Category: Herbs

Plant Rant: Gunpowder Green Tea

Gunpowder Green Tea

Hello, friends! Welcome back to the blog! Today’s gonna be another Plant Rant day. The next plant in the line of fire is Camellia sinensis, or tea bush, specifically prepared as gunpowder green tea. Before the rant begins, allow me to provide a bit of background. This quote from will explain it better than I can. 

“Gunpowder tea (also called Zhu Cha) is believed to have been first produced during the Tang dynasty (618-907 C.E.) in Zhejiang provenience of China. The withered and steamed green tea leaves were balled by hand into small pellets before being dried. Its English name came from its appearance as the tea pellets after drying look like shiny greenish-black pellets, much like gunpowder.” – Dominion Tea

Upon hearing that I wanted to buy gunpowder green tea, my gun and explosion enthusiast husband replied “I like gunpowder”. I told him that it was tea and I think he was disappointed. I don’t think I will be disappointed, though. I’m not the biggest fan of green tea, but I have ideas for how to make it work… 

First Impressions

My first experience with gunpowder green tea was in 2017 when I spent far too much money on some mint + gunpowder green tea from Teavana in Salt Lake City. I really enjoyed it. It was my first enjoyable experience with green tea that wasn’t matcha. (I have been known to slurp down matcha fraps like nobody’s business. Starbucks makes the best.) 

I am rarely a fan of green tea on its own, no matter how many times I try it. It leaves a bad aftertaste unless I put so much honey in it that it almost becomes green tea syrup. That mint + gunpowder tea was really nice, though, and I remembered that as I sort of lost control of my life and bought a pound of gunpowder green tea for myself yesterday. I don’t know if I’ll enjoy it, so that’s why I say I’ve lost control of my life. The total was a little under $30 including shipping, which isn’t terrible for something that should last me quite a while. The mission here is to find a blend that I will enjoy regularly even though I’m picky about green tea. 

Green Tea’s Benefits

I know green tea has several benefits, including caffeine. I’m a little scared to have this much caffeine within my grasp. I am a caffeine addict to the point where Mountain Dew does nothing for me anymore, even if I drink a liter of it in one sitting. We all know that is not healthy. I really should be reducing my caffeine intake to begin with. Going lower-carb has really helped with my energy levels, though. 

I also feel better in general as I eat fewer carbs. My hives are beginning to retreat and I feel better about life than I would if I were gorging myself on pasta every other minute. I’m down to about three small cups of coffee a day, sometimes a bit more. It’s far better than needing 5 or 6 huge ones like I used to. I can see myself leaving coffee behind someday in favor of tea, herbal or otherwise. 

Drinking herbal tea also helps when my chest gets tight from allergies. I call that chest tightness the Stick because it feels like there’s a stick in my throat when it comes around. I love the feeling of drinking hot tea when the Stick comes around. I wonder if the green tea will have the same effect. 

Emotional Regulation

I feel guilty for buying the tea in a way because I wanted to only work with herbals for a long time. I wanted to quit caffeine because I knew it was hurting me. I made it caffeine free for about a month before becoming very sad for long periods of time. It turns out that caffeine helps me regulate my emotions. 

I know that’s not the healthiest way to do things, but as I am becoming healthier, I feel better all around without as much caffeine. I’ve been having fewer sad days. Sometimes I still do have sad days, but they’re largely due to things happening mostly outside of my control. It’s awesome to see the sadness going away for the most part. Someday I’ll be able to regulate my emotions without caffeine. 

The Caffeine Queen

Speaking of caffeine, I don’t know if the tea will do a ton for me as far as that goes, but I look forward to finding a blend that’s actually tasty. If I manage that, I may drink enough to actually be wired. That would be a good time. Combine that with eating fewer carbs and I may have enough energy to get me through the day without wanting to nap, even if I am sad.

I’m actually writing this while caffeinated. They don’t call me the Caffeine Queen for nothing. Tea gives me a different sort of boost that’s softer, while coffee of any sort shoots me straight into the stratosphere. That’s another reason I’m excited to try this tea and blend with it. Soft caffeine would be nice for a change, especially as I’m gaining more energy. 

