We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, nearly 1.5 million people used their mobile devices to visit our sites.
Already a subscriber?
Wow! You read a lot!
Reading enhances confidence, empathy, decision-making, and overall life satisfaction. Keep it up! Subscribe.
Already a subscriber?
Oops, you're out of free articles.
Until next month, you can always look over someone's shoulder at the coffee shop.
Already a subscriber?
We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, we posted 390 stories about the fire. And they were shared nearly 137,000 times.
Already a subscriber?
Supporting the community that supports us.
Obviously you value quality local journalism. Thank you.
Already a subscriber?
Oops, you're out of free articles.
We miss you already! (Subscriptions start at just 99 cents.)
Already a subscriber?

If you're coming down with a cold or already coughing your head off, don't despair.

The companies of the North Bay that blend their own teas are staying busy this winter producing herbal concoctions they say can help soothe sore throats, support immune systems and help you relax and sleep.

"Our business is driven by the cold and flu season," said Traditional Medicinals plant manager Mary Goff, while giving a tour of the Sebastopol factory last month.

"We've had the flu here in California since November, and we're in the middle of our cold season, so we're working overtime."

Other local companies that blend soothing herbal teas include Bungalow Coffee & Tea of Santa Rosa, Taylor Maid Farms of Sebastopol and Mighty Leaf Tea of San Rafael.

Mighty Leaf makes a Chamomile Citrus tea that helps calm the system while providing a boost of vitamin C. Bungalow makes a Hibiscus Blend from the flower traditionally used to alleviate fever and soothe coughs.

Taylor Made makes a Mellow tea, a calming blend that includes chamomile, spearmint and cinnamon bark, traditionally used to soothe upset stomachs and ease cold and flu symptoms.

Traditional Medicinals, founded in 1974 in a small herb shop along the Russian River and since relocated to Sebastopol, sources herbs from all over the world for its line of 54 wellness teas.

Herbalists say that all-herbal teas can alleviate a wide range of non-serious symptoms, from indigestion and sleeplessness to occasional constipation.

The herbal formulations contain the roots, rhizomes, stems and flowers of herbs such as ginger, licorice, raspberries and peppermint.

None of the herbal claims, it should be noted, have been evaluated or substantiated by the federal Food and Drug Administration or FDA.

"We also offer good teas for everyday wellness," said Zoe Kissam, a certified clinical herbalist and associate brand manager at Traditional Medicinals. "One of our missions is to help people discover the power of plants."

The company produces nine different lines of teas, including a new line of 16 herbal teas that highlight the flavor of individual herbs and pairings.

"We've done some consumer research, and people don't even know what an herb is," Kissam said. "They don't always make the connection that these are plants inside of these boxes."

The company's herbal tea blends were first concocted by Rosemary Gladstar, now owner of Rosemary's Garden in Sebastopol. Drake Sadler, co-founder of Traditional Medicinals and now chairman of the company's board of directors, started out selling Gladstar's teas to health food stores up and down the West Coast.

The company sources a high grade of herbs from Europe, Latin America, India and North America to better ensure the teas deliver their intended effect.

There are herbalists on staff who test and taste the herbs for quality control.

"All of our herbs go through nine to 16 tests, all the way through production," Kissam said. "It's a really important component, not just for efficacy but for safety."

The herbalists can often tell if an herb is not up to snuff, even before putting it under the microscope.

"When you use the high-grade chamomile, you should be getting a bit of bitter flavor," Kissam said.

"They know exactly what our herbs should taste like."

Out of the 200 herbs used in the teas, about half are harvested in the wild.

"Some plants cannot be cultivated, based on the way that they grow," Kissam said. "Licorice is a really good example."

The long, hairy roots of the wild licorice plant are found in more than 20 of the company's teas, including two of its best-sellers, Throat Coat and Smooth Move, which relies upon the purgative power of the tropical senna plant.

"Senna can be a bitter herb, so it's good to have herbs to make it more palatable," Kissam said.

"Licorice is known as a harmonizing plant, so it brings a formulation together."

Herbal teas made with stinging nettle have been used to promote joint health.

The common dandelion root is believed to help support the liver, while burdock is used to promote healthy kidneys.

For the digestive system, herbal blends made with peppermint leaves, ginger, fennel seed and dandelion root may be soothing.

"Some of our teas that support healthy liver function are nice between meals," Kissam said.

"If you eat too much and you feel really full, our ginger and peppermint are good for that."

You can reach Staff Writer Diane Peterson at 521-5287 or diane.peterson @pressdemocrat.com.

Show Comment