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Winter Folklore Tea Inspiration

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November 28, 2022

A cold wind howls, sending swirls of snow through the icy night air. Seeking refuge from this bitter winter weather, a family gathers around the hearth. They feed logs to the fire and take turns sharing stories as the night darkens. 

This scene has played out countless times each winter since the dawn of civilization, in places and cultures all around the globe. Winter was the traditional time for storytelling, both because of the many mystical events that are said to happen during this season, but also because it happens to be a wonderful pastime for keeping spirits high during the long, dark nights. 

Similarly, the connection between herbs and folklore predates history itself. For thousands of years, humans have passed down tales to explain the origins and benefits of various herbs.

In celebration of this time-honored tradition, we are highlighting a few winter folk stories, fables and fairytales from around the world, as well as recommended teas inspired by each tale. 

Old Man Winter

Old Man Winter is the personification of winter itself. Variations of the Old Man Winter archetype have appeared in myths and tales from various cultures across the globe. Generally he is depicted as an old man with the ability to blow icy winds and snowstorms across the landscape. In some tales, his footsteps freeze the earth as he roams the land. Old Man Winter appears as a character in several Native Americans legends, such as in the Iroquois tale of how Winter was driven back by Spring. 

Jack Frost is a wellknown variant of the Old Man Winter archetype, who is said to nip the extremities and leave frost on windows on chilly winter days. He is often depicted as a trickster spirit, sometimes functioning as a villain and other times as a hero. 

Tea to Try: Stress Less WinterMint Tea A blend of cool peppermint and bright citrus flavors makes this a perfectly balanced herbal tea for winter sipping. 

Visions of Sugar Plums

Sugar plums are commonly associated with Christmas, from The Nutcracker’s Sugar Plum Fairy to the iconic line “While visions of sugar plums danced in their heads” in the poem “The Night Before Christmas”. But what exactly is a sugar plum, and what does it have to do with Christmas?

In past eras, boiling fruit with sugar was an effective preservation method. Yet in 16th century England, the phrase “sugar plum” could refer to all manner of sweet and round confections, such as dried fruit rolled with nuts and hardened sugar. These treats were quite the luxury, and “sugar plum” became a way of denoting anything lovely and desirable. It is no wonder then that the Sugar Plum Fairy was chosen to rule over the sumptuous Land of Sweets in The Nutcracker, where Clara and the Prince delight in all manner of candies and beverages. 

Tea to Try: Cinnamon Plum Black Tea Let visions of sugar plums dance in your head as you delight in this infusion of zesty cinnamon and sweet, ripe plum flavors. 

La Befana

Santa Claus may get all of the credit for delivering gifts to children at Christmastime, but as it turns out, he is not the only one to do so. In Italian folklore, La Befana is a witch who flies through the night skies on a broomstick to bring toys and sweets to wellbehaved children on Epiphany Eve (the night of January 5th). However, badlybehaved children might wake up to find a lump of coal in their stockings instead. 

In modern times, all Italian children often receive “coal” made of darkened rock candy on Epiphany, representing the idea that every child is both good and bad throughout the year. According to legend, baby Jesus was the first child to receive a gift of sweets from Befana after his birth. Italians commemorate Befana with a number of desserts, including rum and citrus flavored shortbread cookies known as Befanini, and yeast cake speckled with apples, candied orange peel, dried fruits and nuts called pinza.

Tea to Try: Tea of Good Tidings – Delight in the flavor of traditional winter fruits, spices and nuts in this full-leaf blend featuring black tea leaves, orange peel, almonds, cranberries, cloves and more. 

Yuki Onna, The Snow Woman

Japanese folklore is rich in spirits and supernatural entities known as yokai. Among these is Yuki Onna, which translates to “snow woman.” According to most legends, Yuki Onna is an ethereal and strikingly beautiful woman with long black hair, pale white skin and piercing eyes; according to other tales, she is an older woman with a haglike appearance. 

In spite of her captivating beauty or perhaps because of it Yuki Onna is a dangerous spirit. She is said to drift along on nights when the snow piles high, leaving no footprints, and leading travelers astray so they freeze to death. In other stories she sucks the vital life force energy out of her victims. In any case, her tales warn against wandering alone on snowy winter nights, especially when the moon is full. 

Tea to Try: Tea of Inquiry FullLeaf Tea Even on the coldest of days, chase away the chill of winter with this robust cup featuring Japanese green tea leaves and toasted rice. 

Father Christmas

Of course, an exploration of winter folklore would not be complete without mentioning Father Christmas better known as Saint Nicholas or Santa Claus. Today he is best known for his flying reindeer and enchanted sack of toys. However, his legends date back to the Middle Ages when he first appeared as the personification of Christmas. 

Beginning in the 15th century, Father Christmas was associated with joy, revelry, singing and drinking at Christmastime. He commonly appeared as a character in folk plays, also known as mummers plays. His legends were later merged with those of Saint Nicholas of Myra, who was known for his travels and generosity, and is sometimes considered the patron saint of children. By the 1800s, the earliest depictions of Santa Claus as we know him today began appearing in poems and magazine articles. In modern times he is known by many names and is beloved by children all around the world. 

Tea to Try: Comfort and Joy Black Tea A true holiday classic, this premium black tea features traditional mulling spices and ingredients such as cinnamon, cloves, apples and licorice root. 

Searching for more seasonal tea inspiration? Read this next: Best Christmas Gifts for Tea Lovers.

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Stress Less WinterMint Tea $13.25
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Cinnamon Plum $10.50
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Tea of Good Tidings full leaf tea - Limited Edition $13.25
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Tea of Inquiry full leaf tea $14.75
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Comfort and Joy Black Tea Bags $13.25
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