The Question of Blends

I know that jasmine and mint go really well with green tea, but I really want to try hibiscus and mint with it. The problem with this is that I’m currently out of hibiscus and running low on mint. This is unfortunate. I’ll grab more hibiscus next month. I want to only buy one herb or tea per month just so I don’t go crazy buying herbs. I have a bad herb problem, we all know that! I also want to blend it with lavender. It would be awesome to swap the chamomile for the gunpowder green in Frankenstein’s Sleepytime Tea to make an It’s Alive! tea. The idea of lavender, green tea, mint, and lemongrass sounds delightful. I might throw in some anise, as well. It could be cool to blend it with spices, too. 

Do you like green tea? What’s your favorite blend? Let me know in the comments! Stay cool!


Valerian – The Taste Of Stubbornness

Dear friends, we are gathered here today to discuss something important. The topic at hand is a very potent herb. This herb also happens to smell and taste how stubbornness would if it were possible to smell or taste it. I have gathered you here today to discuss my love hate relationship with the herb valerian.

All the valerian in a single place.
All the valerian in a single place.

I heard about valerian many years ago. The circumstances escape me, but I know that I liked it from the first time I heard about it. I always imagined it to be tasty, something like thyme or basil. It turns out that I didn’t know much about that herb at all because I learned that a.) you don’t use the leaves for tea, you use the roots and b.) the roots DO NOT taste like thyme or basil. Valerian is in a league all its own.

A Bit About Valerian

Valerian’s latin name is Valeriana officinalis. There are many different species in valerian’s plant family, but V. officinalis is the one that is most commonly used. As previously discussed, the root is the part of the plant that is used the most. It’s been used as a sleep aid since Ancient Greek times, where Hippocrates documented its use. It’s native to Europe and Asia, but can also be grown in the Americas. I got this information here

It’s also a jerk. 

A Lingering Taste In My Mouth

You might be wondering why I have been referring to valerian as a jerk. The short answer is because it tastes bitter. The longer answer is a rant. Brace yourselves, friends. 

I mentioned before that I thought valerian would taste like other herbs. I was in for a rude awakening. When I went to the herb store the other day, I asked to smell valerian. The owner let me smell some. I knew from that point forward that we were gonna have a good, old fashioned love-hate relationship. I took some home and brewed it up along with some very pleasant other herbs like lemongrass, jasmine, chamomile, honeysuckle, etc. to make a sleepytime tea. When I drank the tea, the result was rather odd. 

If I had to describe it visually, it’d look something like: 

jasmine+chamomile..bitterbitterbitterbitter…VALERIAN…smooth, sweet finish. I would have been fine with that had the bitter taste of valerian not LINGERED in my MOUTH. To make matters worse, the valerian taste built up on my tongue. I was displeased. 

All this being said, valerian did its job. I was out cold for the whole night. I had some weird dreams, but they weren’t bad and the night was uneventful otherwise. 

The Taste Of Stubbornness

I love valerian for what it can do. I’m working on incorporating it into blends. Last night’s blend was a party in a cup and valerian was invited. It also knocked me the heck out again, which was super nice. 

I call it the taste of stubbornness because valerian will have its way in a blend. I’m scared to try it on its own because of what happened the other night with the flavor sticking out like a sore thumb. That being said, I used cinnamon last night to balance it out. It worked! I added the valerian first and added everything else to match its intensity. 

This same tactic also works with other bitter herbs like vervain and agrimony. Add them first, I’ve found,then blend the other ingredients to match. 

Tea blending is fun, friends! Are there are any blends you want me to try? I have more rooibos than I know what to do with..

Thank you for reading!


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Herbs I Know Nothing About, Pt. 2: Agrimony

Herbs I Know Nothing About, Pt. 2: Agrimony

Hello, friends!! Welcome back! Today we’re going to talk about another fascinating herb: agrimony. I was again going through my favorite herb website and found it! Continuing with the tradition of my post on vervain, I’ll present some research about it, including that which is backed by science. Unfortunately, unlike vervain, there isn’t a ton of research done with it. I also I want to talk about how I would personally use it. It turns out that it’s something I’d use a ton of.

