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Natural Awakenings Greater Boston - Rhode Island

Botanic Providence Loose-Leaf Teas at Flipp Salon-Apothecary

Jun 30, 2021 09:31AM ● By Wendy Nadherny Fachon
A study by researchers at Montreal’s McGill University found that tea bags can shed more than 10 billion microplastic and nanoplastic particles when placed in nearly boiling water. One quarter of a tea bag can be comprised of polypropylene, used to seal the bag or to help the bag keep its shape in hot liquid. Such tea bags are a poor option for compost material and for the human body. Like most plastics, polypropylene is known to adversely affect the body’s endocrine system. This is why more people are choosing organic loose-leaf tea.

Jo-Anna Cassino, certified clinical herbalist and owner of Flipp Salon-Apothecary, in Providence, creates loose teas with people’s health in mind. As well as being fragrant and lovely to sip and enjoy, the core of Flipp’s Tea and Tisana blends are energetically balanced.

Cassino has an intimate connection with plants and grows many of her own herbs at Shewatuck Farm, in Exeter, Rhode Island, where she is the herbalist in residence. “In addition to the therapeutic properties and tastes,” she explains, “I also take the energetics of the herbs into consideration when blending, as the plants all have an energetic profile, just as people do. Energetics of a plant means it is made up of properties and constituents that have a physiological effect on the tissues, as well as an ability to equilibrate, correcting an excess or deficiency of heat (inflammation) or cold (atrophy). Ailments are rooted in these types of excesses or deficiencies.”

Analyzing and utilizing the energetics is a lens, or tool, that has been used for thousands of years, rooted in all forms of ancient medicine and therapeutics, from Ayurveda, traditional Chinese and Tibetan medicine to Roman, Greek and Egyptian medicine. Being of Italian, Greek and Egyptian heritage, Cassino takes great joy in following her ancestors’ footsteps, designing custom blends for individualized therapeutics, as well as formulating the blends for her Botanic Providence tea line for general consumption. She says, “Our blends won’t sway someone’s constitution too far in either direction—too cool or cold, or too warm or hot. When one of our blends is formulated to be slightly more in either direction, we state that on the label.”

Additionally, Cassino works to formulate blends which are fragrant and offer an enjoyable flavor. The following tasting notes describe the Botanic Providence line of teas:

High Tea – warming/astringent energetic quality with a twist of a classic Earl Grey. Bold flavor profile with floral/tart notes comes from hibiscus and citrus notes from bitter orange peel. Caffeinated.

Rooibos Chai – very warming, energetic quality using red rooibos instead of black tea, rendering a delicate and creamy result. Can be brewed with favorite milk or water for a subtly spiced tea blend. Longer brewing times will result in a bolder, more “true” chai experience. Caffeine-free.

Lounge – a cooling digestive tea with the added benefits of calming the nervous system. This soothing and nutrient-dense tea is the perfect way to end the evening. Caffeine-free.

Mood – cooling/fairly neutral energy, not drying or moistening. This calming blend is ideal for settling into a meditative or yogi state of mind, thanks to the hint of blue lotus flower. This tea renders a bright blue color that changes to hot pink when the pH changes, for example, if lemon is added. Same impact takes place if cooled tea infusion is added to Prosecco. Caffeine-free.

All blends are best enjoyed if allowed to steep for 10 or more minutes. Travel and insulated mugs work great for this. Cassino also custom creates blends for cafes and restaurants looking to up their tea game. In addition, Flipp Salon-Apothecary sells individual herbs by the ounce.

Location: 38 Transit St., Providence, RI. For more information, call 401-274-1981. Salon appointments can be booked online at

Safe Tea: Bag Brands That are Plastic-Free

People that really love brewing bagged tea ought to look for plastic-free brands. A few companies provide this information on their website, and others will respond to an email inquiry. As more consumers demand plastic-free tea bags, they can influence the commercial brand companies to move away from plastic. Here are some brands that have gone plastic-free with their string-and-tag teabags:

Yogi and Traditional Medicinals tea bags are made from a select blend of high-quality manila hemp (abacá) fibers and wood pulp. The abacá tree grows quickly in semi-shaded mountain terrains, reaching up to 15 feet tall and produces fiber for up to 20 years, making it a reliable source of income for local farmers and a responsible material for use for our tea bags. Abacá fiber pulp is formed into sheets and transported to paper mills, where it is blended with sustainably harvested wood pulp to better withstand the rigors of the tea-steeping process. The tea bags are treated with a non-toxic cleaning process, that uses oxygen and peroxide and ensures the removal of plant resins remaining in the wood pulp fibers. A non-heat seal or double-chamber bag design avoids the need for the chemical sealants used in cheap pillow bags. These tea bags are 100 percent compostable. Yogi tea is available at Johnson Compounding and Wellness (

Pukka Herbs’ website states: “We use a simple stitch of organic cotton and a unique folding process. This means we don’t need to use polypropylene to hold our teabags together and our teabags are free from plastic. We were the first company to ever use organic strings to hold our teabags together without the need of a metal staple or polypropylene.”

Writer Wendy Fachon is host of the Story Walking Radio Hour and has produced various episodes about minimizing plastic consumption. Learn more at