It’s January and the season of cleanses and detoxes is upon us. Full disclosure: I don’t really go in for the idea of cleanses. I’m far too devoted to cheese and chocolate to imagine voluntarily giving them up. But I do like the idea of resolutions, and for me a perennial resolution is to drink more water.
In the summertime I tried to trick myself into drinking more water by dreaming up elaborate herbal additions: sweet woodruff, strawberry and stevia, lovage and lemon balm. (See Herbal Essence: Just Add Water.) But now that winter is here and beautiful California citrus is making my wind-whipped New York eyes smart with desire, I’ve decided to make an herbal water that’s refreshing and citrus-y, with the optional addition of a little something that’s downright risqué.
If I were to lose my mind and subsist only on this water for a day or two, I might consider it a cleanse, but for now let’s just call it rejuvenating and agree that keeping a pitcher of it desk-side this winter might be a good idea.
Photographs by Erin Boyle.
Above: The main players. The amounts of herbal material in this water may not be enough to work life-changing magic. But in large doses ginger and lemon can be good for regulating the digestive tract (though bad news for cleansers: they might actually make you more hungry). I added them mostly because they taste delicious. Lemongrass is often used as an antioxidant, so along with adding a zing to the mixture, it might do a little side work clearing toxins from the liver and pancreas.
Mint? Delicious again, not to mention good for settling the stomach and adding a touch of sweetness to a tart blend. (But we wouldn’t blame you for making a Mint Julep instead.)
Cara cara oranges because they’re beautiful and tasty and low in acid; they won’t make the water too strong. And cayenne pepper? It’s daring and believed to kick start your metabolism, which sounds promising, don’t you think?
Above: The ingredients prepared. I scrubbed (but didn’t peel) my ginger and citrus before cutting them into thin rounds, and I gave my herbs a good rinse before adding them to the pitcher. Giving the mint a little squeeze is also a good idea. It will bruise the leaves just enough to release the essential oils.
You can experiment with the ingredients–adding as much or as little of each as you have on hand, for instance–to tweak the flavor of the herbal water. (In the mood for something warm? Brew a cuppa nutritious Nettle Tea.)
Above: Letting the ingredients sit in the refrigerator overnight gives the water the chance to absorb all of the flavors. If you want a milder taste, simply prepare the water, give it a stir with a wooden spoon, and enjoy.
Above: For the brave, a dash or two cayenne pepper turns the whole thing a beautiful light orange. You might need to offset the spice with a drizzle of honey or sugar water, and promise me you’ll do your best not to get any up your nose.