Finding Your Cure at the Bottom of a Cup

Try replacing Advil with echinacea and Tylenol with thyme to potentially reap health benefits that also taste good. Out with the old, in with the brew.

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If you've never been a fan of downing syrups for scratchy throats or popping pills when a headache strikes, it might be time to try a medicinal alternative: tea. "I only had six blends of tea when I opened, and now I have hundreds," says Sarah Richards, owner of Homegrown Herb and Tea in Portland, ME. "All my teas have been inspired by customers who needed cures for things, and through that process, I've become tenfold the herbalist I was when I started."

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Homegrown Herb and Tea is one part teahouse, one part apothecary: customers who wander in will find themselves at the service of Richards, born and raised in New Sharon, Maine, who will just as happily prescribe you a tea for its health benefits as she will recommend one for its taste. "I first started making my teas using a medicinal herb encyclopedia," Richards tells us, "which has all sorts of information about the medicinal action of the plants and breaks down the chemical components. Originally I was only making blends for myself when I had an ailment. First I would choose herbs based on their medicinal value, then I would add other herbs to make it taste good." Soon, however, word of Richards' all-natural experiments spread, and she found herself with requests coming in from all over town for her cure-all teas.

"The magic in a cup of tea is that it tastes good, it smells good, and it feels good." –Sarah Richards

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Homegrown Herb and Tea will turn ten years old this November, as Richards' studies of Ayurvedic medicine and Western herbalism continue to gain a following. "I think my success is based on the fact that my teas are delicious," she explains. "What keeps people coming back is that when the tea heals them, it not only feels like magic, but also tastes good. It has to be enjoyed by your senses or you won't continue to drink it. The magic in a cup of tea is that it tastes good, it smells good, and it feels good."

What's bothering you? Fix it with one of these Homegrown Herb and Tea brews yourself!

For Migraines:

Headache Tea, $14 for 2 oz.

Chamomile, basil, lavender, and thyme.

For Allergies:

Allergy Tea, $14 for 2 oz.

Nettles, echinacea, dandelion, burdock, marshmallow, licorice root, coltsfoot, spearmint, chamomile, and jasmine.

For Cramps:

Cramp Tea, $14 for 2 oz.

Cramp bark, motherwort, pennyroyal, red raspberry leaf, white willow, kava kava, rosemary, nettle, and orange peel.

For Stress:

The Stress Doctor, $14 for 2 oz.

Holy basil, saw palmetto berries, kava kava root, rose petals, hibiscus, orange peel, and ginseng.

For Waking Up:

The Wake Up Call, $10 for 2 oz.

Organic yerba mate, cinnamon, clove, anise, ginseng, and peppermint.

For insomnia:

The Nightcap, $14 for 2 oz.

Valerian root, linden flowers, chamomile, lavender, hops, and lemon balm.

For Coughing:

Cough Tea, $14 for 2 oz.

Coltsfoot, mullein, sage, thyme, red clover flower, marshmallow root, licorice root, slippery elm, anise, hyssop, echinacea, and eucalyptus.

For Inner Balance:

Aphrodi-tea, $10 for 2 oz.

Sarsaparilla, sage, gotu kola, ginger, rose petals, Solomon's seal, and spearmint.

All teas available at, or visit Homegrown Herb and Tea at 195 Congress Street in Portland, ME.

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