Prized above rubies.

Here’s a fine winter brew I came up with a few months ago after reading two books in a row that mentioned drinking saffron as a tisane (Color: A Natural History of the Palette and Secrets of Saffron). My tastes are a bit outre so I wasn’t sure who else would like this blend, but taking some with me to Revels this past Yule drew rave reviews from at least ONE other person—hi Evelie! :)—so I’ll go ahead and post it.

Ruby Tea
1 tbsp rooibos (I use Twinings)
1 1/2 tbsp osmanthus blossoms
50 saffron threads (don’t panic! Read on…)

Bring 5 cups of water to boil; remove from heat. Blend rooibos, osmanthus and saffron, and steep for 3-5 minutes. Strain. Serves 5.

Seriously, this smells like the most Elysian of fields, tastes like the sweetest purest water, and looks like the richest depths of garnet. If you think it needs still more character, try adding to the teapot a tablespoon of dried lavender blossoms (for what I call “Sleeping Ruby”) or a dash of Saigon cinnamon and a smidgen of black pepper (“Star Ruby”).

A word on the ingredients:

Osmanthus may be hard to come by in stores. I first smelled it in a Black Phoenix Alchemy perfume, first tasted it at a cafe in Wellington NZ, and finally got my hands on the unadulterated dried blossoms through It comes packed in big pyramid teabags that make about two or three cups each; I just scissor them open and scoop it out. 🙂

And those of you who saw the word “saffron” and immediately thought “ZOMG I’M NOT SELLING MY FIRSTBORN!”, keep in mind: a little saffron goes a long way. According to, there are roughly 463 threads in 1 gram of saffron, which can be had for $7.95 from here, a supplier that came recommended from an author of one of the books above. Just use it up within a year of purchase (it’ll make about 46 cups of this tea!) and you won’t have wasted your money.

Hmm, I’m sure my original zine didn’t look nearly this shill-y, with all the links to places to buy. What can I say, I’m a cog in a machine. So long as I have tea, I’ll keep turning.



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