Reishi has been dancing up and down the Eastern Hemlocks, adorning their bark, in these sylvan woods all spring right into summer.
A dryad called me out one day, she knew they’d matured, and led me through the wilds. A triad of trees here with nymphs hiding in the trunk, a mossy bridge over bubbling water there; she gave me a basket and helped me gather reishi.
I sliced and dried and tinctured and shared, and by the time the roses were bursting with fragrant joy, summoning honey bees to hug them, it came to me to combine the two and make syrup with a twist. The twist being this:
instead of using brandy as the alcohol, I’d make a tincture of reishi, roots, roses, and cacao nibs to use as the alcohol portion, with rose infused honey added to a deep decoction of earthy roots, forest fungus, and herbs from garden and meadow.
My process is as follows should you want to try.
First, I set up my jars with fresh reishi, dried burdock and dandelion roots, split green cardamon pods, fresh roses, dried oatstraw, fresh red clover, fresh tulsi, and cacao nibs in 100 proof vodka and waited for them to tincture for six weeks.
Using the folk method, I added equal parts each of reishi, roots and cacao nibs as the majority, then equal parts of the herbs to fill the remaining space with about 4″ of head room, and around 1 tbsp. cardamom to a quantity of 3/4 gallons (shown in jars below).
So, for example, 1 cup each reishi, roots, and cacao, then eyeball the remaining space less 4″, and if looks like it’ll hold 2 cups of herbs total, add 1/2 cup each of the tulsi, roses, oatstraw, and red clover . . . these numbers are simply to illustrate the ratios, adjust according to the size of jars you are using, and keep in mind:
the roots will expand as they absorb liquid, so don’t pack the jar to the top the way you could with say, calendula! In the picture below, the roots expansion has had the effect of filling the jar to the top even though it started out with head space.
When the tincture was finally done, I strained and saved it, putting all the mash in a large pot, to which I added a bit more fresh reishi, fresh rose, fresh red clover, fresh tulsi, the dried roots, and dried oatstraw.
Filled the pot to the top with water (it’s a 2 gallon pot), brought it to nearly a boil, then immediately put it in the oven at 200 degrees on convection bake for 6 – 8 hours; sometimes it brews for longer.
This method ensures it simmers evenly, slowly, and deeply, extracting the water soluble medicinals. Kept an eye on it and took it out once reduced to between 1/8 to 1/4; roughly 1 quart to 1 1/2 quarts then let it cool completely overnight.
Strained, and squeezed out mash for all remaining liquid to be drawn. I either reuse the mash to make a second decoction in the same way, which I add to the first or I’ll make a simple decoction for drinking purposes instead; I like to reuse the base as much as possible to ensure no goodness goes wasted.
If you do not have a convection oven ( I just got one and was making decoctions in a regular oven or on the stovetop before), no worries, simply set it at the lowest temperature (usually 170 or 180 Fahrenheit) and decoct it for 6 – 8 hours . . . it likely will not reduce as much as in a convection oven, so after brewing for the alloted time, turn off the oven and let it steep and cool overnight. Then strain and reduce the liquid at a simmer (no boiling or bubbling please), either on the stovetop or in the oven, until it’s down to the requisite quantity.
If you’re making a second decoction with the mash, store the liquid from the first run in the fridge until you have both so you can combine and reduce them together. Then continue onward.
When using rose infused (or tulsi) infused honey for syrups, I strain the herbs from the honey and add them to the cooling decoction to infuse.
Once strained, reduced, cool and ready, I stirred in a half part (of the decoction) quantity of honey and then added in the tincture in the same quantity as the honey, and that’s the syrup; scrumptious.
I saved the remaining tincture for making syrup again later (or using as a tincture), as I made more tincture than needed for this quantity of syrup.
I added a few more cacao nibs, split green cardamom pods, and roses to it just because that felt spot on, and stored it in the fridge where some of my syrups (such as elecampane) have lasted for over a year; though I doubt this one will!
I make about a half gallon to a gallon at a time when syruping, as it is a long-drawn-deep process even when you don’t start out with a tincture to use instead of brandy. We use 1 tbsp. daily, and up it to 3 tbsp. daily if feeling nifty. And those cacao nibs floating around, I eat them as we go; so tasty it makes my tongue smile .
Between the reishi, roses, red clover, roots, tulsi, and oatstraw, this syrup is a powerful immune builder, adaptogen, gentle nervine, and alterative heart medicine that tastes superb!
To simplify, when making syrup, use one part decoction with half each parts honey and alcohol (either brandy or this tinctured way). And if you don’t have access to fresh plants and reishi, Mountain Rose Herbs has great quality dry ones where I source cardamom pods, cacao nibs, oatstraw, and sometimes the dandelion + burdock roots.