I am so proud to say that I’ve written a recipe ebook! It is available for purchase now in my Etsy shop, HERE.
The Spring Tea Booklet contains 20 tea recipes based on the season, nature, nature-based festivities, folklore, art, cozy aesthetics, and more! It also includes tips on tea-making and sourcing herbs and ingredients.
Lovingly created, written, photographed, and designed by folk herbalist Anna Reisz (me!!), this tea recipe booklet is a cozy and magical way to ground into the season. These recipes are approachable and perfect for anyone, from beginners to experienced tea blenders. Draw on the inspiration in these pages to create teas for self care, parties and special occasions, gifts, and more.
Spring Full Moons (3 recipes) Persephone Ace of Wands Robin Cottagecore Anne Shirley Element: Air Spring Equinox Light Academia Spring Forest Intention: Creativity Spring Zodiac Signs (3 recipes) Beltane Brigid Beatrix Potter Spring Dreams
I am grateful to anyone who considers taking a peek at this creation that I am proud of and considers purchasing a copy. This cozy herb thing is something I do because I love it, and I am so happy when others think it is pretty cool, too. Your support helps me continue to be able to do this—learning, creating, and sharing.
Are you as ready as I am for spring? Late February seems to always be like that for me, with sneaky early warm days making me itch for the real thing. And the fact that the first crocuses are beginning to pop up doesn’t help!
Between that and reading books about Beatrix Potter lately, I am in a distinctly flowery-tea-party mood. Not the fancy or stuffy kind, however; the unfussy, cozy, enjoying the bounty of nature and the comforts of home with friends kind. The sort with lavender Earl Grey in mismatched cups and a fresh-picked garden bouquet in a jam jar on the table. The type of flowery tea party I think Miss Potter herself would have enjoyed.
Imagining this scenario brings me to the simple little perfume oil I recently made to capture that feeling. I combined lavender-infused almond oil that I made recently with a few essential oils: geranium, bergamot, cardamom, and benzoin. This combination of scents is dreamy and floral, with a hint of sweet vanilla and warm spice. It’s nourishing to the skin and has a lovely calming effect.
The particular botanicals I chose also relate to this tea party I dreamed up. Geranium figured prominently into Beatrix Potter’s gardens and especially window boxes, with their cheery flowers and lovely rose-like scent. Bergamot, of course, is the key ingredient in Earl Grey tea, which was a bit of a special-occasion luxury to those in the Lake District at Beatrix’s time. Cardamom is more of a personal addition, but it’s my favorite and is the spice that I think ties florals, fruits, and musky scents together just right. And benzoin resin oil is an affordable alternative to vanilla with a distinctly vanilla creaminess; it also is traditionally used in incense to lift the spirits.
If you are also interested in folk and spiritual associations of botanicals, here are a few of the many associations I found for these:
Lavender: love, protection, calm, peace, insight
Geranium: uplifting and protection, balance, joy, beauty
Bergamot: happiness, harmony, love, courage
Cardamom: creativity, strength, focus, healing
Benzoin: purification, prosperity
If you’d like to join me at this imaginary tea party, here is the recipe!
One 10 ml essential oil roller bottle
Lavender-infused almond oil, or your carrier oil of choice
3 drops geranium essential oil
2 drops bergamot essential oil
2 drops cardamom essential oil
1-2 drops benzoin resin essential oil
Add lavender almond oil to the roller bottle until it is half full. Add the drops of essential oils. Top with more lavender almond oil, leaving about 1/4 inch head space. Securely place the roller top and lid on the bottle, then shake to mix. I like to let a perfume oil sit and infuse for a few days before using so the scents develop fully, but you wouldn’t have to.
Wear this perfume oil where you’d normally place perfume, and dream about springtime tea parties on sunny days! Just don’t forget to send me an invitation and let me know when teatime begins!
Also known as Candlemas or Midwinter, the first of February has long been a traditional time to celebrate the hope of winter’s end. The days are getting longer, the sun is beginning to return, and it’s time to start thinking about the seeds to be planted in spring (both literal and metaphorical). Traditionally, Imbolc was a feasting occasion and marked the lambing time, too. Nearing winter’s end the vegetable stores were dwindling, so foods involving milk, butter, and baking staples are customary.
