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Herbs and Herbalism Recipes

Pumpkin Spice Coffee Beeswax Candles

I am *just* beginning to teach myself the art of candle making! It is not terribly difficult, but there is definitely a knack to it and little things to learn through the process. I am no expert yet, but I am quickly learning some of the finer points!

I have decided to use a combo of beeswax and coconut oil for my candle base for the time being, and I scent my candles with essential oils. The scent is more subtle than that from my favorite store-bought candles, but it’s lovely and natural, healthier, and much more magical and special to make them myself. All the cozy and loving intention is poured into each one with the wax.

For those who are also interested in candle making but aren’t sure where to start, here is a little list of the basic supplies I decided to begin with:

This batch of beeswax candles combines the scents of coffee, cinnamon, vanilla, clove, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom, lemon, blood orange, and balsam copaiba essential oils. (The coffee oil is a separate one from Simply Earth; the rest are in a pumpkin spice oil blend from Plant Therapy.)

Aside from providing a cozy, delicious scent perfect for this time of year, these botanicals are grounding, balancing, energizing, and represent love, luck, and healing. I’ve topped each candle with coffee beans, star anise, allspice, cinnamon, and cloves. 

Here are the instructions for how I made this batch of candles—it makes 6 four-ounce candles.

(A couple notes: I am still experimenting with the essential oil amounts. You could definitely use more than I did here for a stronger scent—up to 200 drops! But I went conservative here for lightly scented candles. Also, be very careful topping candles with cinnamon, and make sure it isn’t too near the wick! It can spark if it catches the flame just right.)

I plan to keep a couple of these and share the love by gifting the rest this holiday season! And I hope to make more with different scent profiles and additions soon—I’ll share those here or on Instagram when I do.

Have you ever tried your hand at candle making? Is it something you’re interested in trying?

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Herbs and Herbalism Recipes

Oregano Face Steam

It’s that time of year: colds, coughs, congestion, sinus headaches, the works. I don’t know about you, but I have a constant runny nose, and often a bit of a cough, once my wildlings start bringing fall germs home from school. This also wreaks havoc on my skin! I get dry, sore skin around my nose and sinuses, and my face just feels dry and tight. 

So I decided to try something that would be great for both my sinuses and my skin: a facial steam. It’s really quite easy! Just add your herbs to a big bowl, pour in hot water from your tea kettle, drape a towel over your head, lean over the bowl—trapping in the lovely aromatic steam—and let the botanicals do their magic!

Oregano is the star of the show today. With its antimicrobial and lung-soothing properties, as well as its warming and stimulating effects, oregano is a lovely ally. With it I combined rose petals, lavender, and calendula for my skin issues and yarrow and thyme to boost the sinus clearing and germ-fighting properties. 

Let me tell you, this was a relaxing and divine way to get some relief! I think I’ll be doing this quite often now.

Here is the recipe, so you can try this lovely steam, too! I used dried herbs to make this recipe, which makes it super simple for wintertime use! For the “parts” size, I used tablespoons, then tripled the recipe; this made more than enough of the mixture to put some in a jar and do it again a few more times.

Mix the dried herbs well in a bowl. In a separate bowl, add your desired amount—I’d recommend 2-3 tablespoons. Then add steaming (not boiling) water heated in a tea kettle. Put a towel over your shoulders and head and lean over the bowl, carefully draping the towel to enclose the hot steam with your face. Close your eyes, relax, and enjoy inhaling the fragrant steam for several minutes!


Have you ever tried a facial steam? If so, which are your favorite herbs to include?

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Herbs and Herbalism Hygge Recipes

Hygge Hearth Tincture

Inspiration struck this morning and I decided to start a tincture that will be ready just in time for Yule! It has all the happy, cozy, hygge vibes with digestion support, stress relief, balancing, and immune boosting to boot.

Mint is the star of the show here, paired with “really good Ceylon cinnamon” (please tell me you read that in Ina Garten’s voice 😂). I adore the sweet combo of cooling mint and warming cinnamon! With these I combined fennel seed, rosemary, and ashwagandha root. 

Then I topped it off with not the usual vodka, but GIN for more cozy, botanical, wintry vibes.

Here is the full recipe! For once, I actually loosely measured instead of doing it in parts!

Add herbs to a 16 oz glass jar. Cap and shake the jar thoroughly to mix herbs. Top with gin, filling to near the brim. Cap with a plastic canning jar lid or parchment paper and canning lid. Store in a cool, dark place, shaking daily, and strain after 6-8 weeks. Store in dark glass jars or dropper bottles if you can. 

