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!
I don’t know about you, but for me, lavender is a scent that makes me think of spring. (I’m not sure why, because it’s not in-season where I live until the summer!) Since I am dreaming so, so much about spring, and since I had just strained some lavender-infused almond oil and mint-infused coconut oil recently, I decided to make some relaxing lip balm with a springy scent to carry me away in my daydreams of warmth and sunshine.
Lavender is such a relaxing scent, and it pairs really well with uplifting peppermint. Also, both herbs have antimicrobial and skin soothing and replenishing properties. Most people find both to be gentle for use on the skin, but if you’re sensitive (or making this recipe for young children), you might want to eliminate one or both essential oils in the recipe, or use less of both.
Lip balm is not too tricky if you’re new to making body care products. Here’s the recipe, if you want to give it a try!
Lavender Peppermint Lip Balm
(Makes 7 0.5-oz containers of lip balm)
7 lip balm tins, 0.5 oz
Double boiler (optional)
28 g shea butter
20 g beeswax pellets
16 g almond oil infused with lavender flowers
8 g coconut oil infused with peppermint leaf
4 drops lavender essential oil
3 drops peppermint essential oil (or leave out if you have sensitive skin)
Prepare your supplies and area; you might want to put down a layer of parchment or waxed paper in case of dribbles. I place mine on a baking sheet.
Melt the beeswax pellets, shea butter, and infused oils slowly over low heat in the double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, set a large glass mixing bowl over a small saucepan containing about 1 inch of water, put your ingredients in the mixing bowl, and it works the same way.
Once the ingredients are melted, remove from heat and carefully add and stir in essential oil if you’re using it.
Carefully pour the hot liquid into your lip balm tins. Allow to cool completely for a good long while before using—I like to have my tins on a baking sheet and transfer that to the fridge for quicker setting, but that’s optional.
Once the lip balms are finished setting up, they’re ready to use!
Spring is finally upon us, Herbologists! In the Northern Hemisphere, the vernal (spring) equinox and the sabbat of Ostara fall on March 20th (while it’s Mabon in the Southern Hemisphere). This is a time traditionally associated with rebirth, creativity, growth, renewal, planting seeds, new beginnings, and balance. Many of us feel a renewal of our creative energy (follow-through is another story in my case, though!) and we are inspired to begin gardens, clean the house, or begin new projects and routines.
Ostara / the spring equinox feels much more like the beginning of the new year than January 1st to me, and I know some traditions view it as such. As the earth begins to warm and come alive, our energy tends to rise and rhythms return to more activity and excitement. It’s certainly a busy time of year!
In honor of the changing of the season, I am going to share a few low energy Ostara / equinox activities I am planning, as well as some spring herbal tea recipes I’ve developed. Hopefully this helps spark a few cozy, simple ideas for you, too!
Spring Simmer Pot
My kids enjoy a good seasonal simmer pot, so I am planning a spring-y one to mark the occasion. We’ll use ingredients like dried lavender, rose, eucalyptus, rosemary, and lemon to fill the house with a floral, herbal scent to welcome in spring.
If you haven’t made a simmer pot before, it’s pretty simple: choose your ingredients (plants, flowers, fruits, spices, etc.), add to a pan on the stovetop and cover the ingredients with water, simmer as long as you like, and add more water as needed so it doesn’t dry out and burn. This will fill the house with a clean, sweet scent (in the case of these floral and spring-y herbs) and all the cozy spring vibes to put everyone in the spirit of the occasion.
It is too soon where I live to begin planting this year’s garden yet, but my wildlings and I are all chomping at the bit to begin. So instead, I’m planning for us to discuss and begin planning our little container garden together. This will inevitably turn into an art project with my kiddos as they will want to illustrate their ideas! And perhaps we will start some seeds in the kitchen window sill, too.
Drinking seasonal teas is a wonderful way to literally welcome a new season in! On that note, I’m going to share a few of my favorite tea blend recipes in honor of the energies of Ostara and the spring equinox. Herbs can support us through this big transition in a big way!
The first recipe I’m sharing is one I simply call Ostara Tea. It contains herbal allies for gentle warming, grounding, immune support, and a sense of peace and calm.
1 part Chamomile
1 part Elderflower
1/2 part Ginger
1 part Green Rooibos
Citrus (peel / slices) – optional
Next up is the Inspired Spring tea blend for calm creative energy. It combines herbs that help with stress, boost your brain function, and provide calm balance. In this season of new directions and new leaves, this can be a great ally!
1 part Tulsi
1 part Linden
1/2 part Fennel
1-2 parts Spearmint
1 part Ginkgo
Finally, we have Springtime Sleepies, to help you wind down after a busy spring day so you can rebuild your energy reserves for the next day of springtime activities.
1 part Passionflower
2 parts Chamomile
1 part Rose
1/2 part Lavender
1/4 part Cardamom
So, those are a few of the simple ways my family will be ushering in Ostara and spring! Do you mark the spring equinox? How do you like to celebrate this season?
Hey there, Herbology Faeries! Since spring is almost here, I thought I’d share a new herb profile today about the herb I most associate with early spring: nettle.
Nettle, or stinging nettle, is a sign of early spring because in many places it flourishes during this time. Nettle is also a beneficial spring ally in aiding with seasonal allergies, nourishing and toning body systems after the winter, fighting inflammation, and much more. Folk traditions see nettle as a protective ally, helping with not only healing but also courage and banishing, and it’s not hard to see why when you encounter its prickles!
I know there are many who forage fresh nettles in the spring. There are many benefits to consuming local, fresh nettles. That said, not everyone has local nettles available or are not able to get out there and brave the stings to collect them fresh. That’s okay—high quality dried nettle can be purchased from small online apothecaries or Mountain Rose Herbs.
Nettle is a salty, slightly bitter, cooling and drying herb. It is nutrient dense, full of fiber, iron, calcium, and magnesium. Not only is nettle used to support allergies and to nourish the body, but it’s said to aid menstrual issues, eczema, fatigue, arthritis, and more. It’s a wonderful herb to consume daily as a holistic health aid for maintaining energy and health. The main safety considerations with nettles are the stings if you are working with fresh nettles (use gloves and blanch the leaves before consumption), and the diuretic effect the herb has—you might need to adjust your intake based on how strongly this affects you.
I do drink nettle in tea—it goes well combined with herbs like mint and rose. I am also intrigued with the idea of using nettle as food! You see many instances of this online: nettle pesto, nettle soup, even dried nettle used in baking. I am experimenting with using nettle in homemade ramen recipes for a salty, mineral-y kick and added nutrition!
Here is a simple springtime tea recipe featuring nettle, to get you started with this wonderful ally!
Daily Nettle Boost:
• 1 part nettle
• 1 part tulsi
• 1 part peppermint
• 1/2 part rosemary
This can be hot-brewed by the cup if you prefer it in small doses. You can also hot or cold brew it in a larger batch in a glass jar. If cold brewing, the longer you let it brew, the more helpful constituents will be infused into your tea. I’ve run across some sources that say you should hot brew nettle and let it infuse for 4+ hours to reap the full benefits, but I prefer my nettle a bit weaker and more palatable than that—to keep me coming back to it!
Have you tried nettles? How do you like to prepare them, or how do you think you would like to if you’re new to them?