I love oxymels because they taste like liquid candy with an herbal twang. Think melted sour gummies, but medicinal. The word oxymel is derived from Latin, “oxy” meaning sharp, sour, acidic, and “mel” for honey. Just like the name, oxymels are made from half honey and half vinegar, though the ratios can be adjusted to taste. While this vinegar and honey brew is medicinal on its own - traditionally used to support respiratory health- it typically makes up the menstruum, or extraction medium, of the finished concoction. Herbs are steeped in this syrupy liquid for weeks, creating a finished product that’s a treat to take and is sure to be one of the most delicious medicines you’ll ever create.
Oxymels are great for people who might be averse to alcohol, and kids especially love them. They’re so fun and versatile - you can mix fruits with herbs, like juicy peaches with chamomile, or sun-ripened strawberries with rose, and blueberries with lavender. They make great additions to sparkling water for something to sip on a hot summer day. You can tone down the honey and make a more savory blend, like Fire Cider, or bump up the honey for a syrupy syrup, like an Elderberry Syrup. The range of experimentation is vast, but the result is always delicious. Of course you can make oxymels with just herbs as well, and brew up some fine potent herbal formulas for anything you can imagine.
Vinegar excels at extracting alkaloids, polysaccharides, volatile oils, and minerals. Herbs I love to use in oxymels include nettle, thyme, oregano, lemon balm, chamomile, rose, burdock, red raspberry leaf, catnip, oatstraw and milky oats, hawthorn berry, mugwort, and so many more. The only herbs I avoid are minty mints, as I think the minty flavor clashes with the tart vinegar... But then again, you might totally love it. So just experiment, don’t be afraid, and find an herbalist that you can ask questions. Happy medicine making!