This Boricua Herbalist Swears By This Elderberry and Rosehip Tea For Cold Winter Days

Lara Pacheco
Celesté Macias
Celesté Macias

It's common cold and flu season but drinking an elderberry and rosehip herbal tea is a great way to boost your immune system, according to Taíno Boricua herbalist Lara Pacheco. Plants guided Pacheco to the path of uniting with the land and their ancestors, and as a result, they founded Seed and Thistle Apothecary, an educational resource to supports folks in reclaiming their ancestral traditions around plant medicine. They believe that anyone connected to the emotions of the body, land, plants, or animals understands the difference between each connection — no matter their background.

"I think everyone feels like something is missing. I think predominately white settlers, folks with predominate white European roots too, are awakening to that connection to the land. Colonialism has its roots with pulling people away from deep connection to the land in Europe and then it rippled. Latinx people tend to have more recent exposure to various traditions that venerate ancestors and ancestral practices," Pacheco said in an email with POPSUGAR. "We are working to honor them when we otherwise may have grown up being taught to disregard them or be embarrassed because of assimilating to whiteness."

Pacheco believes this reclamation is necessary to heal from the isolation that messages in capitalism and consumerism deliver as humanity works through today's battles with climate gentrification, political uprisings, and personal struggles. To them, collective liberation is accessed through decolonizing ourselves by weaving into the web of ancestral medicine.

What Is Elderberry and Rosehip Tea Good For?

Indigenous communities have been using the flowers, leaves, berries, and wood of elderberry for thousands of years to battle fever and rheumatism. Both elderberries and rosehips are full of antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties useful in soothing the body aches that come with a cold. Pacheco recommends keeping the traditional knowledge alive by asking your grandparents for their favorite remedies.

"Do what your abuela, or 'Tata' as we called her, said," Pacheco said. "Your DNA is made up of your ancestors and their experiences. We're all trying to navigate how to feel grounded and connected, and remembering what our ancestors endured is a part of reclaiming that strength. To be connected to entities outside of yourself can also feel really hard and sad sometimes, but the key is not being stuck, so relying on non-human entities and human ones can help us to move these emotions. We really can't do any of it alone."

Unsplash | Manki Kim

Elderberry and Rosehip Tea

Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Yield2 servings

Lara Pacheco


    • 1 cup elderberries
    • 1 tbsp. finely chopped dried rosehips
    • 1-3 cinnamon sticks
    • 4 slices fresh ginger
    • 1 tbsp. cardamom
    • 1/4 cup honey or more, to taste
    • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (optional)


    1. Add all ingredients except honey to 4 cups of water, then boil for 20-30 minutes.

    2. Once it cools, add honey to taste and drink.

    3. Store for a couple of days.

    4. Optional: Add 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar for added immune and digestive support.