The Witches’ Brew

“What is the difference, Potter, between monkshood and wolfsbane?"

Every few months Jacob and I try to go to the Island to visit his parents. They live in a small and charming town of Comox, in a cozy rustic house surrounded by trees and water. I always love going there because it’s probably one of the most tranquil places I’ve ever been to. It’s so nice to feel far away from the hustle and bustle of the city and spend the days binging Netflix shows and eating homemade ice-cream!

When I was growing up I was very into all things magical ( Harry Potter came out when I was 7 so I was their prime target audience!...Still low-key waiting for my Hogwarts letter to arrive any day) and I remember making “potions” from flowers out in our yard. As I was growing up, my love for all things magical transcended into something more realistic like being interested in different herbs and their properties. Jacob’s mom always sends us home with a big jar of homemade tea at the end each visit - she grows most of the herbs in their garden.  You can imagine my joy when she asked me if I wanted to make some tea and proceeded to open a cupboard chock full of little jars and baggies of dried herbs, flowers and plants!

 My sleepy-time blend: chamomile, lavender, mint, valerian root, rose petals

My sleepy-time blend: chamomile, lavender, mint, valerian root, rose petals

We spent an afternoon talking about different tea mixes and I made a blend of my own creation. On our last visit she sent us home with a box full of all different herbs so I can make my own fresh mixes at home . I love the idea of being able to whip up a fresh cup of tea based on the exact flavours that you want – something you can’t quite get with the store bought tea.

Here are some herbs and their properties that I found the best for homemade tea:

  • Lavender - calming, natural sleeping aid, good for digestion

  • Chamomile - calming, great as a bed-time tea

  • Mint - good for digestion and can relive cramps and stomach pain

  • Valerian Root - natural sleeping aid, tames anxiety

  • Echinacea - aids with relief of cold, boost immunity

  • Rose Hips - reduces inflamation

  • Ginger - aids with digestion, reduces inflammation, boosts immunity

When I make tea, I usually just eyeball-it and don’t measure how much of each herb I put in a cup. I often just steep straight lavender, then add a teaspoon of honey and drink that before bed. I also love adding valerian root my my bed-time tea, but because it tastes pretty awful, I always add more mint, lavender and rose petals than usual to mask the taste.

If you don’t have the space or desire to grow your own herbs, there are plenty of places in Vancouver to get them. Obvious places like Save-on-Foods and Whole Foods would have some herbs in their bulk section. I also love going shopping on Main Street ( for so many reasons!) at The Soap Dispensary. Not only they sell many many dried herbs and bulk ingredients for cooking and baking, they also sell all-natural cleaning products that you can either pour in a container you brought with you, or you can pick up a container from the “free pile” at the store.

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Another place of choice for me would be Balance Botanicals aka actual herb heaven. Whenever I’m there, I truly feel like I’m stocking up on potion ingredients - the store decor definitely plays a part. The space is full of glass vials and bins with every ingredient imaginable, and there are cute hand-written recipe cards scattered around the store for hangover cures and energy boosters. Just writing about it makes me want to drop everything and go herb-shopping!

Do you have a favourite tea? Even though I usually drink pretty much the same tea blend that I make myself, I can’t wait to have some of this pumpkin chai from David’s Tea. It’s a must for me once autumn rolls around.

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