restoring the liver and kidney function, as well as help pull out toxic load from the blood. We may also want to help stabilize blood sugar, so we add in Devil’s Club. To aid digestion and destroy gut pathogens we can choose Oregon Grape. To reduce inflammation and ease elimination of toxins, we can add in Marshmallow Root, though the dandelion and burdock are also contributing in this area. Lastly, and by no means least importantly, we want it to taste good and have a coffee-like feel, so we add in some roasted Chicory root, that also supports the whole health effect with its high innulin and anti-oxidant content.
This example I have described is the Harmonic Arts “Coastal Roots formula.” It is designed with intention to help aid the body and work like a team, compounding the beneficial effects of each individual ingredient in it. All of the Harmonic Arts formulas are crafted in this way, and many of them lend well to being the herbal base for a tonic elixir drink.
As Coffee has some zip and zing, we can add herbs to the tea or powder blend that create this effect if desired. Good choices are Yerba Mate or Guayusa in the tea or Chocolate, Maca, or Gaurana in the powder mix. This will give you the potent earthy taste and tone of coffee that is so well-loved (especially in the mornings!) – while at the same time, supporting and enhancing our internal processes. Boosting our health, while providing an enjoyable and nourishing sipping experience – perfect combination!
Yarrow Willard is a Clinical/Master Herbalist and co-owner/formulator of Harmonic Arts Botanical Dispensary
Raised with a strong connection to herbs and natural health by two herbalist parents, he is a passionate promoter of plant-based medicine and nutrition. Yarrow is continually updating his knowledge and understanding with the newest approaches and growing edge science of re-claiming our health and restoring internal/external harmony.
His path and purpose is in cultivating a shared connection with the natural world, through living a seasonally balanced holistic approach to life.
With hopes in assisting our collective evolution towards high vitality, he shares health empowering practices with herbs, mushrooms, super-foods, advanced nutrition and more.