Before we continue….

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase using one of these links, I make a commission from the sale at no extra cost to you.

Now, the first question we should answer is what does agrimony look and taste like? has the answer:

From the long, black and somewhat woody perennial root, the erect cylindrical and slightly rough stem rises 1 or 2 feet, sometimes more, mostly unbranched, or very slightly branched in large specimens. The leaves are numerous and very rich in outline, those near the ground are often 7 or 8 inches long, while the upper ones are generally only about 3 inches in length. They are pinnate in form, i.e. divided up to the mid-rib into pairs of leaflets….

The flowers, though small, are numerous, arranged closely on slender, terminal spikes, which lengthen much when the blossoms have withered and the seed-vessels are maturing. At the base of each flower, which is placed stalkless on the long spike, is a small bract, cleft into three acute segments. The flowers, about 3/8 inch across, have five conspicuous and spreading petals, which are egg-shaped in form and somewhat narrow in proportion to their length, slightly notched at the end and of a bright yellow colour. The stamens are five to twelve in number. The flowers face boldly outwards and upwards towards the light, but after they have withered, the calyx points downwards. has information about the flavor: 

Agrimony’s fragrance is often likened to apricots or citrus fruit but its flavor is bitter and astringent. Because of this, you may want to sweeten it for making tea.

I want to find a suitable sweetener for it now.

Now that we have an idea of what it looks and tastes like, onto the next question: how is agrimony used medicinally?

Medicinal Uses Of Agrimony

Author’s Note: Using a lot of agrimony will make your skin more sensitive to light due to the chemicals it contains. Also, please bear in mind that I am not a medical professional. Any information I give about this herb is not intended to replace the advice or care of your doctors, nurse practitioners, etc.. Please talk to your docs about using agrimony if you have any questions!

I was doing some digging this morning and learned that agrimony has been used for centuries primarily as a diuretic (a substance that, for lack of a better description, makes you want to urinate more), a digestive aid, and as an astringent (something that makes body tissues contract) for wounds. Historically, the Anglo-Saxons used it much like it is used in modern times – typically as an astringent, to help with stomachaches, and to ease sore throats. Gargling boiling water with agrimony steeped in it was excellent for easing sore throats. 

On another note, medieval soldiers used it to treat gunshot wounds and people generally used it to back ailments, and hemorrhages. 

As stated in the introduction, there isn’t much cold, hard science backing it, though there is a 2013 study that confirmed a few of these properties. It’s also used for treating sore throats and as an anti-inflammatory. People also say that it’s effective for treating irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). I’ll be sure to keep that in mind as I add it to my herb stash. 

Now, here’s why I personally like it.

A Bit About Me: Why I Like Agrimony

To begin this story, we must first go back to the year 1998. I was a little baby who had just gone through a medical hell. My heart failed, and in order to fix that, the doctors hooked me up to a machine that would oxygenate my blood for me. After I was disconnected from that, they had to tie off my carotid artery on my right side. (The internal carotid arteries carry oxygenated blood to the brain.) I was at a high risk for having a stroke…and have a stroke I did. 

I suppose my tiny self forgot what life was for a second, pulled my breathing tube out of my throat, and promptly had a stroke. Being the angry individual I am, my anger was evident even after I had my stroke. Things were still bad after this ordeal. I couldn’t keep any food in my stomach, so I was given an operation called a Nissen fundoplication. This operation tied the top of my stomach around the bottom of my esophagus and made it so that food could go down, but couldn’t come up. This caused a lot of stomach pain while I was growing up because gas would get trapped in my digestive tract and took a long time to escape. 

Later on, I was also diagnosed with IBS myself. I would love to try agrimony because I think it could help with my stomachaches. There are days I want nothing more than for the pain and nausea to go away. The nausea and pain get really bad around the time of my period and it sucks. I want to make a different sort of anti-inflammatory tea for that. I think agrimony and peppermint would definitely help with this in general. 

Fantastic Herbs and Where To Find Them

I want to try agrimony in a blend with anise and peppermint! Try it along with me! Pick up your herbs at the links below. 

