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.
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.
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?
I just finished reading the third and fourth books in the Practical Magic series by Alice Hoffman, Magic Lessons and The Book of Magic. I do not exaggerate when I say these books have been life altering for me. They capture so much, I can’t even put a fraction of it into words. All I can say is, go read these magical books!
Now, a thread that runs through all the stories is courage: courage to love, courage to get hurt, courage to take leaps and trust others and trust yourself. This is illustrated throughout the books by the frequent mention of Courage Tea. It’s an old family recipe that dates back to the Owens women who started it all, Hannah and Maria. The recipe has been passed down through the centuries to bolster the Owenses in the face of all the trials and demands of life, as well as those in need they minister to.
Hints of the recipe are dropped throughout the series, but the whole recipe is never explicitly stated. As explained in The Rules of Magic:
“Aunt Isabelle refused to hand over the formula for Courage Tea. That, she said, was one recipe you had to discover for yourself.”
Piecing together the hints and clues of the Courage Tea recipe from the books is actually a pretty fun scavenger hunt. I’ve spent a good deal of time on this exercise, and have filled in the blanks with my own additions as Aunt Isabelle instructed. I encourage you to do the same and come up with your own version if you read the books! But until then, here is my interpretation:
(A few notes on ingredients: I found dried currants at the grocery store. I use powdered vanilla bean in tea recipes because it is more affordable than whole vanilla beans while still imparting natural vanilla flavor; you can also add a dash of vanilla extract instead. You may want to adjust the thyme to taste based on how savory you like your tea to taste, as it can be quite strong. And, if you’d prefer a decaf version, you can leave out the green tea or replace it with rooibos.)
What would you put in your version of Courage Tea?
It’s only a few days until one of my favorite sabbats: Samhain, aka Halloween! I have been very connected to this special day since I was a child, and I now love sharing Halloween with my own little wildlings. It’s that time we invite the spooks and specters in. We celebrate the connection we all feel to the shadows in a way that is steeped in tradition, which makes it feel cozy and safe. It’s our metaphorical way of preparing for the approaching sleep and death in nature that winter brings.
All that said, I have a few simple and cozy ways I’m planning to celebrate the approach of Samhain this week, which I’m sharing here today!
My family and I plan to celebrate Halloween together in kid-friendly fashion this weekend. We will watch some not-so-spooky Halloween movies, paint and carve pumpkins, and (safely and with precautions) trick-or-treat. I also plan to brew up some spiced apple cider on the stovetop for us to share, infused with those autumn spiceswe love and enjoy!
I learned about the Irish tradition of baking barmbrack for Samhain this year, and I am planning to bake some for my family! I want to see if it’s a tradition we’d like to incorporate in the years to come, as I have a strong connection to my Irish heritage.
Barmbrack is a sort of cross between bread and a cake, baked with dried fruits and grounding autumn spices and eaten with butter. It’s a harvest season favorite and is traditionally baked with a little surprise hidden inside—a coin or a ring wrapped in parchment paper as a good luck charm for the person who finds it in their slice! You can find various recipes online, but HERE is the one I’m planning to try.
Cleaning & Clearing
The approach of Samhain has me feeling the need for a bit of a cleaning and clearing, for both practical and psychological reasons. As winter and the holiday season approach, it’s a good time for me to tidy up and de-clutter. I also notice that I’m needing to sort of reset my perspective, or clear out some stale and stagnant energy, as autumn deepens toward winter.
The physical act of tidying up the house is straightforward enough. It’s not my favorite job, but I’ve come to enjoy it well enough when accompanied by audiobooks or podcasts. But each day this week while I work on the cleaning, I plan to choose a candle, incense, or simmer pot with intention and use it to sort of sweep away the proverbial cobwebs, paired with open windows when it’s not raining.
