State Your Scientific Name
Our first job is to make sure that the herbs we’re using are what they claim to be. We call it identity testing. You might think that would be pretty obvious – doesn’t chamomile always look like chamomile? – but there are a lot of herbal doppelgangers out there. And even if it actually is chamomile, not all chamomile is created equal. We’re looking for specific characteristics of each batch of herbs that determine quality. One of the first steps our herbalists go through, after examining a new batch, is to put a sample from each shipment under the microscope. There we see each individual flourish, whirl, and spiral that indicates the herb’s identity.
Pure of Herb
Now that we know the plant’s identity, we have to test its true character. We only want the pure herb in your tea bag, not some of the nasties like wayward plant parts, leftover sand or dirt. We also look at water content to make sure the herb has been dried properly, and we check for microbes, heavy metals, and, if non-organic, pesticide residues. (Not in our teas, thank you!)
Tests of Strength
It takes a lot of testing to make sure that our high standards are met. Our in-house and suppliers’ labs conduct testing to be absolutely, completely sure that we are getting the systems-invigorating, body-balancing quality we need.
For example, herbs like marshmallow and slippery elm rely on texture to perform their jobs. These are mucilaginous, which means they are high in mucilage, a slimy (in a good way) substance that produces a slippery, coating effect. On the other hand, many herbs, like peppermint, rely on essential oil content. We use a wide range of tests to make sure our herbs are strong enough to join the proud ranks of Traditional Medicinal product offerings.
Taste, texture, and aroma are a very important but sometimes overlooked part of herbal remedies. For example, dandelion’s liver support is due in large part to the bitter tasting compounds in the herb*. The bitter taste stimulates the taste buds. The cupping team, led by our professional blendmaster, tastes and smells a brewed cup and evaluates its properties. This sensory evaluation helps us make sure that each herbal blend has the right taste and aroma.