Dear friends, we are gathered here today to discuss something important. The topic at hand is a very potent herb. This herb also happens to smell and taste how stubbornness would if it were possible to smell or taste it. I have gathered you here today to discuss my love hate relationship with the herb valerian.

All the valerian in a single place.
All the valerian in a single place.

I heard about valerian many years ago. The circumstances escape me, but I know that I liked it from the first time I heard about it. I always imagined it to be tasty, something like thyme or basil. It turns out that I didn’t know much about that herb at all because I learned that a.) you don’t use the leaves for tea, you use the roots and b.) the roots DO NOT taste like thyme or basil. Valerian is in a league all its own.

A Bit About Valerian

Valerian’s latin name is Valeriana officinalis. There are many different species in valerian’s plant family, but V. officinalis is the one that is most commonly used. As previously discussed, the root is the part of the plant that is used the most. It’s been used as a sleep aid since Ancient Greek times, where Hippocrates documented its use. It’s native to Europe and Asia, but can also be grown in the Americas. I got this information here

It’s also a jerk. 

A Lingering Taste In My Mouth

You might be wondering why I have been referring to valerian as a jerk. The short answer is because it tastes bitter. The longer answer is a rant. Brace yourselves, friends. 

I mentioned before that I thought valerian would taste like other herbs. I was in for a rude awakening. When I went to the herb store the other day, I asked to smell valerian. The owner let me smell some. I knew from that point forward that we were gonna have a good, old fashioned love-hate relationship. I took some home and brewed it up along with some very pleasant other herbs like lemongrass, jasmine, chamomile, honeysuckle, etc. to make a sleepytime tea. When I drank the tea, the result was rather odd. 

If I had to describe it visually, it’d look something like: 

jasmine+chamomile..bitterbitterbitterbitter…VALERIAN…smooth, sweet finish. I would have been fine with that had the bitter taste of valerian not LINGERED in my MOUTH. To make matters worse, the valerian taste built up on my tongue. I was displeased. 

All this being said, valerian did its job. I was out cold for the whole night. I had some weird dreams, but they weren’t bad and the night was uneventful otherwise. 

The Taste Of Stubbornness

I love valerian for what it can do. I’m working on incorporating it into blends. Last night’s blend was a party in a cup and valerian was invited. It also knocked me the heck out again, which was super nice. 

I call it the taste of stubbornness because valerian will have its way in a blend. I’m scared to try it on its own because of what happened the other night with the flavor sticking out like a sore thumb. That being said, I used cinnamon last night to balance it out. It worked! I added the valerian first and added everything else to match its intensity. 

This same tactic also works with other bitter herbs like vervain and agrimony. Add them first, I’ve found,then blend the other ingredients to match. 

Tea blending is fun, friends! Are there are any blends you want me to try? I have more rooibos than I know what to do with..

Thank you for reading!

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