Notes from a Wise Woman

Witchy Brews for Autumn

The natural world is coming to rest around us. It's time to pull out our hoodies, wooly socks, and cozy blankets as the trees let go until next spring.

The garden beds have been harvested and put to bed. All the buzz through spring and summer has come to an end.

I refuse to be rushed through these months. Autumn begs us to be quiet and linger before the bone chilling cold rushes in. Every other plant and animal is getting ready to slow down, I am allowed to slow down too.

This is hot beverage season. I love this time of year.

There is and opportunity for self care in every mug of hot tea, cocoa, cider, and coffee. I sip my witchy brews and take a lesson from the trees around me and let go.

This week, as the sun goes to bed ridiculously early, I have to share some of my favorite potions to comfort and keep us warm all through the winter!

Before we begin, lets clarify some terms. Tea or chai uses actual tea leaves while herbal mixtures might be called teas but do not necessarily contain black, green, or white tea leaves, rather a combination of flowers, dried fruit, and spices.

Sweet + Spicy Chicory Tea

There was a time, during quarantine, that I was really into The Good Witch; Where, over the course of several episodes, she tries to persuade her man to give up coffee. She suggests he replace his afternoon cup with chicory tea. Common chicory is a perennial herbaceous plant of the daisy family Asteraceae. Rich in beta-carotene, with a mild laxative effect, much like coffee, it is the roots that are harvested and roasted for tea.

My mixture is made with a combination of chicory, cinnamon, cloves, cardamon, and peppercorns, it is bold, pungent, and warm. I steep mine for at least 15 minutes before enjoying with steamed milk and spiced honey.

Báte Báte Chocolate

According to Mayan and the Aztec civilizations, chocolate was a gift from the gods. Aztecs revered food and drink made from cacao - they used it as a reward for victory in battle and during religious ceremony, and some used the beans as currency. Hot chocolate is everyone's favorite during this time of year.

Every household must have their traditions and recipes for hot chocolate but I enjoy Mexican coco tablets, which are boiled with milk or cream and mixed until frothy. It is a salve and sweet comfort for my inner child and every cup brings happiness.

Hot Toddy

Last but not least is a traditional but very adult beverage. The drink originated in pre-colonial India where taddy is a Hindi word that referred to a drink made from fermented palm sap.

By 1786 the British colonized both the word and the beverage, and "toddy" was recorded and defined "officially" as a beverage made with liquor, boiled water, sugar, and spices. Today I enjoy many teas with whiskey or spiced rum but the traditional recipe includes no tea at all:

  • 8-12 oz boiling water

  • 2 ounces scotch, bourbon, rye, Irish whiskey, dark rum, cognac or amaro

  • ¾ ounce honey or maple syrup (or 1 teaspoon raw sugar)

  • 1 (3-inch) lemon peel

  • Cinnamon stick and whole star anise, to garnish (optional

You can replace the liquor with 2 oz of fermented drink like your favorite kombucha or apple cider vinegar or fire water. However you prefer, no matter what your tradition, cheers, may you be surrounded by the warmth of love this season and beyond.

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