You can take this tincture in tea, coffee, still or sparkling water, ginger ale, juice, or even cocktails! Ginger ale is my favorite vehicle for tinctures—if you prefer, use your favorite homemade or natural ginger ale.

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Herbs and Herbalism plant wonder collective

October: Elderberry Month

I can’t believe October is already more than halfway through! Life has certainly been busy over here in the Herbology Faerie’s apothecary. My children have been home for their two week fall break, my husband took a trip for work, there have been visitors and visits, sickness, and it’s just been a bit of chaos around here. But I have still been connecting with the plant world, so I am here to share a bit about that!

This month has been elderberry month at the Plant Wonder Collective! I have so enjoyed working with lovely elderberry this October. I have not yet had the time to write up a monograph post for elderberry this month, but I will try to do that before October is done. Meanwhile, here is a link to the Plant Wonder Collective’s elderberry monograph post!

Elderberry Monograph

I have concocted a couple of fun elderberry potions this month which I have shared on Instagram. I’ll share them here, too, to make them easier to find. First up: an elderberry hot toddy!

Elderberry Hot Toddy

Next, I shared the beginnings of my elderberry infused gin this week. It is still infusing, but I will be straining it soon and sharing a cocktail or two made with this lovely liquor. Here is the initial post about its creation!

Elderberry Gin

And one last post to share: here is some elderberry wisdom from The Illustrated Herbiary by Maia Toll. Elderberry reminds us to embrace the cycles and seasons of life and our place within them.

I hope October is treating you well, friends! Perhaps you’ll find some inspiration here to connect with elderberry in your own ways this month, or in the months to come!

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Herbs and Herbalism plant wonder collective Recipes

Lemon Balm Simple Syrup Mocktails & Cocktails

Happy Tuesday! Whether you’re here from my Instagram post or you found this blog post first, welcome to the lemon balm party!

Lemon balm is a subtle but sweet and tasty herb for making simple syrup. I decided to brew some up and then experiment with using it to create some tasty mocktails and cocktails.

I used fresh lemon balm to make a small batch of simple syrup with my usual recipe: dissolve ½ cup of sugar in ½ cup of water on the stovetop over medium heat, add in about 1 cup of the herb, remove from heat and steep for 30 minutes, strain, and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. 

Then came the fun part! Of course, you can use the syrup in any kind of tea (black, green, herbal) for a bit of sweetness and the calming, soothing effects of lemon balm. But I decided to take a few diy concoctions for a spin! My favorite combination was ginger ale, a splash of apple cider (apple juice works too), and about a tablespoon of lemon balm simple syrup. If you find your lemon balm syrup’s flavor turned out too subtle, though, you can always just combine it with seltzer or ginger ale so it can be the star of the show. 

There are plenty more ways to combine lemon balm simple syrup in other mocktails and cocktails, too. Here are some of my favorite combinations!

Follow along for more Lemon Balm wonder throughout the day and join us this month through our hashtags and at @plantwondercollective on Instagram!

#plantwondercollective

#pwclemonbalm

Meet the participants!

@plantwondercollective

@florasfeastbotanicals

@wineberryadventurescouts

@herbalfae

@mamalibelula

@theherbologyfaerie

@herbal_pirate

@katwb444

Plant Wonder Collective: Connecting you to nature through food, drink, play, garden, medicine, magic and art.

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Herbs and Herbalism plant wonder collective

Herb Profile: Lemon Balm

Happy September! It’s a new month (one of the best ones!) and time for a new plant profile. Since I’ve officially joined in on the Plant Wonder Collective on Instagram, I’m going to begin featuring the PWC herb of the month in my plant profile blog posts to coincide. So, for September, let’s take a look at lemon balm!

I think of lemon balm as being one of the most “chill” herbs I’ve had the pleasure to befriend and work with. The spirit of this plant is so happy, cheerful, and uplifting. And its scent and taste are, too! It should come as no surprise, then, that lemon balm is considered a relaxing nervine herb. But it is so much more than that, too!

Originally native to southern and Central Europe, the Middle East, and parts of Asia, lemon balm is now much more widespread in its naturalization. One thing I find fascinating about lemon balm is its varied recorded historical uses—from the Greeks and Romans, to the Middle Ages, and beyond. It was a favorite strewing herb and had many medicinal, culinary, and even perfuming applications. In folklore, lemon balm is associated with protection and joy (echoing its medicinal qualities) and is associated with the goddess Diana.

