From Willow’s Basket: Elderberry Tea

Willow Goodhope has the gift of giving. She finds great pleasure in touching people’s lives with the gifts that God puts on her heart to give.

Her favorite resource for her gifts is the common elder, also known as the black elder, the sambucus nigra. She considers the elderberry to be the quintessential “Giving Tree,” and most of her gifts are home-made items in which she uses parts of the elderberry. (It is important to note that ONLY the berries and flowers of the sambucus nigra are edible. Many other sambucusĀ species are, in fact, poisonous. Know your herbs or buy your herbs from a reputable source, such as Mountain Rose Herbs, one of mine and Willow’s favorite online resources.)

Elderberry Croft, Willow Goodhope's Basket of Gifts

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In the first episode of my new serial, Elderberry Croft, Part 1: January Breeze, Willow gives her neighbor, Kathy, an elderberry twig basket filled with an assortment of homemade items, including her special elderberry tea.

Nestled in the folds of a currant-colored dish towel was a set of two oriental-style tea mugs with no handles. Inside one was a small honey bear squeeze bottle; in the other, two old fashioned tea balls on chains. A muslin drawstring bag was stuffed with something crinkly and lumpy, and a stitched-on label gave a description of the contents in pretty, scrolling handwriting.

Elder berries and flowers, ginger, and lemon zest
Add a dollop of honey – you’ll be sure to get some rest
Colds, coughs, fevers, and malaise
They’ll all flee and the flu will fly away

Elderberry tea is a tried and true cold and flu remedy that has been used for generations. Native to Africa, Europe, and Asia, it now grows, and is cultivated, in much of the United States. Renown for their antioxidant constituents, both elderberries and elder flowers boost immunity to flu viruses and help strengthen the respiratory system, and so are quite effective against colds, coughing, bronchitis, and influenza strains. They also contain substances that ease inflammation and pain, soothe headaches, and help settle the stomach, making them effective against irritable bowel symptoms. Besides all that, these berries and flowers taste good!

As with so many homeopathic treatments, there are many variations of this tea.

From Willow's Basket: Elderberry Tea

Willow Goodhope’s Elderberry Tea

1 Cup Dried Elderberries
1 Cup Dried Elder Flowers
2 TBSP Dried Ginger Root (not powder)
2 TBSP Dried Lemon Rind
2 Cinnamon Sticks broken into pieces (optional)

Place all ingredients in a glass bowl and mix gently with a wooden spoon, making sure all ingredients are evenly dispersed. LABEL (very important!) and store in a sealed paper bag in a cool place up to one year, depending on how fresh your ingredients are. If you store this in a clear jar or plastic bag, make sure you use your tea within three to four months to ensure effectiveness. This recipe will make approximately 25-30 cups of hot tea.

To Brew:

Stir ingredients first, then put 1/2 cup of the herbal tea mix in a thermos, or in a tea diffuser if available. Pour 4-5 cups of boiling water over the top of the herbal tea mix and let it steep for 15 to 20 minutes. Strain, add HONEY to taste, and drink. If you prefer to steep your tea in a pan on the stove-top, keep your burner on simmer for 15 minutes. Makes approximately 4 – 5 cups of tea.


Willow prefers fresh ingredients and uses them whenever they are available, especially ginger root and lemon rind. She also likes to use her cinnamon stick as a stirrer, rather than breaking it into the tea blend. Just remember; sometimes using fresh ingredients will require you to adjust your measurements. As long as your essential ingredients are included, let your taste buds help determine how you drink your tea.

Do you have a favorite home remedy for cold and flu season?