Welcome to What Our Friends Are Cooking, where we call up our favorite people to find out what they're cooking (or in this case, brewing) and how they're fairing under quarantine.
Waris Ahluwalia of HOUSE of WARIS Botanicals is the man we need right now to help us navigate WFH, distancing, and the shuttering of our favorite places. We chatted with the designer, actor and tea connoisseur about how he's staying connected and grounded through it all. Hint: it involves tea, which one could argue is the world's original wellness product. We hope this inspires you to take a moment and throw a little tea party for yourself today.
Q: What's a typical day like for you right now?
Waris: Morning meditation, calls with the team scattered everywhere doing our best to keep our little rowboat of a company afloat, checking in on friends, a run, FaceTime with mom and my aunt, a family dinner. Lots to fit into the day.
Q: Which tea blend are you making most during quarantine? Why?
Waris: In the early afternoon, I’ve taken to drinking our Immunity One blend. It’s a hearty adaptogenic blend with elderberry, hyssop, amla and cordyceps - taking from Ayurvedic traditions as well as Traditional Chinese Medicine. With herbs, especially adaptogens, the benefits are realized after regular and steady use. My nights are reserved for Night of Nights, our blend made to help you bring about a restful evening.
Q: What are you doing to stay mentally balanced?
Waris: Breathing. Long and deep. It’s free. Doesn’t require a subscription. The best tool we’ve been given and we don’t use it.
Q: How do you prepare your tea at home? Any time of day you drink tea? Any kind of "ceremony" or ritual around your drinking tea?
Waris: This ritual happens several times a day. In the same way much wiser people have made it before me - put the kettle on the fire to boil. Take a teaspoon and gently guide dry leaves onto it - sometimes a ginger lemon green tea, sometimes a turmeric honeybush, sometimes a Love Conquers All. Depending on the time of day. Depending on the mood. Remove the water from the heat as it comes to a boil and pour it over the dry tea leaves, herbs and spices.
Breathe slowly as the crystal clear water gets infused with the healing power of plants. The most important part of this ritual, and unmentioned so far, is that the phone is nowhere to be found during this process.
Q: When you have guests (remember those?), how do you serve it?
Waris: Tea is served on a wooden tray that holds our handmade (in the Hudson Valley) ceramic tea pot and ceramic cups, a brass spoon, with a side of honey.
Q: Your at-home tea "recipe"?
Waris: We use all our blends to make delicious drinks - zero proof or with a splash of alcohol - depending on your desired results.
Here’s a recipe Chef Neal Harden of abcV fame just made for us:
House of Waris Botanicals Sweet Clarity Paloma:
- 5 oz Boiling Water
- 2 bags Sweet Clarity
- 2 tsp Wildflower Honey
- Juice of 1 Ruby Grapefruit
- Juice of 1 Lemon
- Fresh Mint
- Splash of Soda
- 1 big Ice Cube or a few smaller ones
- Garden/Fire Escape Herbs to garnish (optional)
Pour boiling water over tea bags and steep for 10 minutes.
Squeeze out bags and discard.
Stir in honey to warm tea, then chill completely.
When chill, muddle in mint and stir in citrus juices.
Strain into glass over ice and add a splash of soda and herbs if desired.
Makes two small servings in rocks glasses or one large drink.
Keep up with Waris on Instagram at @houseofwaris.