The Calm After the Storm is one of the aphrodisiac recipes in our "Seafoam" series, in which we attempt to queer the traditional aphrodisiac. We cordially invite you to embark on our odyssey of love— where crew members across species interact with one another in transforming adventures of various forms. Keep a loving eye on our blog as we update experimentation and taste testing of the recipes.
Though both are popular warm beverages, a cup of herbal tea differs quite a bit from a cup of coffee. The latter energizes and accelerates, regardless of whether we truly want it or not. How many cups of coffee have we mindlessly chugged in our half-awake state! Some of us have reached the point of exhaustion and tolerance for caffeine that we simply cannot chug on throughout the day without it. The most recent Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM-5, even added caffeine use disorder as a diagnosable condition. Herbal tea, on the other hand, often specifically refers to tea without Camellia sinensis, without caffeine, gentle to the stomach. Many of us have it at dusk, when we would like to call an early night to a long day. Lest it over-steep or grow cold, we are required to take our eyes off the screen for awhile and tend to the beverage. Caressing the smooth roundness of the mug, we are consoled by its warmth. Its aromatic steam tells us that there is no need for rush. Rising to our nostrils and lips, the tea becomes a part of us.
Drying is a slow process that settles in the liminal space between life and decay, that momentarily captures the olfactory essence of the flowers in their fragile leaves and petals.
The Japanese tea ceremony, sadō (茶道, "The Way of Tea") may be one of the slowest and most deliberate way for one to interact with their tea, the surroundings and the person with whom one is savoring the moment. Tea master Sen no Rikyū distilled the philosophy of sadō as ichi-go ichi-e (一期一会, “one time, one encounter”), emphasizing the finitude and transitoriness of any given moment, which in turn makes the beauty of the moment all the more intense and poignant. How many moments does one let slip through their fingers without acknowledging them? How many mornings does one pass with equally forgettable cups of coffee? Not conscious of the days that go on and on, one feels like one is not living at all.
Pouring this tea for your beloved, sitting in front of you in silence, you are telling them that they have managed and will manage, that they have done well, that they should take a rest, that you care about them. Words are not necessary.
Goldenrod symbolizes encouragement.
Blackthorm is symbolic of hope in difficult times, and protection. It also means serendipity, destiny, fate and all other kinds of whimsies that allowed for this tea time.
Chicory— “The piercing blue flowers appear from late spring right through to late autumn and the strong, deep perennial roots and the flat leaf rosettes protect the plant through the winter. No wonder that chicory was a symbol of perseverance and endless waiting as well as a protector of the martyrs in the Christian Middle Ages. It is also valued as a food and as a remedy” (Kendler & Ullrich). Edward Bach (1886–1936), British doctor and spiritual writer, prescribed chicory as treatment for those that suffer from self-pity, and as a teaching of selfless love, a love that transcends the past self (Storl).
Lemon balm symbolizes empathy, femininity, relaxation, rejuvenation.
Chamomile has many medicinal uses, such as for hay fever, inflammation, insomnia, ulcers and other stress-related ailments.
Stinging nettle stings painfully when touched, but becomes as tender as spinach when boiled. In several fairy tales it represents overcoming of adversity, such as in Andersen's The Wild Swans, where heroine Elisa weaves stinging nettles into shirts for her eleven brothers to lift the curse that transformed them into swans during the day. Aesop once said "Gently touch a nettle and it'll sting you for your pains / Grasp it as a lad of mettle and soft as silk remains", an adage to confront one's conflicts directly and resolutely.
Japanese knotweed is a pleasantly tangy plant, reminding of rhubarb, that rises from the volcanic ash (to read more about this amazing plant, check out Mediamatic's proposal to proclaim it as the national flower of the Netherlands).
Sage gets its name from Latin salvare "to save", and has been burned by Native Americans to purify a space from spiritual harm. The ancient Egyptians and Romans also used them to treat gastrointestinal and memory problems. For me, its earthy, musty scent always reminds of a sturdy old man, like the one from The Old Man and the Sea, who said, "A man can be destroyed but not defeated".
Dandelion, radiant like the sun in the cracks between concrete tiles, is the floral embodiment of victory after challenge, overcoming of difficulties, an emotional healing, a gift to a loved one, a token of faithfulness.
Kendler, Riklef, and Wolfram R. Ullrich. "Symbolism of plants: examples from European-Mediterranean culture presented with biology and history of art: Chicory." Journal of Experimental Botany 60, no. 14 (2009): 3973-3974. https://doi.org/10.1093/jxb/erp248
Storl, Wolf D. 2016. A Curious History of Vegetables: Aphrodisiacal and Healing Properties, Folk Tales, Garden Tips, and Recipes. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books.
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