It’s also a time to honor Brigid, who holds dual status as a pagan deity and as a Christian saint. She opens the way for spring’s return and is a fire and hearth goddess, among her many other associations. Brigid is also linked to fertility, inspiration, and poetry—all befitting the eager looking forward toward spring.
I decided to follow the Imbolc tradition of making a sweet celebratory baked good full of the dairy goodness traditionally associated with the occasion. I chose to make blackberry lemon poppyseed muffins specifically due to the ties between seeds and Imbolc, lemons and the sun as a symbol of the day, and blackberries and Brigid, to whom they are sacred. I also added cardamom as another seed connection (and because I adore it and add it to baked goods every chance I get).
This batch is delicious but turned out a bit…well, “rustic-looking!” Still, I think that is well within the spirit of the occasion. A couple changes I’d make the next time I make a batch of these include: use fewer blackberries (the recipe below is adjusted for that) and cut them up, bake a little longer, don’t do the 5 minutes at a higher temp at the beginning that the original recipe called for, and maybe consider larger muffin tins. (I’m far from an expert baker—so you get a realistic picture of the process here!)
“The odor of burning juniper is the sweetest fragrance on the face of the earth, in my honest judgment; I doubt if all the smoking censers of Dante’s paradise could equal it.”
Happy (belated) New Year!
Today, my wildlings are back at school, and I am celebrating the beginning of the new year with a simmer pot containing dried juniper berries, pine needles, orange slices, cinnamon, rosemary, and cloves. (You can read more about it on my Instagram post HERE.)
Did you know I wrote an article all about juniper folklore for the recent Winter Botanical Anthology? I’m case you missed it, and because juniper is such a lovely botanical for this time of year, I thought I’d share that article with you here today!
Though it’s perhaps not the first evergreen one thinks of in connection to winter, juniper has a long and storied history that often ties it to the colder parts of the year.
Juniper represents hope and warmth, thriving in overwrought soil where other trees can’t. It is symbolically, elementally, and astrologically associated with fire, ruled by the Sun and closely tied to Mars. Juniper also symbolizes eternal life.
The juniper tree’s berry-like cones and twigs provide food for animals, often the only available winter sustenance. They offer culinary and medicinal uses for humans, and there are many ritualistic applications for juniper’s wood and berries, as well. It is quite interesting how juniper’s folk associations mirror its medicinal uses.
The age-old use of juniper medicinally for healing, relieving stagnation, and protection from diseases probably stems in large part from the berries’ diuretic and anti-inflammatory properties. One of the most pleasant ways to administer these medicinal benefits came in the form of gin, the juniper berry liquor that dates back as far as the 11th century, as well as medicinal juniper twig beer.
In accord with these historical medical practices, juniper was—and still is—used in folk practice for protection. For disease, poison, plague, spirits, demons, and especially thievery, juniper has been a potent ward.
Often, smoke and charms are the vehicle by which juniper performs this protective service. Many cultures, including ancient Greeks and Egyptians, used juniper incense in this manner. Various types of protective amulets and charms were made from juniper berries, as well. The trees have even been long used in some places as Yule or Christmas trees or greenery for some added protection.
The Scottish have a long-standing winter tradition. The day after Hogmanay, the celebration of New Year’s eve, women would perform a saining, a smoke cleansing of the entire house with smoldering juniper branches. The aromatic smoke was carried and dispersed throughout the house for blessings, purification, and protection for the coming year; the same was performed through barns and to purify livestock.
Several species of juniper are also native to the Americas, as reflected by juniper’s presence in many indigenous Americans’ traditions and tales. Among those, the Hopi, Navajo, Blackfoot, and Seneca tell legends surrounding the tree or its berries. A Seneca tale involves junipers and other evergreens standing up to old man winter so spring may return.
While winter persists, perhaps juniper is a plant to explore a deeper relationship with. Whether it’s branches in greenery that decorates the home, fragrant incense, or even a sip of gin, inviting juniper in is a way to connect to this plant’s long history.