Keep your holidays simple and healthy this year
with herbally inspired gifts. You’ll find something for everyone on
your gift list here, from culinary delicacies to luxurious bath and
body-care products and gifts for the home. Put on your favorite
music, relax with a mug of mulled wine or hot chocolate, and have
fun making gifts and checking out the websites of the companies on
the pages that follow.
You can satisfy the most discriminating tea connoisseur with the unique assortment of black, green, white and herbal teas from Numi. All of the company’s tea blends are made without essential oils or flavorings, and rely instead on herbs, spices and dried fruits for rich flavor. For example, Berry Black is Darjeeling tea blended with freeze-dried strawberries and raspberries. Moonlight Spice is a delicate white tea blended with orange peel, schisandra berries, lemongrass and spices. Even the company’s Earl Grey is naturally scented with real bergamot oranges instead of bergamot flavoring.
Numi’s most unusual offerings are the flowering teas. Fragrant flowers such as rose, jasmine, lavender and chrysanthemum are rolled in green, white or black tea leaves and hand-sewn into artistic bundles by artisans in China. When steeped in a pot of hot water, the leaves burst open into stunning shapes (many look like blooming flowers), making a delicious and beautiful pot of tea.
• Numi Bamboo Treasure Chest filled with 18 assorted teabags: $11.95
• Numi Individual Flowering Tea Bamboo Bins: $16.95
• Numi Flowering Tea Gift Set: A bamboo gift chest containing a bin of Numi’s assorted flowering teas and a glass teapot perfect for appreciating the unfolding tea: $37.95
These truffles are a decadent holiday treat. Infuse the cream with lavender flowers, rose petals, peppermint or orange peel.
1 cup heavy cream
1 to 2 tablespoons dried herb or 2 to 4 tablespoons fresh chopped herb of choice
1 pound bittersweet chocolate
In a medium saucepan, bring cream and herbs to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat, cover, and steep for 10 to15 minutes. Strain. Using a sharp knife, chop chocolate finely and place in a large heatproof bowl. Reheat herb-infused cream to a gentle boil, and pour immediately over chocolate. Let stand for 5 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Leave at room temperature until thickened, about 15 minutes. Pour chocolate mixture into a shallow glass dish. Cover, and refrigerate until mixture is cold and set but still pliable, about 30 minutes.
Using a small spoon, scoop out teaspoons of chocolate and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Chill for 10 to 15 minutes or until firm enough to handle.
Shape chocolate into balls and roll each in powdered cocoa or crushed toasted almonds or hazelnuts. Chill in an airtight container until ready to serve. Will keep for up to two weeks refrigerated.
Guayakí Yerba Maté
A traditional beverage of South America, yerba maté is a satisfying alternative to coffee or tea. Rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, yerba maté has a full-bodied, slightly smoky flavor. Guayakí maté is certified organic and rainforest grown. The company enhances their yerba maté with organic herbs and spices to create a variety of unique blends, including Chai Spice Maté (with cinnamon, licorice, ginger, nutmeg, clove and stevia). Add milk or soymilk for a delicious cup of chai. Other tasty blends include Magical Mint Maté (with peppermint, spearmint and stevia) and Orange Blossom Maté (with orange peel, lemon peel, rosehips, cinnamon and stevia).
Guayakí also partners with the indigenous people of South America to create hand-carved and decorated gourds and bombillas (metal filter straws and spoons) for enjoying maté in the traditional way.
• Guayakí Yerba Maté: 16 tea bags per package, $6.95
• Guayakí Traditional Gourds: $10 to $15
• Bombillas: $8 to $14.
Chocolate doesn’t get any better than this! The winner of numerous prestigious chocolate awards, Dagoba is a family-owned business offering a variety of unique organic chocolate bars, hot cocoa mixes and other chocolate products. All ingredients are organic, and many are Fair Trade Certified. Several of their products are herbally inspired: The Lavender bar is infused with lavender essence and dried blueberries, the Roseberry bar contains dried raspberries and rosehips, and the exotic Xocolatl bar is a spicy blend of dark chocolate flecked with chiles, cacao nibs, maca and nutmeg. Xocolatl is also available as a hot chocolate mix, 12 ounces for $8.60.
