I’ll admit—this recipe was inspired entirely by rewatching old episodes of the Great British Bake Off. I keep seeing shortbread cookies, and hearing them talk of how their “biscuits” have a satisfying snap. My midwestern American palate is much more accustomed to gooey, soft cookies which are delicious but a bit simpler. So I thought I’d try my hand at some springy shortbread cookies—which, of course, had to incorporate herbs.
In addition to a classically sweet and crisp shortbread recipe, I’ve combined the flavors of rose, orange, cardamom, vanilla, and honey. These lend a distinctly layered complexity to the mild taste of the biscuits and help them pair even better with a lovely black tea. (Springtime tea party recipe, perhaps?) Also, all these botanicals are uplifting, bright, and fresh. It’s the perfect light sweet after a winter of heavy sweets and spices.
I don’t know why exactly, but spring makes me think of Earl Grey tea. Maybe it’s the citrusy bergamot, or the fact that I’m just more in the mood in spring than any other season to drink black tea…it’s more stimulating than caffeine-free herbs, but lighter than coffee. Maybe flowers and tea parties just make me think of spring? I don’t know, but let’s go with it!
In that spirit…I decided to make a lavender Earl Grey teacup candle to welcome Ostara. To me, Ostara, or the Spring Equinox, is the true start of the new year: the awakening. What better way to brighten the sweet first morning of spring than lighting this candle to add to the warmth of the sun, and enjoying a mug of Earl Grey tea?
The essential oils I chose to scent the candle with do have associations that fit quite well with the spirit of the occasion:
Lavender- love, protection, calm, peace, insight
Bergamot- happiness, harmony, love, courage
Benzoin- purification, prosperity
Cardamom- creativity, strength, focus, healing
Benzoin oil imparts a warm, creamy vanilla-like scent which reminds me of adding milk to tea, and cardamom adds a tea-like quality. I also topped the candle with amethyst, quartz, lavender buds, and a bit of actual lavender Earl Grey tea.
Here are the instructions, in case you’d like to make one of these sweet candles yourself!
This Ostara season I’m planning to enjoy this little candle with tea and shortbread cookies with the two of my three children that actually like tea. (Two out of three isn’t bad, and he will still eat the cookies!) —cookie recipe soon to come.
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.
To celebrate the winter solstice and Yule, I have made some special candles to help mark the occasion as my family and I make (and eat!) cookies and read books about the solstice. Although it is the official beginning of winter, it is also the darkest night—and the light of our candles reminds us that the warmth of the sun shines through and will strengthen with each coming day. It is how people have long gathered their courage to face the winter’s cold: the returning of the light offers hope.
For my Yule Forest candles, I combined beeswax, a bit of coconut oil, and essential oils for a natural scent option. (Make sure you do your due diligence in choosing ethical essential oil companies to buy from 💚). Here are the scents I chose, along with their symbolic attributes:
Here are the directions for making the candles if you’d like to make some, too!
Making 6 candles:
We will enjoy the gentle light and wintry woods scent of one of these candles (I made 6 so I could gift the others to loved ones) while munching on chai snickerdoodles and reading. The pictured books (Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter and the winter story from Little Witch Hazel) are a couple of our favorites to welcome the solstice.
I am proud to say that the winter edition of Botanical Anthology, a plant-centered, seasonal digital publication with over 45 articles from 30 contributors, is available for purchase!
I am so excited for this beautiful publication to be out in the world, and so proud to be a part of it along with so many creative contributors. This issue is gorgeous and bursting at the seams with lovely, cozy, healing, creative, and meaningful ways to tap into the spirit of the winter season. I personally can’t wait to dive into all the inspiring lore, wisdom, recipes, rituals, crafts, and more.
In the winter edition, you’ll find articles, recipes, and ideas to help you:
*Sip on immune tea, miso broth, wassail + gingerbread golden milk
*Learn how to make ghee, gluten free sourdough and activated nuts
*Whip up hand sanitizer, a warming foot bath and body butter
*Forage wintergreen, raspberry stems and chaga
*Develop rituals + routines for the season ahead while listening to a winter playlist
*Weave wreaths, make trinket dishes + draw narcissus
*Celebrate Winter Solstice, Midwinter + Valentine’s Day with simple observances
And so much more!
I contributed five pieces to this edition, including an article about immune-boosting herbs with a tea recipe, a piece about the folklore surrounding juniper, a deep-dive into a few winter deities and their plant associations, and a review of one of my favorite books about tea. I so enjoyed writing these articles, and I hope you get a chance to read them!
The Botanical Anthology is a seasonal digital magazine for plant and nature lovers with articles to help you incorporate herbs into your home apothecary, kitchen, foraging, crafts, and wintertime celebrations. It was founded by the Plant Wonder Collective, a group of like-minded plant lovers from a variety of backgrounds and walks of life who each have unique perspectives and approaches to share. Nurture your mind, body, and spirit through the winter season with the words and ideas from our hearts to yours!
Until 12/15, grab your copy for $20 and receive the bonus evergreen booklet. Download instantly and dive right into the 150+ pages of plant magic!
It’s the time of year when digestion is key! Heavy, rich foods abound due to the holidays and the approach of winter, and many of us need some extra relief.
Often, digestion teas rely heavily on ginger, but I find it too spicy and irritating sometimes. I often need more of a cooling approach to indigestion instead. That’s where this tasty vanilla digestion tea comes in!
Vanilla is an aromatic stimulant and carminative botanical, with anti-inflammatory, digestive-soothing, calming, and fever easing benefits. These properties make it a great ingredient in a digestion tea!
In the interest of a more cooling approach to digestion, I’ve combined the vanilla with meadowsweet, mint, and fennel seed. If you add honey or your sweetener of choice, it’s a light and tasty dessert all on its own with a taste reminiscent of candy canes!
A bit of a breakdown of the other herbal ingredients I’ve combined with the vanilla here—
Mint can be both warming and cooling, depending on your constitution, but I find it affects me in a soothing and cooling manner. It is a mildly stimulating herb, so it aids in moving things along in the digestion process.
Meadowsweet is a top tier digestion reliever. Its cooling, drying, astringent, inflammation modulating, and even pain modulating properties make it an indispensable ally. However, if you’re sensitive to aspirin, you should avoid meadowsweet because it contains naturally-occurring salicylic acid. (If this is you, substitute chamomile or elderflower.)
Fennel is one of my very favorite herbs for digestion. It’s a pungent aromatic herb with antispasmodic and carminative properties, making it ideal for a digestion tea. Interestingly, I found a hand-written note in my great grandmother’s herbalism books suggesting to use fennel for calming. Though it isn’t technically considered a nervine or adaptogen, there is an inextricable link between gut health and mental health, so it does check out!
Here is the simple and sweet recipe for cooling vanilla digestion tea:
1 part vanilla (use chopped vanilla beans or powdered vanilla bean—my choice for economical purposes)
2 parts meadowsweet
2 parts mint
1 part fennel seed
Brew for about 5 minutes; longer can cause a bitter taste from the meadowsweet.
Do you suffer from digestive issues this time of year? Let me know if you try this tea! You might find that soothed digestion leads to a calmer state of mind this time of year!
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?