Cooling Chrysanthemum is perfect for the long dog days of summer. A part of the Asteraceae family, which famously includes sunflower and Calendula among many others, Chrysanthemum flowers are both pungent and bitter tasting. The bitter characteristic in herbs often helps to clear heat and inflammation from the body. Its cooling properties also make it helpful in the relief of some fevers which is why it can often be found in traditional Chinese formulas for cold and flu.
In addition to its overall cooling action, Chrysanthemum has an affinity for the eyes - said to relieve painful redness and even improve blurriness and spots in the field of vision.
During summers in Tucson, we can benefit simply from enjoying the flower of Chrysanthemum as a sun tea - alone or in combination with other herbs that cool the body and support the heart like hawthorn, rose (the organ associated with this time of year, according to Chinese healing traditions).
Try the recipe below with a squeeze of lime and a touch of local honey for a refreshing respite from the triple digit month of July - OR - try its variation as an herbal bitters to embellish your summer cocktails or mocktails with a flowery finish.
Summer Soother Sun Tea
6 grams Chrysanthemum Flowers
3 g Hawthorn flower/leaf
4 g Lemon Verbena
5 g Damiana flower/leaf
5 g Lavender Blossoms
5 g Chamomile Blossoms
Cover with a gallon of water and set in direct sun for 2-4 hours. Strain and enjoy!
Refreshing Floral Bitters
* Use the same herbal ratios as above, but instead cover with 5 oz of your favorite vodka. Store in a cool dark place and strain after 3-6 weeks. You can add a touch of sweetness to your bitters if you choose.