• Dagoba chocolate bars, assorted flavors: $3.00
• Dagoba 12-bar sampler (your choice of flavors): $36.00
• Dagoba gift package: 12 assorted chocolate bars, hot chocolate mix and cacoa powder: $55.00
V’Tae Aromatherapy Perfumes
Bath and Body Luxuries
V’Tae offers an array of aromatherapy body-care products based on unique combinations of essential oils. The company’s Esoterics collection, packaged in glass bottles with beautiful gold-trimmed labels, is especially suited for holiday gift-giving. Sensuality is a spicy, exotic combination of rose, sandalwood, ginger, ylang ylang, mandarin and other essential oils; Sacred Fire is a warm, rich fragrance that includes amber, sandalwood, jasmine, frankincense and coriander. Their newest fragrance, Silk Kimono, is a delicate blend of jasmine, lime, sandalwood and other fragrant oils.
• V’Tae Esoterics Collection Eau de Parfum 2-ounce bottle:
• V’Tae Esoterics Collection Sparkling Bath Salts 6-ounce package: $3.95
• V’Tae Esoterics Collection Lotion 8-ounce bottle: $18.00
Nature’s Acres Massage Oils
Created from herbs cultivated and wildcrafted on their organic herb farm, Four Elements Herbals makes an array of beautiful herbal massage oils. Attractively packaged in glass bottles, the nine different herb-infused body oils contain only cold-pressed almond oil, vitamin E, essential oils and herbs. Each contains a decorative herb sprig appropriate for the blend. For example, Wisconsin Violet Body Oil contains a sweet blend of chamomile and orrisroot essential oils and is infused with violets. Invigorating Peppermint-Thyme Body Oil is scented with peppermint essential oil and contains decorative and fragrant sprigs of thyme. Sandalwood-Ginseng Body Oil is a warm, rich blend of sandalwood, rose and cinnamon essential oils and is infused with American ginseng root.
• Nature’s Acres Massage Oils, 4-ounce bottle: $11.00
Heat Treats Herbal Wraps
Heat Treats herbal wraps are the perfect antidote for tired, sore muscles. Filled with flax seeds and lavender flowers, the wraps are made to last and are designed to be heated in the microwave or chilled in the freezer for either hot or cold treatments. The wraps are available in long (perfect for necks and shoulders) and lumbar sizes, and come with removable 100 percent cotton covers in a variety of prints and colors.
Heat Treats Long or Lumbar Wrap: $30.00
Gifts for the Home
Fred Soll’s incense
Made from natural ingredients, Fred Soll’s incense is created from aromatic resins such as frankincense, myrrh and pine mixed with dried herbs, spices, flowers and berries. The production process, which involves making the incense by hand and drying it in the New Mexico sun, produces superior incense, with each stick averaging one to two hours of burning time. With 48 different scents to choose from — ranging from Sacred Sage and New Mexico Sandalwood to Joyous Rose and Lovely Lavender — there’s something to please everyone.
• Fred Soll’s incense sticks: 20 sticks for $10.00
• Fred Soll’s incense cones: 10 cones for $11.00
Aroma Naturals candles
Only the purest natural essential oils are used to scent Aroma Naturals’ beautiful and colorful array of candles. The handcrafted candles are available in either a vegetable/soy wax blend or food-grade paraffin wax; both have clean-burning cotton wicks. The 25 different fragrance blends are exquisite, and include an uplifting Vitality candle (peppermint and eucalyptus), soothing Meditation (patchouli and frankincense) and sensual Passion (nutmeg and ylang ylang). Aroma Naturals candles are offered in a variety of sizes ranging from votives to pillars, and some are available in travel tins, which make terrific stocking stuffers. Special gift packs perfect for the holidays are also available.
• Aroma Naturals Variety Gift Set (candle in glass holder, pillar candle and travel candle): $29.50
• Aroma Naturals Votive Gift Set (four assorted votive candles in glass holders): $22.00
Laurel Vukovic writes and teaches about herbs and natural healing from her home in southern Oregon. She is the author of 1001 Natural Remedies (DK, 2003) and Herbal Healing Secrets for Women (Prentice Hall, 2000).