Lemon balm has a primarily sour taste (though many find it sweet as well) and is energetically cooling and drying. It has a wide range of properties—relaxing nervine, antiviral and antimicrobial, antioxidant, antispasmodic, digestant, and probably more. Lemon balm is well known as a gentle, safe aid for stress, anxiety, indigestion, nausea, and insomnia. It is also helpful for colds, fever, flu, and other infections, as well as topically for rashes, small wounds, and bug bites. It is great for the heart, cognitive function, and pain, and can help with depression and seasonal affective disorder as well.

One thing I’ve observed about lemon balm is that it smells and tastes much more potent and lemony when fresh. Dried lemon balm is equally useful and you’ll find it in many herbal teas, but nothing compares to fresh lemon balm. If you don’t have access to garden space, this is one herb you’ll definitely want to consider growing in a sunny windowsill!

I’ll be sharing more lemon balm recipes both here and over on Instagram throughout September, but I’ll leave you with one of the simplest and most soothing tea recipes I’ve encountered. It’s a classic you’re sure to have seen before on other recipe blogs or books, or even in a supermarket tea. There is a reason for that! It tastes wonderful cold or hot, it’s safe for kids and adults, and it is a gently relaxing tea to help with stress, anxiety, depression, digestion, colds, and insomnia.

Simple Soother:

1 part lemon balm

1 part chamomile

½ part lavender

That’s it! You can use fresh or dried herbs interchangeably in this recipe; I use what I have on hand. I like to cold brew big jars of this overnight and sip it any time of the day. I also share it with my kids, because they love it!

Are you a lemon balm lover? What is your favorite way to work with lemon balm?

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Sources:

• Rosalee de la Foret, Herb Mentor monograph

• Rebecca Beyer, Wild Witchcraft

• Sarah Farr, Healing Herbal Teas

• Tina Sams, Herbal Medicine for Emotional Healing

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Herbs and Herbalism plant wonder collective Recipes

Tulsi Heart-Support Tincture

You have a physical aspect to your heart, and an energetic and emotional aspect to your heart as well. It may seem like more of a metaphorical connection until you think deeply about it. That piercing aches in your chest that come periodically for some and often for others certainly points toward this inextricable connection. The emotional and energetic health of your heart can have a big impact on the physical health of your heart, and vice-versa.

Herbs can be an invaluable ally when it comes to both of these aspects of heart health, and what’s really amazing is that the same herbs can help with both. Nature certainly knows what she is doing!

My favorite herb for heart ease is tulsi. Tulsi is the Queen of Herbs, and she is a wonderful heart soother. She can aid in reducing inflammation and regulating blood pressure, but she can also help ease emotional tension and stress weighing your heart down. As both an adaptogen and a nervine, tulsi holds your hand and has your back.

I’ve brewed up a heart ease “potion,” a tincture that pairs tulsi with two other herbs that work on much the same dualistic levels for the heart: linden and hawthorn. Both of these lovely herbs are nervines often used to address blood pressure and cardiovascular health, as well as anxiety, stress, and depression. There are also folkloric and spiritual connections between all three of these herbs and protection.

Here is the recipe if you’d like to make this heart supporting tincture, too! I used the folk method, measuring in parts.

I will probably take a dropper full of this at a time in tea, ginger ale, or fruity seltzer water. It will be brimming with the intention of bringing ease and strength to my physical and emotional heart.

Have you worked with tulsi to ease and strengthen your heart?


Note: check with your physician before taking significant amounts of these herbs if you have high blood pressure, any heart conditions, or if you take any heart or blood pressure medications.


Follow along for more Tulsi wonder on Instagram with the Plant Wonder Collective! Participants share posts on the featured herb throughout the month. You can find us via

@plantwondercollective

#plantwondercollective

#pwctulsi

Plant Wonder Collective: Connecting you to nature through food, drink, play, garden, medicine, magic and art.

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Herbs and Herbalism Recipes

Building a Foundation With Adaptogens

Not long ago, I shared a post that was a brief overview of nervine herbs and how they work to relax, tone, soothe, calm, and even gently stimulate the nervous system, digestive function, and circulation. Nervines are such gentle, steady friends!

I thought today I would touch on another, often overlapping category of herbs and botanicals: adaptogens.

Where nervines primarily help calm, adaptogens are known for helping to stabilize and protect. They are extremely grounding; help to protect from fatigue, overwhelm, and burnout; aid against anxiety, depression, and chronic stress; support and protect brain function; build resilience and uplift; and aid the immune system. Basically, adaptogens are powerhouse holistic mental and physical health supporters! Though every person’s constitution and health situation is different and they must use caution before trying any new substances, many adaptogens are generally as safe as most nervines are in normal doses.

