After a full-on festive season of preparations, carol singing, wrapping, unwrapping, eating, drinking, more eating and drinking, tidying up and blustery walks to shift the seasonal excess…or the odd yule time overindulgence; it’s time for tea…
Specifically: healthy, tasty, freshly made herbal tea, created by the wonderfully gifted and passionate herbalist, Alice Nugent, founder of the Hippopot!
I had the pleasure of meeting Alice a few weeks before Christmas at various Athena and training events, but it was great to get to know her better and learn about her many skills, when I visited her quaint and well stocked ‘tea house’ in Marlow recently.
Alice has a warm, welcoming African smile; her enthusiasm for life is totally infectious. On that particular morning I was pumped with adrenaline, I had a list of things to do a mile long before the end of the day as Christmas was fast approaching, and she must have sensed my excess of nervous and physical energy.
A few minutes later Alice had prepared me a wonderful brew she calls Serenity, a mixture of chamomile flowers, lemon verbena, oatstraw, passiflora leaves, spearmint, violet leaves, skullcap leaves, hibiscus blossoms, rosehip peel, apple pieces, elderberries, blackberries, strawberry and raspberry.
Alice grows many of the flowers and herbs in her back garden as well as sourcing them from specialist suppliers, making a large variety of different teas and also teas for the four seasons of the year.
Her life story is fascinating…
Alice’s love for natural, healing herbs and plants stemmed from her early childhood experiences. She spent her formative years roaming the land near her remote home in Francungo in the Tete Province of Mozambique, where she lived on a farm with her mum and dad, two older brothers and three sisters. They reared chickens, goats and pigs as well as growing beans, vegetables and rice. She still has a cousin who’s a chief in the border lands of Kanyemba!
Her eyes glass over as she remembers wandering in the bush and picking indigenous plants. Their nearest neighbours were two miles away.
At the age of six Alice was sent to live with her aunt in Harare, Zimbabwe, where she benefited from a full-time education. She returned home for a visit to her parents every six months.
Alice first trained as a secretary in Clinical Pharmacology at the University of Zimbabwe Medical School. Working for the lecturers there reignited her interest in herbs. She then went on to study beauty therapy at polytechnic and worked in a salon. Meanwhile, her interest in health hadn’t waned, and she began to learn about aromatherapy.
In 1993 Alice and family moved to Lagos, Nigeria, in connection with her husband’s work. Four years later they decided to move to the UK.
Alice turned her attention to learning reflexology at Ellesmere College, and when her husband got a posting in London she worked at a spa in a posh Hilton hotel. During this time she studied herbal medicine at Westminster University for four years, and is now a qualified Medical Herbalist BSc (Hons), as well as a member of the National Institute of Medical herbalists (NIMH), and the College of Practitioners of Phytotherapy (CCP). Every year Alice does a CPD course to ensure that she is up-to-date with the latest research and methods in her profession.
The Hippopot clinic – Alice calls it the pool, (as in hippo pool, in reference to her African roots), has been established in her special cabin for two years (and a year in Marlow High Street before that) and is going from strength to strength.
The shelves are lined with immaculately labelled bottles and boxes and it’s the perfect ambience to sit quietly with a cup of cha to have a chat.
I discovered that viscum album is actually mistletoe!
So in addition to a vast range of pre-made teas, Alice offers free consultations for local residents where she can assess the individual’s health and make a bespoke tea/tincture infusion tailored to their needs.
As Alice points out to me, herbs work together in nature…
She also makes special herbal tinctures and creams. The tinctures are alcohol based and the herbs are infused over a month. Alice is fully covered under the Medicine Act for her services. She can only sell the tinctures after a consultation, but her delicious and healthy teas can be purchased from the Hippopot website and sent around the world…
The Hippopot Tea Shop.
Alice doesn’t use anything from the ‘tea’ plant itself; therefore all her teas are free of green, black tea and caffeine, preservatives and additives. They contain purely natural herbs. The Hippopot also sells accessories for tea lovers, such as pots, strainers and cups which are sourced from the German tea company DNB.
So I urge you to purge your body of its Christmas induced ‘toxins’ and try some of her delicious and effective teas. They aid in bringing balance back to the body.
If that isn’t enough, Alice runs courses for those interested in learning about herbal medicine, and her next session will be on Saturday 6th February from 10 am to 4 pm at the Hippo Pool in Marlow. The cost of the training is £85.00 and the focus will be on Winter health and herbs. It goes without saying Alice will provide top quality refreshments!
On top of being a mum and a medical herbalist, Alice is also raising much needed funds for Malawi orphans.
A short, fun video about the history of herbal medicine:
Needless to say, by the end of our meeting my whole body had relaxed and an aura of calm had descended over me. Serenity certainly did its job!
“Food is our medicine” ~ Alice Nugent
I’d like to finish by thanking everyone who has followed my blog this year and taken the time to read some of my posts; I wish you the best of health and abundance for 2016.
Happy New Year!