Hi all. I hope you had a marvelous Thanksgiving.
Today, the Wickeds welcome guest Lauren Elliott, whose book Steeped in Secrets, first in her new Crystals & CuriosiTEAS Mystery series, will be published tomorrow!
Lauren is offering a hardcover copy of her book to one lucky commenter below.
Take it away, Lauren!
Love of All Things Irish
Hi, everyone! I would like to say a huge thank you to Barbara Ross and all the wonderful Wicked authors for inviting me to be a guest on their blog today. Many of you may know me through my Beyond the Page Bookstore Mystery series. However, today I would like to give you a glimpse into my latest work Steeped in Secrets, book one in my brand new Crystals & CuriosiTEAS Mystery series. I can’t begin to tell you how much fun it has been to create an entirely new fictional world filled with colorful characters stemming from my strong Irish roots and love of all things Irish—especially its history, folklore, and folk medicine.
It was through my research about folk medicine and ancient healing practices that the inspiration behind the Crystals & CuriosiTEAS series took hold. If you’re well versed in Irish history, you may already be familiar with the stories about what some called a real Irish witch named Biddy Early. Born 1778 in County Claire and known as the “wise woman of Clare,” Biddy Early came from a long line of healers and had been taught herbal cures by her mother, which had been passed down through the generations.
The term witch was often used by the church to explain the dealings of those who worked with elements they didn’t understand and feared. Today, most would agree that Biddy Early was a healer and a seer, a follower of the old ways. Biddy, along with others who followed the old ways, concocted cures and saught out natural remedies to create medicines by using a bounty of herbs, plants, seeds, berries, bark, roots, and flowers much like the native peoples in the Americas and other parts of the world had for millennia before the settlers came. Most of these so-called witches were just simple folk who had learned the ways of the natural world and used their gifts and talents to help ease other people’s ailments and troubles.
As time went on, Biddy started to make a name for herself as a highly sought after healer, who helped peasants with her mix of teas and potions. It’s reported that she spent her whole life gathering and experimenting with herbal cures and tea blends and at some point acquired a magical blue bottle that became as famous as she was. She would frequently look into the bottle, which contained some sort of dark liquid, and it gave her the answers she required when considering possible cures or treatments or allowed her to see into the future. It was widely believed at the time that the fairies, with whom she regularly communicated, had given the bottle to her. When she died, the bottle disappeared, and it was said that the fairies had come to reclaim it.
It was the stories about Biddy, her cures, teas, and the blue bottle that was rumored to induce her second sight abilities that inspired the contemporary character of Shayleigh Myers or Shay, as her friends and family call her. Even with her life in ruins in New Mexico, Shay feels uneasy about settling into the small seaside town where she grew up on California’s Monterey Peninsula and taking over an estate bequeathed to her by Bridget Early, a woman she had barely known. Her heightened senses—an empathic gift she’s had since childhood—go into overdrive upon touring Crystals & CuriosiTEAS, Bridget’s eclectic tea and psychic shop brimming with Irish lore and Celtic symbols. Things reach a boiling point though when Shay looks up and discovers a stranger’s body sprawled across the shop’s greenhouse roof. To top things off, Shay also discovers that an expectation of her running the teashop is that she provides the services her benefactor had, which includes Tasseography—tea leaf reading, protective and healing stone treatments, and dispensing the various herbs and teas used in healing practices, something as a trained geologist she knows absolutely nothing about.
It is said that one of the reasons why Biddy Early was frequently referred to as “the wise woman of Clare” was because she was a woman ahead of her time. You see, until recently the medical profession dismissed and were suspicious of healing with plants and herbs. Now, those same folk medicine treatments that Biddy used are often recommended by doctors for ailments and herbal extracts, tinctures, oils, and teas can be found in pharmacies, markets, health-food stores, grocery stores, and can even be purchased online. There are numerous types of herbal teas all with their unique benefits, and with the help of journals left to Shay by her benefactor, she sets about learning the old ways of brewing various teas and learning the common ailments they were used to treat. A few of the teas Shay and Biddy might have used include:
Elderflower reduces mucus in the sinuses and lungs and also treats coughs, bronchitis, and asthma, and in treating winter colds, fevers, and the flu.
Can soothe an upset stomach and serve as a cure for constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, and motion sickness. It has also been proven to offer some pain relief from tension headaches and migraines.
Studies show that the leaves contain high doses of flavonoids, which are known for their powerful antioxidant activity.
Lavender is more than a sweet smelling flower and is perfect for treating anxiety, coughs, colds, stress, feelings of anxiety, and even insomnia.
Chamomile is one of the world’s most popular teas when it comes to calming the body, relieving stress and anxiety, and helps with insomnia. It also helps to reduce menstrual pain and muscle spasms.
One of the best sources of Vitamin C to be found, which is important for immune system support.
Green tea is often called “the wonder tea” as it helps lower the user’s risk of developing cancer and inhibits the carcinogenic effect found in processed foods and other toxins.
Commonly used for cooking, ginger root tea has been popular in Asian and European countries for many years. It is best known for its ability to stop nausea and vomiting but is also good for treating allergies, muscle aches, cramps, reducing fevers, and cleansing the colon.
Calms nerves, soothes nerve pain, strengthens the memory, and improves mood.
Can help improve blood pressure and circulation, boosts good cholesterol while lowering bad cholesterol, keeps hair strong and skin healthy, and provides relief from allergies.
Lowers blood pressure and fat levels, improves overall liver health, can starve off cravings for unhealthy sweets, and may prevent the formation of kidney stones.
Is an excellent detoxifying agent, promotes good sleep, and aids with anxiety and depression.
Readers: Tell us, have you ever drunk tea for its medicinal properties, or do you drink tea purely for the sense of relaxation and well-being a nice “cuppa” brings with it? One comment will be randomly selected on November 30, 2022 to win a signed hardcover copy of Steeped in Secrets.
About Steeped in Secrets
Flat broke and divorced, intuitive gemologist Shay Myers has changed since leaving her artsy hometown of coastal Bray Harbor sixteen years ago. But when she moves back under strange circumstances, old instincts may be the only key to spilling the tea on a deadly mystery.
Even with her life in ruins in New Mexico, Shay feels uneasy about settling into the small seaside town where she grew up on California’s Monterey Peninsula and taking over an estate bequeathed to her by Bridget Early, a woman she had barely known. Her heightened senses—an empathic gift she’s had since childhood—go into overdrive upon touring Crystals & CuriosiTEAS, Bridget’s eclectic tea and psychic shop brimming with Irish lore and Celtic symbols. They reach a boiling point when Shay looks up to discover a stranger’s body sprawled across the shop’s greenhouse roof . . .
With her new business a crime scene and questions brewing over Bridget’s so-called accidental death, Shay fears she’s also inherited the attention of a killer. The terrifying realization sets her on an impractical investigation for answers aided by her sister, an elusive pure-white German Shepherd, a strikingly handsome pub owner who speaks in a gentle brogue, and a misunderstood young woman with perceptive talents of her own. As Shay struggles to figure out her true purpose in Bray Harbor and the powerful connection she has with the tea shop, she must trust her judgment above all else to identify a ruthless murderer and save herself from becoming victim number three.
About Lauren Elliott
Lauren Elliott is the USA Today bestselling author of the Shay Myers Tea Shop Mysteries and the Beyond the Page Bookstore Mystery Series. She grew up devouring Nancy Drew, graduated to Agatha Christie, and then began writing her own mysteries, as well as bringing her passion for storytelling to careers in professional theater and journalism. She can be found online at LaurenElliottAuthor.com.
Lauren Elliott – USA Today Bestselling Author
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