If you prefer a less clinical perspective, think of it this way. While nervines can offer you a steady, calming pulse of reassurance and mental and physical support, adaptogens can hold you up, offer you inner strength, sharpen your mind, and keep you going. Adaptogens have your back.

So, who are these adaptogenic allies? Here is a list of a few of my favorites!

Tulsi

Nettles

Rhodiola

Schisandra

Eleuthero

Ashwagandha

Reishi

Astragalus

Licorice

Maca

Green tea

Ginseng

Most of these adaptogens can be found where you purchase herbs online if you can’t find them in person—Mountain Rose Herbs is often where I go to look for herbs on this list.


And now it’s recipe time! I thought I’d share two adaptogen recipes: a tea and a tincture. The tea is a great one to sip in the morning—you might even want to replace coffee with it sometimes for a more stable energy boost. In both the tea and the tincture, I’ve added some nervines too for taste and added benefits.

Simple Strength Adaptogen Tea:

1 part green tea

1 part tulsi

½ part mint 

½ part cardamom

¼ part fennel


Adaptogen Tincture:

1 part ashwagandha 

1 part astragalus 

1 part nettle

½ part mint

Vodka

. . . . . . .

Place herbs in a clean glass jar. Fill about ½ inch above the herbs with vodka, using a wooden spoon to make sure the herbs are fully covered. Place waxed paper and canning lid or bpa-free plastic lid on jar and store in a cool, dry place. Shake the jar each day, and if the herbs rise above the vodka or appear to have absorbed too much, add a bit more to cover them. (You can also move your mixture to a larger jar mid-process if needed.) Allow to macerate for 4-6 weeks. Strain into dropper bottles; take one dropperful either in a glass of water, in another beverage, or under the tongue.


If your health situation supports it, then daily doses of a couple of adaptogens that are suited to your needs can be an amazing holistic health approach. Many people sip on an adaptogen-based beverage every day instead of coffee to build up a strong foundation and mental and physical reserves. (I actually enjoy drinking coffee that has adaptogens right in it!)

Are you new to adaptogenic herbs? If not, which are your favorites? If so, which do you think you’d like to try?

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Herbs and Herbalism Tea

Cold-Brewed Herbal Tea

Cold brewing is a pretty popular method for making coffee. It’s easy, it takes the bitter edge out of the coffee, and your brew is ready and waiting when you get up in the morning. But cold brewing isn’t necessarily everyone’s go-to method when it comes to herbal tea. While cold brewing isn’t ideal for every situation, it can definitely be an incredible tool for making herbalism simple, accessible, and an easily integrated part of your daily routine! (And for the record, it is my go-to more than half of the time!)

When is cold brewing herbal tea ideal?

There are plenty of scenarios in which cold brewing your herbal tea overnight in the fridge is a great option. 

If you’re using fresh herbs like lemon balm, mints, and rosemary, cold brewing brings out all the freshest, greenest flavors and energies and pairs well with fresh fruit.

When working with bitter herbs like chamomile and nettles, cold brewing works wonderfully to cut the bitter edge. This also goes for black and green teas—and it renders them slightly less tannic and caffeinated, if that’s what you’re going for. And if you’re a sweetener or sugar type, you might even find that your cold brewed teas don’t need any added sweetness like hot teas do!

Some herbs are more mucilaginous and simply do better in cold water, or are at least very well-suited to cold water. Marshmallow root, licorice root, and hibiscus fall into this category.

For convenience, I love to cold brew big jars of my daily sips overnight. I use this method especially for daily nourishing and supportive tonic teas I want to sip through the day. They’re just there, ready and waiting when I need them—no excuses or barriers to getting my “health potion!” And if I’m going to be on the go, I can just grab my jar and take it with me, for even more convenience. 

Obviously cold brewing your tea is especially useful in hot weather, or anytime if you’re simply a cold beverage person. You don’t have to wait for the hot tea to cool down if you brew it cold!

When is cold brewing not the best method for herbal tea?

Sometimes, there are certain factors that make cold brewing teas less than ideal. Here are a few occasions to think twice about cold brewing. 

If you’re using your tea to treat a cold or cough, hot tea may be best. Hot tea extracts quickly to address your symptoms, it can make a stronger tea more quickly, and the heat may soothe your nose, sinuses, mouth, throat, and lungs more effectively. 