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Like Swallowing Fire: Special Edition Tea Making Post

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Hello, friends! I have created this very special special edition of Order In Discord to discuss something very important – swallowing fire.

If you’ve hung around here for a while, you might remember my ginger + turmeric + red pepper anti-inflammatory potion. Ever since making it that one night, I have wanted to make it again. While I was at the grocery store, I found fresh ginger and turmeric. I snatched some up (about 0.6 lbs each), checked out, and headed home.

Eating ginger is like swallowing fire.
Ginger and turmeric roots.

The first task was chopping them up. I was really scared to peel them because I don’t like sharp objects. It took a lot of courage to even cut them.

A bit of a digression here…

Before I picked up the ginger and turmeric, I heard a song that my dad and I both loved – “Walk on the Ocean” by Toad The Wet Sprocket – in the grocery store. I almost started bawling in the middle of the aisle. It’s been a really hard week for me with regards to grief. I think my dad was hanging around last night. My husband was talking to our housemate about how engines work while I worked on last night’s post about the sleepytime tea. Their discussion reminded me of one my dad would have. I thought of that song in the store, last night, and the process of getting over my fear of knives as I cut the ginger and turmeric.

The chopped turmeric.

People have told me that the only way to get over a fear is to face it head on. In the case of knives, I must learn to use a knife if I’m ever going to stop being afraid of them, so I did a courageous thing today and cut the turmeric and ginger up into little pieces.

Stock Pot Tea

After all of the chopping was done, I stuck the pieces in a stock pot and covered them with water. I put the pot on the stove on high heat, stirring it as it came to a boil. I also added 2 cinnamon sticks and a healthy (?) dose of crushed red pepper. I kept stirring as it boiled, and the result was a dark brown liquid. It was incredibly spicy by the time I pulled it off the stove, so spicy that it took 3 cups of whole milk to get the burn to go away at one point.

(Tip for those sensitive to spice: milk is good at getting spicy pain to go away, but butter is better.)

The tea in a mug.

It got less spicy as it cooled, or I got used to it, seeing as I’m on cup #6 of the stuff, I think. I’ve lost count. I still have a long way to go to finish the pot. I want to make this tea when I’m sick because it cleaned out my sinuses! It’s spicier than a lot of hot sauces I’ve tried at restaurants. I’m pretty sure that people who are used to spice would have no problem with it, though.

Like Swallowing Fire

At first I titled this post “Like Swallowing Fire” because I wanted it to have a cool name. After some thought, though, it’s more accurate than I imagined it it would be.

I have been doing a lot of thought about spiritual tests and the nature of grief these last few days. It’s been hard, especially with my dad’s birthday a bit ago. When I’m not writing blog posts, I deal in a lot of imagery because I love to write poetry. I think the image of swallowing fire goes beyond the taste of tea. In my life, I can either swallow the fire and show up to life, or the fire can swallow me. It’s my choice. I’ve been going through a lot of difficult things lately. Like braving the taste of spicy tea, dealing with grief, and cutting turmeric, I can either plunge headlong into hard things or run away from them. The question I must answer is: will this break me?

My answer is no. Absolutely not.

Thank you for reading.

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Herbs I Know Nothing About, Part One: Vervain

A Pinterest-style graphic that reads "Herbs I Know Nothing About: Vervain
A Research Project, Part 1."

Hey, all! I was scrolling through my favorite herb website to see what all they had to offer. I was looking for something I could write about that I’d had before, not something I was unfamiliar with like vervain or motherwort. It turns out that their selection was more extensive than I had previously thought, and there were many herbs I had indeed never even heard of before. A few caught my eye and I thought what on Earth are these? Why have I never heard of them before? I was very curious about them, so when I got up this morning, I decided to research these herbs I know nothing about and then write about them here. I will also add some suggested herbs to blend with the herb of the day.

Before we continue….

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase using one of these links, I make a commission from the sale at no extra cost to you.

Today’s herb is….drumroll, please: vervain!

You might be asking what the heck is a vervain? right about now. Believe me, that was my reaction, as well. After researching, I learned more about it and it’s pretty cool! Here’s a little bit about this spectacular plant!

