In the old days people would look forward to a spring tonic to boost the indigestion after a winter of eating foods from the winter larder, and to get the "juices running". Tonics are bitters, which stimulate the liver to porduce bile to help the body digest fats and improve the digestive process.
SPRING TONIC (from Tonics by Robert A. Barnett)
1/2 cup dried Sarsaparilla root
1/2 cup dried Burdock root
2 Tbsp. dried Dandelion root
2 Tbsp. dried Orange peel
8 whole Cardamom pods, cracked open
1/2 tsp ground Cinnamon
1 2" piece fresh Ginger, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup Honey
1 1/2 cup fresh Lemon juice
4 cups Apple Cider
1/2 tsp freshly ground Pepper
16 oz. Seltzer or other carbonated water (optional)
Bring 5 cups water to boil in a covered saucepan. Meanwhile combine the Sarsaparilla root, Burdock root, Dandelion root, Orange peel, Cardamom pods and Cinnamon in a heat-proof bowl. Pour on the boiling water, stir, and leave to steep for 15-20 minutes.
Combine the Ginger, 1/2 c Lemon juice, and the Honey in a blender. Process until smooth. Add the remaining Lemon juice and the Pepper, and blend until well combined, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides of the blender with a rubber spatula.
When the root mixture is ready, strain it through a fine sieve, pressing with the back of a spoon to extract all of the flavorful tea. Discard the solids. Add 1 cup of this tea to the blender and whirl just to combine. Scrape the contents of the blender into a large pitcher. Stir in the remaining tea and the apple cider.
Chill well. Serve over ice, adding the seltzer for a lighter drink.
This can be frozen for up to 3 months or keeps in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. Use a blender to reincorporate the materials.
If using fresh roots of Sarsaparilla, Burdock, or Dandelion, double the amount.