Herbal Store Offers Healing Tea Tastings, Consultations

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Customers of Chakra Botanika Apothecary and Tea Room can taste several new herbal teas each week.

"A lot of people really like Women's Grace, Cool Breezes, Sleek and Slender and Don't Worry Be Happy," owner Sharon Bowes said.

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Chakra Botanika Apothecary and Tea Room owner Sharon Bowes asks customer Jim Taylor to decide, which tea smells better -- Georgia Peach Rooibos or Cool Mint?

The latter two teas were created by Bowes.

"Usually, there is a purpose for blending a tea," she said. "Someone has a need -- a complaint and we work on a formula.

"We do our basic mental research as far as herbs that are good for that condition."

Next, is the trial and error of blending and tasting and playing with the parts to get the tea's particular benefits just right.

"When we have a good reaction from the staff, then we give out free samples to our customers," Bowes said. "Sometimes we nail it on the first shot, but not always."

If customers like the tea, it gets stocked on the shelf, along with 120 herbs and 40 spices.

Medicinal teas should be steeped for 15 to 20 minutes in distilled water for the fastest absorption, Bowes said. Unlike a capsule, the liquid comes in contact with the body's mucus membranes all the way through the digestive system.

Beyond teas, Chakra Botanika also stocks encapsulated herbal formulas, clays, essential oils, smudges, incense and related books. Almost all the products are organic or wild-crafted in whole food form with no standardization or processing, Bowes said.

Anyone who is working behind the counter is available for basic information on herbs.

Jim Taylor has been coming to Bowes' retail store for herbal advice for three years.

"I've gotten away from any type of a manufactured pill," Taylor said. "I get yucca devil's claw for my joints. I'm getting up there in age. I'm 57, and I work retail. So, I am up and down a lot. My knees were popping and cracking.

"Sharon recommended (yucca devil's claw) and I really haven't had any more problems with my knees."

He also takes Qiyelian, a Chinese herb, for the arthritis pain in his neck.

"It helps quite a bit," Taylor said.

Bowes offers one-on-one confidential herbal consultation for people with chronic conditions.

"At this point, it is free, but we will have to start charging for it in the future. We've had such an overwhelming response to the program," Bowes said. "I am an herbalist. I am a second year student at the Herbal Path of Botanical Medicine in the Valley. I am also a distance-learning student at Clayton College."

There is no government certification to become an herbalist. Bowes estimated she has 160 hours of formal training in addition to the time she has trained on her own.

She will offer classes for the basic herbalist after the New Year.

Bowes maintained her prior business, an Herb Stop franchise for two-and-a-half years. Six months ago she chose to close her doors and re-open as Chakra Botanika Apothecary.

The new business name was chosen carefully.

"Chakras" are points of physical/spiritual energies in the body, Bowes said. "Botanika" is a play on the word "botanical" and "apothecary" is a reference to a time long before synthetic drugs were used when the word was used to describe the shop of an herbalist.

"We've gotten great feedback from our customers since re-opening," Bowes said.

Taylor was one of the first customers through Chakra's doors.

A change in the taste of herbs was one of the first things he noticed, he said, particularly the echinacea.

"It was more than night and day," Taylor said.

"I believe my products are far superior now," Bowes said.

Chakra Botanika is located at in the Bashas' shopping center at 130 E. Highway 260, Payson. It is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, For more information, call (928) 468-0900.

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