A Bit About Vervain

This is an herb of many names. Its proper name is Verbena officinalis. It’s sometimes called the Herb of Grace, Herb of the Cross, Simpler’s Joy, and Juno’s Tears, to name a few names it goes by. However, it is more commonly known as verbena. Vervain is not to be confused with lemon verbena. They are two different species of plants, though they both have medicinal properties. There are around 250 species of verbena in the world, fun fact! I even got vervain and lemon verbena confused at first! Let’s talk a bit more about the medicinal properties of vervain. I got this information here and here.

Vervain’s Medicinal Properties

Before we continue: If you’re interested in trying vervain, don’t take it if you’re pregnant. It can induce labor. Also, while I am citing my sources, I am not a doctor. Please use vervain with caution and ask your doctor any questions you may have about it.

I learned in my research that people have been using vervain for centuries to treat many things from anxiety and depression to cramps and pain relief to insomnia and beyond. It’s been used as an anti-spasmodic (relaxant), a treatment for upper respiratory infections, and as a sedative.

Studies About Vervain

A 2006 study in Spain showed that it was effective as an anti-inflammatory in rats. A 2016 study on mice given vervain extract provided evidence for vervain’s ability to act as an anti-convulsant. The mice that were given the vervain also slept more and were less anxious than the control group given a placebo. I thought that this was super cool. I also wondered about how vervain functions in traditional witchcraft.

Vervain in Witchcraft/Spellwork

While searching for information on this topic, I found a website that said it better than I can.

“It is used as protective herb, to open up the third eye, to help the user to be more intuitive and to bring blessings into your life. You can steep the herbs in water or oil for later use. It’s great for cleansing and purifying spaces and magical tools, and for taking before going to bed if you are doing dream work.”

It’s most commonly consumed in tea and has a bitter flavor. According to the website, the medieval abbess and saint Hildegard Von Bingen thought this of the flavor:

The traditional application of medicinal vervain is in tea. The flavor of vervain tea takes some getting used to. Our modern palettes are less accustomed to bitter flavors and vervain is particularly bitter.  

Hildegard extoled the virtues of bitter flavors and encouraged working to improve our tolerance for bitter herbs. Notwithstanding the taste, vervain has played an important role in healing and herbal magic since ancient times. So, you should try to include it in your natural holistic healing regimen. Making your own vervain tea is a great way to start.

This brings us to the big question of this post – after learning what we have about vervain, how do we use it for ourselves?

Let’s Make Our Own Tea!

Healthy Hildegard has a recipe!

Mix ten dry grams (approx 1/3 ounce) each of vervain, thyme, elderflower, cowslip primrose, and peppermint. 
Add 2 heaping teaspoons of the herbal mixture per one cup of hot water. Allow to steep for ten minutes. 
Drink two to three cups daily, but for no longer than a week (and not during pregnancy). You can drink vervain tea to treat any of the conditions listed previously, but it works particularly well for stomach ailments of all kinds. It will also strengthen your liver and kidneys. 
We often talk about the value of bitter substances, particularly as digestive agents. Vervain has a bitter flavor profile so it is also a natural way to add bitter flavors into your diet.

Curious about where to get these herbs? I got you…on everything but the cowslip primrose. I couldn’t find it.

Thank you for reading!! Check out these related posts!
How To Use Chamomile
Frankenstein’s Sleepytime Tea

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Frankenstein’s Sleepytime Tea: A Blend of Blends

Hello, friends! In today’s post we’re returning to the kitchen to talk about a very important tea blend I have crafted. I call it Frankenstein’s Sleepytime Tea. I gave it that name because it’s a tea blend made up of other blends. Side note: Victor Frankenstein and his monster might have encountered the herbs in the tea! I’ll post links to get the herbs in the blend at the end. Without further ado, here’s the story.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase using one of these links, I make a commission from the sale at no extra cost to you.

The Beginning: A Crazy Idea

Like almost all good stories, our tea story begins with someone having a crazy idea. In this story’s case, the person who had the idea was me. My husband wanted me to drink chamomile tea to try and get my body to calm down during an allergic reaction. Being the crazy one that I am, I added more things to the chamomile that sounded good based off of the research I did for my chamomile post. Suffice it so say that my husband was displeased with this venture, but it did help me feel better. Here’s how it happened.

