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Elderberry Herbal Tea Recipe For The Winter Season

Elderberry herbal tea has been capturing my attention with its magic this winter. The Elder tree is a wise soul and is considered one of the greatest plant teachers. It is a great plant for all to form a relationship with—especially those just beginning a plant journey.

The berries are one of my favorite things to add to herbal blends. The power of its magic can really be felt in a herbal tea like the ancestral dreams tea in the Wild Dreamer Farmacy. This blend contains the dried berries, and other dream herbs like mugwort, blue lotus, and passionflower. I have used it to connect with my ancestral Celtic and European roots. I can feel their presence when I use this plant, as many did before me.

Relating the Elder tree to the five elements and Taoist medicine made me realize its strong connection to the metal and water elements. Helping us overcome sickness caused by emotions like grief, sadness, and fear. Which accumulates in the lungs and obstructs the functions of the kidneys. Elder helps promote harmony and vitality within the waterways of the body.

Elderberry Historical Uses

The oldest record referring to the Elder is written by Hippocrates and is called “The Medicine Chest” because it can heal many ailments. The word Elder is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word Aeld, which means fire. Elder trees have a lifespan of around 60 years. The flowers are used as a diaphoretic to induce sweating and as a diuretic to increase urine flow. It is also used for respiratory ailments and wound healing. The berry’s medicinal properties help treat constipation and diarrhea and increase urine flow. They are used as a tonic for coughs, colds, flu, respiratory/kidney ailments, toothaches, joint pain, and menstrual complaints. 

Elder folk medicine was used for magical protection against serious diseases like the Black Plague. The seeds of elderberries have been found in archeological sights that date back to the Stone and Bronze Age. Ancient Egyptians used flowers to beautify the skin and heal burns. The Druids considered the Elder tree one of their most sacred trees, representing death, birth, and regeneration. It had a magical connection to the fairy world and a gateway to the underworld. Even say it connected you to the Queen of the Fae.

In Scandinavia, they named the spirit that inhabits the Elder trees Hildermore, who embodies the mother archetype—instilling the importance of using the elder tree’s permission to harvest its many medicines and to create an offering for the tree. Respect the Elder tree as if it were your mother. The energy the tree embodies is protection. History says that the elders protected you from witches, but others believed witches gathered under the elders and even turned themselves into an elder tree. Protecting us from evil spirits. 

Benefits of Elderberry Tea – Sambucus nigra ~ Jie Gu Mu

Elderberries are commonly used for flu symptoms and immune support in the modern age. The berries are diuretic, diaphoretic, and antioxidant. It is mainly considered an immune system tonic for cold + flu season. Helping to relieve symptoms like headaches, sore throat, tonsillitis, bronchial, asthma, coughs, fever, and muscle aches. Also may help with TB, pneumonia, edema, urinary stones, arteriosclerosis, gum disease, coughs, fever, muscle aches, laryngitis, measles, smallpox, chickenpox, congestion, swollen Iymph, hay fever, UTIs, eye infections, viral infections + skin eruptions. In TCM, Elder is known for clearing heat, dispelling wind, resolving dampness, toning lungs, and expelling phlegm. Working within the lung, kidney, + bladder meridians. It also promotes urination, resolves swelling, and reduces inflammation.

Fresh elderberries must be carefully processed because they are considered toxic unless thoroughly cooked, and the seeds must be removed. The bark, roots, leaves, and seeds are all considered toxic as they contain traces of cyanide, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea. When preparing elderberry syrup for the cold season, the berries must be cooked thoroughly, and then the seeds are strained out. Many like to add maple syrup, raw honey, and warming spices to make it extra tasty. 

TCM Functions Of Elderberry

Elder is sweet, slightly bitter, cooling to neutral and drying. Known universally as a cure-all medicine. Which makes sense when it is said to clear heat, wind, and dampness. All conditions that persist with the worst of colds. Use elder berries to fight viral and bacterial infections. The medicine is also supportive of the natural fever process. Elder can be used as a tonic herb to maintain overall vitality. 

The flowers are used to help ease pain associated with rheumatism, sprains, muscle aches, and gastrointestinal complaints. A poultice or salve can be made from the flowers and used externally to tone and soften skin and heal wounds. Helping to push things up and out to the surface, dilating the capillaries close to the skin to release heat.

This refers to its Western use as a cooling diaphoretic to stimulate and tonify the nervous system.

Elderberry Planet- Venus

Venus is the archetype of beauty, also symbolically representing love and empathy. Elder is all about mature beauty that comes with age and wisdom. Beauty is found within the opposition, within the union of two forces, within the exquisite balance created by nature. Elder trees are the culmination of the balance of yin and yang. Their presence in nature and within our bodies is harmonious for those who behold it. The elder symbolizes strength, presence, and protection.

The medicine of the elder shows up in the forest first with the flower, demanding our presence. In late summer, with the black berries, The mature fruit is rich in bioflavonoids that offer us protection from winter ailments—giving us the gift of her medicine before the change of weather sets in—deeply nourishing and restoring our core immunity. Venus herbs specialize in the preservation of the body and spirit. Elders have spiritual energy that is powerful enough to strengthen the vitality of our spirit, so we have the strength to connect to ethereal dimensions. This plant has a long history of magic that is instantly felt when encountered.

Elderberry Elements: Metal and Water

Elder feels like a metal element plant. The umbel shape of white flowers symbolizes protection from the divine. The white color represents benevolence. In Taoist medicine, the color white represents the metal element associated with autumn and the lungs. Autumn is the time of letting go and grief as we lose the abundance of summer. The emotions associated with grief affect the lungs and energetically move inwards. Elder has a special affinity for the respiratory system by opening up and releasing emotions of sadness and allowing us to move forward with our grief. Elder teaches us how to embrace many perspectives and strengthens our connection to ourselves—offering us a gateway toward acceptance. 

The dark black elderberries then help to move us through the water season in the winter. Deepening our connection to the darker realms. Harmonizing our entire being and allowing us space to let go of what no longer serves us so we can cultivate our inner light. Foods that are a dark purple color, like elderberries, grapes, blackberries, and blueberries, all have flavonoids, polyphenols, and antioxidants that help us maintain vitality and boost our immunity during the winter season. It is best to have homemade elderberry syrup or tea on hand during the cooler months so you can take it as a immune system tonic to protect against colds and flus. 

Elderberry Winter Wellness Herbal Tea Recipe

If you want to explore the medicine of elderberry, first try it in the Ancestral Dreams tea. Or you can make this easy homemade elderberry tea recipe that I created for the winter season. This tea will support a healthy immune system and offers a sweet, spicy, cozy winter beverage. Drink a cup of elderberry tea when you have been around a lot of sick people or are starting to feel sick. This simple recipe can be made with dried or fresh berries. and with any spices that you have on hand. If you buy fresh oranges from the grocery store, let the peels dry and add a few small pieces to your tea for an extra boost of vitamin C. 

Elderberry Winter Wellness Recipe

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Drinks
Servings 2


  • 2 tsp of Dried Elderberries
  • 2 tsp of Orange Peel
  • 2 tsp Rose Hips
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon Chips
  • 1 tsp of whole cloves
  • 2 tsp of Hawthorn berries
  • 2 tsp of He Shou Wu
  • 3 tsp of Reishi
  • raw honey


  • Place the loose herbs in a fine mesh strainer or tea mug
  • Cover and let it steep for at least 15 minutes
  • Enjoy a hot cup of tea, ideally next to a roaring fire when the weather is too miserable to go out in.

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