I am excited to brew a few tea blends this week with Samhain in mind. Traditions across many cultures relate this time to remembrance of ancestors passed and introspection or even divination. I plan to spend some quiet time with some steaming pots of tea brewed to those ends. My grandma passed away a year ago on October 27th, so she will be very much on my mind this week (and during this week for the years to come), which ties right in.
In the northern hemisphere, the wheel of the year has turned to Lughnasadh! This August 1st sabbat marks the midpoint between Litha (summer solstice) and Mabon (autumn equinox). Even though Lughnasadh sits squarely within summer, it is the first harvest festival of the year and the kickoff to the harvest season. Lughnasadh is associated with abundance, as well as the sun, the colors yellow and gold, wheat, sunflowers, corn, berries, peppers, tomatoes, squash, beer, and bread.
Since my little wildlings’ schools start right around Lughnasadh, it’s a busy-but-happy time for us. Just like with Litha, I have some low-energy plans to help mark this sabbat in cozy, grounding ways.
Harvest Treat: Herbed Beer Bread
Bread-baking and enjoying is an essential part of Lughnasadh / Lammas (the other name for the day, which means “bread mass”). My favorite type of bread to bake, which is also thematically on-point for this sabbat, is beer bread. It is SUPER quick and easy, yet delicious, hearty, and rustic. It takes very few ingredients and the beer does most of the work for you—no yeast, proofing, or kneading required!
I’ve put together a Lughnasadh bread recipe Pinterest board that you can peruse and come up with a recipe that speaks to you! My plan is to start with a beer bread base using lemon beer, with some seasonally-specific additions, like possibly orange, pumpkin seeds, cardamom, cinnamon, and / or calendula. (Depending on how ambitious I feel this weekend!) These flavors are bright and sweet, with the citrus and spices sort of bridging the gap between summer and autumn.
If you have fresh herbs growing in your garden or window sill, now is the perfect time to harvest some and make a sun tea. But if you don’t have fresh herbs on hand, or you’re just wanting to try a new recipe, here is the potion I’m brewing for Lughnasadh:
3 parts green rooibos (or green tea)
2 parts tulsi
2 parts lemon balm (fresh or dried)
1.5 parts cinnamon chips
1 part dried orange peel OR some fresh orange slices
Dried or fresh pears, peaches, and/or lemon
Harvest Fun: Sunflower Picking and Harvest Decorating
Mr. Herbology Faerie likes to tease me by fake-complaining when I decorate the house for fall before September 1st. Which I usually ignore! This year will be no exception, though I do plan to hold off on pumpkins and leaves until September. Instead, I’ll focus on sunflowers, wheat, gourds, and yellow in honor of Lughnasadh. Decorating for the sabbats can be a cozy and therapeutic way to ground yourself in the season!
A fun family activity I’m hoping we squeeze in on Lughnasadh weekend is sunflower picking at a local flower farm. We went last year a little too late in the season to get any sunflowers; this year the plan is to head there in time for a sunflower bouquet for Lughnasadh.
Those are some of my low-key plans for celebrating Lughnasadh and the start of the harvest season! How are you planning to celebrate?
If you’re in the northern hemisphere like me, then the summer solstice, or Litha, is approaching! To me, there is nothing more hygge than aligning yourself with the seasons, the natural world around you, and traditions associated with each spoke on the wheel of the year.
To that end, this week I have a few super simple, low-energy activities planned to do with my kids. I am all for low-cost, low-prep ways to ground yourself in the season and reap what it has to offer. But I never seem to have time or energy to put a ton of effort into anything elaborate. That’s not really necessary, though! Do things up as big or as small as you like, but in my opinion, simplicity never goes amiss.
Summer Treats: Fruit Salad, Herbed Lemon Bars, Popsicles
The summer solstice revolves around the idea of transformation. The fruits of the season are ripe for the picking! So I’ve been making super simple fruit salads with local fruits, fresh herbs, raw honey, and squeezed citrus. This is an excellent way to experience the transformation of spring blossoms into summer bounty.
