[ The Story of CARMELITE WATER ] ~ from HerbCo
[elixir of pleasure and poison ] ~ from Herbco
Long ago, before the advent of modern distillation and mass production, herbal formulations were passed down from each generation to the next, typically by the matriarchs of households, the original do-it-yourselfers. Their recipes, then known as receipts, were written down in household herbals, which also served as early cookbooks. Many of these elixirs and tonics eventually became what we recognize today as aperitifs and liquors. During the Middle Ages, however, when many regions still endured the suppression of science, these formulas were the first -- and often only -- line of defense against the most deadly of diseases of the time, namely Black Death (the plague), leprosy, and Saint Anthony’s fire.

fresh lemon balm
In some parts of Europe, particularly in France and Italy, formal medical schools began to spring up by the 12th century. One of the most famous of these was the school of Salerno in southern Italy. Although it may sound like the start of a not-so-politically-correct joke, the school had the unique distinction of being founded by a Christian, an Arab and a Jew, and was also notable because it permitted women to study there. At the same time, monasteries began developing herbal preparations and guarded their secret recipes with as much as care as they did their official gardens from which they harvested their raw materials. Of these “elixir for long life” formulas, the best known are Benedictine liqueur, Chartreuse and Carmelite Water. The last is also associated with a dark tale of conspiracy and the attempted assassination of a French noble, a real life Duke featured in the historical saga of The Three Musketeers.

carmelite water HERBS and SPICES to stock up on

buy bulk lemon balm
lemon balm  cut & sifted
Named and revered for its sweet, lemony fragrance and flavor, lemon balm is a Mediterranean herb in the mint family used in tea blends and as a flavoring agent in wines, cordials and elixirs.
buy bulk angelica root
angelica root   cut & sifted
In addition to its inclusion in Carmelite water, angelica root was another monastery herb and used to produce angelica water, an “official” English remedy for the Black Plague. 
buy bulk coriander seed
coriander seed  cut & sifted
Coriander is the seed of the cilantro herb, is a spice that lends a peppery flavor to curries, soups, pickling spice and liquors.
buy bulk cinnamon chips
cinnamon chips   cut & sifted
Little gems of spicy-sweetness that are perfect for infusing flavor into teas, cordials and elixirs. 
buy bulk cloves
cloves  cut & sifted
This warm spice is harvested from a tree in the myrtle family and is named from clou, the French word for “nail” due to its similar shape. 
buy bulk nutmeg
nutmeg   cut & sifted
Produced from the “nut” of an evergreen tree from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, nutmeg gets its name from the Old French that describes a "hard aromatic seed of the East Indies.”              

carmelite water RECIPE from herbco
carmelite water
While the Boyer family continues to be the guardian of the Eau de Mélisse des Carmes Boyer formula, you can make your own version of this “miracle water” at home. Use the spirit that moves you, whether it be vodka, brandy or some other alcohol, depending on the character (and proof) of the finished product you desire. This middle-of-the-road recipe calls for Pinot grigio, but you can use any dry, white wine.

¼ cup  dried lemon balm
¼ cup  dried angelica root
2 tablespoons  whole coriander seed
1 tablespoon  dried lemon peel
2 teaspoons  cinnamon chips
3 whole  cloves
¼ teaspoon  grated nutmeg
1 bottle (750 ml)  Pinot grigio

Place all the herbs and spices in a clean quart-sized jar with a lid. Slowly pour the wine over the herbal material. Replace the lid and let the jar sit in a place where it won’t be disturbed or exposed to light or heat for 6-8 hours, or overnight. (Note: If using vodka or brandy, infuse for 7-10 days.) Strain off the herbs, reserving the infused wine in another clean receptacle. Chill for 2-3 hours before serving. Store in the refrigerator and use within one week.

Freeman, Margaret .B., Herbs for the Mediaeval Household for Cooking, Healing, & Divers Uses, NY, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1943

Grieve, Mrs. M., A Modern Herbal in Two Volumes, Vol 1 A-H, Mineola NY, Dover Publications Inc, 1971

Metropolitan Museum of Art: Medicine in the Middle Ages,

Discalced Carmelite Order Our Coat of Arms

Graemedevil, Carmelite Water: A Herbal Tonic for Mind, Body and Soul

Eau de Mélisse des Carmes Boyer Our History