Radiance Experts: Michael Isted
by Rosie Guest,
We are thrilled to have partnered with Michael Isted of The Herball to create a bespoke herbal infusion especially for Radiance. Here Michael explains a bit more about his background and unique methods.
What inspired you to start creating speciality herbal infusions?
I have always loved drinking plants but felt that the true nature of the plants or herbal teas on offer commercially was hidden and lacked vibrancy. There was no connection between the drinker and the nature in the cup or tea bag. Whilst researching I found that much of the dried herb that comes into the UK is sourced from all over the world and nobody knows exactly when it was harvested or by whom. Take chamomile, for example. Most of the chamomile in the UK, organic or non-organic, is mass produced on farms in countries like Egypt and shipped over to us. That’s not to say that some of it is not good but why is this done? We grow amazing chamomile right here in the UK and across the rest of Europe.
I started The Herball as a way to re-connect people with nature. You can see, taste and identify the plants; we want people to identify with what they are drinking and to feel the benefits of nature on many different levels.
Why are they called infusions and not teas?
As much as I love tea (Camellia sinensis), we create beautiful herbal infusions or what people like to call herbal tea. We do use a beautiful Wuyi oolong tea in our bitters but generally we work with other herbs and plants not tea.
Where and how do you source your ingredients?
We work closely with our growers both here and abroad. We know them personally, they understand the plants, they love the plants they grow and they put their love and devotion back into the earth. There is an incredible amount of good intention in our products this is reflected in the majesty of the herbs we use. We also grow a small amount of the plants ourselves and regularly spend time working directly with our growers. For example the spices in the Radiance Autumn Winter blend are imported directly from very small growers (1-2 acres) we visited last year in Southern India. All herbs and spices we use are grown, harvested and dried from that year, each and every year, so they maintain vibrancy and freshness
Can you tell us a bit about the creative process in terms of coming up with new blends and producing them?
The process is fairly intuitive and obviously dependent on the season and what plants are available to us. It’s about working closely with Mother Nature. The blends are created to reflect the landscape, climate and the health and emotional requirements of our clients. We design blends that take into account our clients' stories, history and vision. It’s a completely holistic approach; there is a reason for each and every herb on an emotional and physical level. The blend must tell a story, take you on a multi sensory journey whilst enhancing mental and physical well-being.
What is your favourite ingredient?
I don’t have a particular favourite, it’s dependent on time of day, time of year, how I’m feeling, who I’m with. There is a plant for every occasion, every emotion - that’s the beauty of it. Of the more exotic plants I have a soft spot for cinnamon (Cinnamon zeylanicum). It's such a welcoming and warming plant with such a diverse range of therapeutic and emotional effects. I’m also enjoying Californian poppy (Eschscholtzia californica) at the moment.
What is your go-to health resource?
Take time to listen to your body, spend more time in nature; the go-to health resource is always close by whether that be a nettle or a dandelion. Love your work, family and friends, drink and eat more plants and spend more time in nature.
What is your vision for 2014 and do you have any long-term goals?
I’m really looking forward to the rest of 2014 to enjoy each and every day working to develop new and exciting ways in which we can enjoy the plants around us. I want to share our knowledge of the plants and show unique, healthy and vibrant ways to integrate the plants into our lives.