A Tea Witch’s Grimoire: Magickal Recipes for Your Tea Time, by S.M. Harlow
Weiser Books, 1578638216, 208 pages, October 2023
I read the most delightful book recently: Afternoon Tea Is the New Happy Hour by Gail Greco. This book gave me plenty of tantalizing ideas for teas, small plates, and other sweet treats to enjoy, BUT it didn’t venture into the magical aspects of tea, which is what I’m always looking to include in my daily routine. Luckily, A Tea Witch’s Grimoire: Magickal Recipes for Your Tea Time by S.M. Harlow has amply provided the mystical wisdom of tea that I’ve been craving.
“In the daily practice of the magical arts, the spirit desires enlightenment but also seeks nourishment and comfort. By our hands, we create earthly substances of vast power, and by our hearts, we tend to the fires of our soul.”1
Tea witch Harlow infuses this whole book with love for her craft. She shares how her grandmother, “a true Wise Woman”2, was constantly healing family and friends with her unique conceptions, seeming to just know what remedy was needed. In the same spirit of generosity and warmth, Harlow carries on the tradition of passing along knowledge by sharing what she’s learned in her on-going journey of mastering tea magic with readers.
The book starts right at square one, providing a description of tea, guidance on how to prepare and store herbs, covering the tea tools needed for this practice. I remember when I first got into drinking loose-leaf tea that I didn’t have the right items to steep it in, nor did I have a proper tea cup. So it’s worth reviewing the basics just to make sure you’re ready for the endeavor, especially if you’ll be preparing your own herbs too.
As for the teas Harlow shares, where do I start?! Well, she beings with remedies, which includes things such as happiness tea and purification tea, but also psychic protection and astral travel tea. I see this section as having all the tea rituals for what people would usually cast a spell for (binding, courage, friendship are just a few more teas covered!). She then covers teas for the moon phases and esbats (full moon each month), tea for every zodiac energy, and sabbat teas (Imbolc, Mabon, and so on). There’s even a section on creating blossoming tea, where the leaves unfurl when put in water.
For all of these teas, not only does Harlow provide the exact recipe, she also leads readers through the entire ritual, from what items are needed, how and when to prepare the tea, and what to focus on when drinking the tea. Some tea rituals are a bit more elaborate than others. It can vary from Harlow simply recommends a certain color mug to drink it from to a long list of specific items such as crystals, candles, salts, honey, and more.
For instance the items called for November’s Yarrow Moon Tea Esbat include “a black altar cloth, 1 white candle, heat-safe plate, 8 snowflake obsidians, an oil burner, Wisteria and lilac with a base oil, 1 bay leaf, a black and white mug, strainer.”3 I have no doubt all of these items blend together to truly create magic, but I certainly wouldn’t have these things lying around! Therefore it’s important to plan ahead and make sure you have time to gather all the ingredients and items needed for your tea ritual.
As for the ritual, Harlow guides readers to do a variety of things to enhance their spells. There’s the usual visualizations and chants, but at times she encourages readers to spit into their tea (break hexes), salute the energies around you, or speak aloud your intentions. Harlow also provides an entire section on reading tea leaves for divination, known as tasseography, where a list of symbols helps readers to know the messages coming through.
Beyond the specific rituals, Harlow provides a plethora of information about tea magic in general, including tea sigils, properties of various crystals, and uses of tea remnants in spellwork. Additionally, there’s an entire chapter on potions, as well as guidance for creating aromatic oils and vinegar, alcohol and milk tinctures, and moon water.
Finally, the chapter “Tables and Correspondences” is worth its weight in reference gold. It includes a table of brewing times based on tea type and a table of measurement conversions. There’s also a list of intentions/goals and the herbal correspondences, along with a sections on the elemental attributes of herbs and herbal substitutions o further help readers learn how to successfully create their own tea blends or alter the recipes she’s provided based on what one has available.
The book itself is a sturdy hardcover, which makes me feel it will be resistant to the spills that will ultimately happen as I am trying to turn a page while brewing my tea! There’s a whimsical quality to the illustrations, and they really provide an aesthetically pleasing browse through the text.
For those just learning about the magical aspects of tea, A Tea Witch’s Grimoire is a great place to start, though experienced tea witches certainly will also appreciate the compendium of recipes and rituals. Readers can reference this book year-round to trying out the different tea rituals as the seasons change, establishing their own relationship with the herbs. Or they can use the guidance of Harlow to manifest their will through the tea rituals, attracting or banishing what they want from their worlds, while also looking to the leaves for messages about the future. Harlow has created a true treasure trove of tea wisdom, and I for one am excited to start crafting my next brew!
Alanna Kali is an astrologer, numerologist, and pioneer spirit that loves to explore life through the lens of depth psychology. She has a passion for studying the humanities and social trends. Her academic work is centered upon reuniting body, mind, and spirit through eco-psychology. She loves reading, spending time in nature, and travel.