Later this week, the kids and I plan to also incorporate some of those fresh fruits and herbs in simple homemade ice pops! We are going to add vanilla yogurt (you can use dairy or plant-based) to make it a creamy, satisfying treat.
Finally, lemon bars are a summer favorite of mine. Add summer rosemary or lavender, and you’ve got a festive, cottagecore-worthy baked treat! While you can find some excellent recipes on Pinterest, I am probably just going to make a boxed mix and add my own herbs in. (No shame in the boxed mix game!)
Summer Sips: Cooling Iced Sun Teas
You can’t beat the power of the sun to brew tea. It’s so simple, and you feel like you’re sipping on summer sunshine when you drink your brews! Just add about a tablespoon of herbs per cup of water in a tea strainer or eco-friendly paper teabag, place in a glass jar, fill with cold water and put the lid on tightly, and leave in full sun for 2-4 hours. I sometimes stir in a bit of sweetener (honey works great or your own choice of sweetener), place in the fridge for several hours, and then sip straight from the jar with a reusable straw.
I have been mixing up hibiscus-based teas for the kids and I lately. Hibiscus is a delightfully tart, cooling botanical that is perfect for hot summer weather. It tastes a lot like cranberry juice as an iced tea, so it’s great for kids! Hibiscus is also known to be beneficial for your heart, circulation, and blood pressure.
Hibiscus, lemongrass, orange peel, rooibos, mint, calendula, gotu kola
Summer Moments: Fires and Flowers
Recently we took the kids for their first trip to a “beach,” at one of the largest lakes in our state. We had a blast swimming and playing in the sand! If you are lucky enough to live near a lake or ocean, it’s obviously a fun way to experience some nature in the summer sun.
Most of my plans for marking the solstice are much lower key, however. Taking evening walks when the heat of the day has just passed, burning citronella candles on the back porch (we don’t even have a fire pit, let alone a place for a bonfire!), and maybe making a craft from spent flower petals are all possibilities on the list.
So, those are some of my simple plans for celebrating Litha / the summer solstice this week! How are you planning to celebrate?
If you read my previous Herbalism in Fictionpost, you know I have very specific taste in favorite books, namely varying types of fiction featuring herbalism and absorbing, immersive imagery and description. The next book I’m going to touch on is a new favorite of mine, but by no means new: Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman.
To preface: I’ve heard excellent things about the film; though I haven’t seen it yet, and am very excited to, I’ve heard the overall tone of the film and book diverge a bit. I have a feeling it’s one of those cases where they are separate pieces of fiction that stand up in their own ways.
The book is a complex and magical tapestry woven with strands of sisterhood, womanhood, family ties and legacies, love and loss, the magical and the mundane, uniqueness and self-acceptance. The story begins with two little orphaned sisters, Sally and Gillian Owens, who go to live with their elderly witch aunts in the family’s curious, mysterious old home in Massachusetts. As the girls grow up and go their separate ways, forging paths for themselves in life, they find themselves ultimately needing that family magic in their lives despite their efforts to grow away from it.
Practical Magic is a mixture of literary fiction and magical realism, with heartwarming notes, dark and spooky threads, cozy and immersive imagery, painful beauty, and just the right bits of levity thrown in the mix. It is really a unique work of literature that will really pull at your heartstrings and ignite your imagination if you’ll let it!
As far as this book’s herbalism connection, it is an inextricable part of the dense palette of the story. Lush, vivid descriptions of the aunts’ herb garden, frequent recurrences of lavender and rosemary, mention of concoctions and poisons, and THAT lilac bush (when you read it, you’ll know!) put this book squarely on my list. And the aunts’ house with its dark corners, chandeliers, big window seat, mysterious portrait, and self-dusting woodwork (yes, please!) add just the hygge element I’m always searching for in books, too.
I am so glad I finally read this book! Not only does it tick all my boxes, but the story itself is both deep and thought-provoking while also lovely and sweet, ultimately. And there are a few other books about the renowned Owens women in publication or to come, which promises more books for this list!