The Egyptian Blue Lotus, Nymphaea caerulea, is an ethnobotanical that has been revered through the centuries and across the continents. From it’s emergence as a hybrid of the white lily to its use by the ancient Greeks, the Tibetans and as far as the Alexandrian empire and eventually even to the Roman outpost known as Londonium.
The blue lotus is theorized to have played a very important role in Egyptian cultural, religious and artistic life as evidenced by the prominence of Lotus artwork and it’s being featured along with other known psychoactive and/or entheogenic plants. If you’re familiar with the Odyssey then you surely remember the Island of the Lotus Eaters. Odysseus and his men were at one point nearly kept entirely immobile after having faced war and much more by the pleasantness of the Lotus plant.
The primary active constituents of blue lotus are nucipherine and apomorphine, which is a dopamine agonist. Dont’ let the name scare you off though. According to the book Principles of Neural Science “it is historically a morphine decomposition product by boiling with concentrated acid, hence the -morphine suffix. Apomorphine does not actually contain morphine or its skeleton, or bind to opioid receptors for that matter. The apo- prefix relates to it being an aporphine derivative.”
If you’re planning on trying to make your own lotus wine, it won’t be too difficult. Just secure some blue lotus (the fresher the better, fresher herbs almost always are more potent) and some wine for starters. I like to use a Riesling or a Sangria or Merlot, something with a strong taste and maybe a sweet or sour to take out some of the “bite” from the strong, bitter blue lotus alkaloid taste that will infuse along with the actives into your wine.
One wine bottle and around an ounce (25-30 grams) of blue lotus is what you should start with. Pour out about a half a glass, just a few ounces. This will make it possible to stuff your ounce of lotus in the bottle. Grinding the plant material down will also help, not only in ensuring the plant matter fits, but also in allowing the actives to soak in and infuse into the wine. This is actually a process called “maceration” that we mention in one of our previous YouTube video tutorials.
Once your material is ground (you can use a mortar and pestle, coffee grinder, herb grinder, food processor or even a sharp pair of herb or fabric scissors) use a thick neck funnel to stuff your foliage into the bottle. At this point, you’ll want to re-cork and shake the bottle (agitation, it’s called) before you put it back into the refrigerator.
Keep the bottle in a cool, dark place (a wine cellar would be ideal, but a fridge works just fine) and shake it once a day. This not only aerates the wine, but also allows more of the plant foliage to seep out into the wine itself. This is a process called “leaching” where the active contents are separated from the plant matter and absorbed into the carrier liquid, in this case wine.
Keep your bottle stored well and remember to shake once or twice daily. Some people say the wine should be ready in 3-5 days, but if you want to get the most out of your wine infusion preparation, I recommend at least a week to two weeks. Make sure to properly label your bottle with the date of your infusion and the amount of lotus you used to keep track.
Once you’ve let your lotus actives leach out into the wine infusion for a couple weeks it’s time to filter. A generic coffee filter will work, but cheese cloth or a large muslin bag will be a lot easier, less mess and take less time. Make sure to press your muslin or cheese cloth (or a clean t-shirt will even do) to get every last squeeze of the lotus infused wine. Some plant matter will stick in the bottle, a bit of wire or metal twine can be helpful here. Be patient, some of the most infused wine will be in the soaked flower matter.
Don’t be afraid to eat the wine soaked plant matter. The blue petals are especially tasty as it’s the stamens and pollen that contain the more active, bitter portions of the plant. The lotus effects will come on in about the same time as the alcohol effects. Some feel more calm, relaxed and slightly euphoric when drinking the lotus wine compared to wine alone. The Greeks for instance, would even water down their wine to ensure more of the effects of the infused plants were experienced as the alcohol was just used a carrier or vessel for the plant “spirits” that were desired.
Check out the “Sacred Weeds” episode on the Blue Lotus (or Blue Lily as it’s also known) below and then try your own lotus infusion!
If you enjoyed this article, read more about Blue Lotus and its history at the link below.