There are certain botanicals that just don’t brew well, or as well, in cold water. Roots, woody herbs, and seeds tend to need hot water in the form of a regular hot brew, or even a decoction, to extract all the flavor and constituents effectively. Some examples of these herbs include chai-type spices (cloves, dried ginger, allspice), dandelion and burdock roots, astragalus, reishi, dried hawthorn berries, dried rose hips, and many others. 

Even a few tender herbs sometimes do better when brewed hot, too, if you’re looking to extract vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients more fully to make a true “nourishing infusion.” Nettles are a good example of this—though I personally dislike the taste of them as a hot tea enough that I’ll take my chances with the lesser amounts of nutrients in a cold brew! Raspberry leaf and red clover are other herbs that must be brewed hot if your goal is to extract the most nutrients possible.

Cold weather is also, of course, a possible factor. Sometimes you prefer a cozy, warm drink to encourage circulation and warm you up!

What do you need to cold brew herbal tea?

Cold brewing herbal tea does not require much in the way of equipment, tools, or skills. The most important part is a container—large glass jars work best—and herbs! You can even begin getting your feet wet by cold brewing about 3 store bought tea bags at a time per quart jar. (Jasmine green tea bags are my favorite to do this way.)

You will also need a way to strain your tea, whether you opt for a mesh kitchen strainer, a metal tea strainer, or environmentally-friendly paper tea bags (my usual choice for convenience). You can also bypass all these separate items by using a French press (reserved only for tea and not used for coffee) or a cold brewing jar.

Method

My method for cold brewing herbal tea is very simple and takes little effort or thought. I either place three store-bought tea bags into a quart jar, fill with water, and place in the fridge overnight, or I fill a large eco-friendly paper tea bag with dried herbs and use the same sized jar, also brewing in the fridge overnight. 

Here are some ideas if you’d like specific recipes for loose leaf, dried herbs to cold brew. In these recipes I’m using a quart jar and the parts are probably heaping tablespoons.

1 part chamomile, 1 part lemon balm, ½ part lavender

1 part mint, 1 part nettles, ½ part rosemary, ½ part lavender

1 part calendula, 1 part chamomile, 1 part elderflower, ½ part ginger

1 part tulsi, 1 part hibiscus, 1 part mint

Have you ever tried cold brewing your herbal tea? Which herbs are your favorite to cold brew?

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Herbs and Herbalism Recipes

Herb Profile: Hibiscus

July is flying by! I blinked and now we are halfway through this month already; I kind of can’t even get my bearings. My twins’ fifth birthday began the month, there are other family goings-on, and it’s already back-to-school shopping time as my kids go back to school at the end of this month! (We have a different school calendar than most where we live.) Needless to say, my brain is a bit scrambled. But I’m here to talk about a favorite herb of mine for this crazy time of year—it’s not a nervine, but it pairs well with them and has an incredibly soothing effect during this hottest part of the year. It’s hibiscus!

There are actually many varieties of hibiscus, but the species most commonly referred to and used for consumption is Hibiscus sabdariffa. This hibiscus is also called roselle or sorrel. It is likely native to North or West Africa but now grows in many places throughout the world, and has been long used in Africa, Southeast Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

Hibiscus is considered a sour herb with cooling and moistening properties. It is especially helpful for heart health, blood pressure regulation, inflammation modulating, summer cooling, and nutrition as it’s dense with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. 

Hibiscus tastes delicious—hibiscus tea is strongly reminiscent of cranberry juice! My kids love making hibiscus and berry sun tea during the summer months and then chilling it in the fridge for a sweet, cooling summer beverage. When you’re making your own blends with hibiscus, think about combining it with chamomile or mint, cinnamon, honey, and your favorite fruits.

Hibiscus doesn’t do well as an alcohol tincture, so tea or food tend to be the most common ways it’s consumed. (It used to be commonly made into jam, and in some regions is eaten pickled!) Though that summer connection with hibiscus is strong, I also love using it as an ingredient in wintertime non-alcoholic mulled “wine” tea as it has that sharp, deep berry flavor that mimics wine and tastes great with warming spices. 

But since we are still very much in the heat of summer in the U.S. where I am, I’m going to share a super simple and refreshing hibiscus drink I love to make. It’s a very flexible recipe; use whichever ingredients you like or have on-hand!

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Do you enjoy hibiscus? What are your favorite types of hibiscus drinks, or even foods if you’ve tried them?

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Sources:

• Rosalee de la Foret, Herb Mentor monograph

• Apothecary At Home’s hibiscus herb-of-the-month club box

• Sarah Farr, Healing Herbal Teas