The Process: Making The Sleepytime Tea

I had a handful of tea blends in bags sitting around, plus a bag of lavender. I knew that lavender blended well with chamomile, so I popped some lavender in a jar, ripped open several K-cups and tea bags filled with chamomile, then added an echinacea blend. Echinacea is an immune booster. It could help, I thought. The blend also contained lemongrass and spearmint. Lemongrass and spearmint also popped up in another blend, so that blend went into the jar. It also contained marshmallow root, which helps with sore throats. Again, I figured it would help, so it went in. I added a bag of peppermint tea, which made it smell heavenly. Then I brewed up a batch.

Sleepytime Tea brewing.
The brewing tea.

It was absolutely delicious. I did end up feeling better and the tea was very calming. I want to recreate this blend on a larger scale, so I asked my husband what he would do if he found a small barrel filled with several pounds of the tea inside on the countertop. His response was not the most positive thing ever.

I’ve picked out the herbs from Starwest Botanicals. They come in one pound bags. I recommend getting the bulk bags because you have more to experiment with later.
Marshmallow root
Echinacea purpurea
Echinacea angustifolia

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How To Use Chamomile

How To Use Chamomile - A Tea Blend Guide

Hello, all! If you had a childhood like mine, you had chamomile tea to help you settle down before bed. It is a popular sleep aid and just the tea itself can be very calming! If I ever have little ones running around, I’ll whip up a batch of tea that includes this glorious herb before bed! It will be a staple of my kitchen. Did you know that this herb blends very well with other herbs? This post will walk you through how to use it and what to blend it with.

I love blending chamomile with other herbs. Chamomile is very mild and smooth. It doesn’t have the tanginess of hibiscus or the bite of mint. It blends well with many other herbs. I have tried it with blended with jasmine and blended with lavender, but I’ve found some other interesting recommendations from around the web that I’d like to try. Let’s talk about blends!

Jasmine + Chamomile

This blend is absolutely amazing and smooth. I made it for a friend whom I actually met in a coffee shop and then drank almost all of it myself. The blend is named “Smooth Criminal” because of how smooth and delicious it was. I blended it using a 1:1 ratio. It’s cool that I drank a lot of it, but I’m also sad that my friend didn’t get to try.

Regarding where to get these herbs, I like Frontier Co-op’s selection and quality! I’m not affiliated with them in any way, I just like their products. Another awesome thing is that they have free economy shipping on orders over $25. Pick up your jasmine and chamomile here and here.

Adding Lavender to the Mix

Lavender is another calming herb that smells great to most people and helps them chill out. If you like lavender, I highly recommend adding it to your tea blend. It’s got a slightly heavier flavor that I really enjoy. You can also add jasmine again, either by itself or with chamomile. Have fun with it and pick up your lavender here.

Here Be Dragons

Here are some blends that I have yet to try that looked interesting. I found them on the forums at Some people suggested pairing it with spearmint, hibiscus, or lemongrass. I personally want to try it with valerian (another sleep aid) for maximum sleep time. I’ll try all of them!

How do you like to blend chamomile, tea fans? Let me know in the comments!

If this post helped you, please do two things:

  1. Check my other tea post out!
  2. Consider buying the blog a coffee on Ko-Fi! OID runs entirely on donations. All the caffeine that we receive go towards growing the blog, buying new herbs, and trying new things! Click that lovely red button below!


I’m Eris. Welcome to my blog!

I’m what the kids call a crazy kitchen witch. I love to cook, share recipes, and talk about spiritual things. I am very new to the term “witch”, so bear with me as I figure stuff out! Everyone practices differently, so I’m trying to find what suits me. I’m leaning towards herbal and food magic. You’ll find me on my computer blogging, talking to my friends, in the kitchen making food or tea, or doing my thing on Pinterest! I’m building a witchy compendium of goodness there and I’m quite pleased with it. Follow me!

I’m blogging buddies with Tori at The Less than Perfect Life and we both cook and do awesome stuff with herbs, so you’ll be hearing from and about her, too! She’s awesome.

Watch this space and stay cool!


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