Dig In

Tea, a drink with jam & bread

By Patricia Bailey
Posted 3/31/19

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been enjoying my tea every morning. Heck, I’ve been enjoying my tea in the afternoon and right before bed too. I am delighted whenever I approach …

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Dig In

Tea, a drink with jam & bread

Posted

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been enjoying my tea every morning. Heck, I’ve been enjoying my tea in the afternoon and right before bed too. I am delighted whenever I approach the tea aisle of a brick & mortar store. Yes, I’m one of those who dislike shopping online. I get giddy when I see a blend of tea I’ve never heard of, or one that traveled from some exotic far away place. In each cup I can embark on a fabulous trip without the hassle of airports, ticket lines and lost baggage.

One of my favorites is Earl Grey. I love it with milk and a bit of honey. It’s the one that I never want to run out of. Why do I love Earl Grey so much? It’s the bergamot! The bergamot Citrus bergamia is from Calabria, Italy. This is where my family originated. My roots and bergamot roots emanate from the same land. Once I discovered the connection, it was no longer a wonder as to why I had such an affinity to this blend. Bergamot is an acquired taste. It is a cross between sweet lemons and limes. It is tart and bitter and mostly appreciated for its oil, which can be found in both perfumes and teas.

The other teas I enjoy drinking I am able to grow in my own backyard: chamomile, lavender & mint. These plants are easy to grow and can be used in teas when fresh as well as dried. Mint tea is wonderful for the digestion and is also easy to add into ice teas for a refreshing drink on a warm summer day. Mint is available in many varieties and is best grown in containers as it has a tendency to spread prolifically.

Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) is one to grow and will continue in your yard indefinitely. It’s easy, self sows, has pretty daisy like flowers and can be easily divided to share with friends. It has a spreading nature, but is not as aggressive as mint. You can trim it back when they get leggy and they’ll pop right back up with more flowers to enjoy. Chamomile tea aids in calming and restlessness so it’s perfect before bedtime. It is safe for children to enjoy as well.

Some other teas I’ve been enjoying come from the international sections of my grocery stores. I’ve enjoyed Euphorbia Tea, Linden, Dandelion Root and Jasmine each has their own distinct flavor and healing benefits.

There are plenty of Linden trees (Tilia Americana) on Aquidneck Island and you’ve probably found them to be a charming shade tree. Honeybees love these trees and for good reason. Their flowers produce some of the finest flavors for honey. Have you considered their flowers for tea? Brew a cup whenever you feel a cold coming on.

I recently discovered Euphorbia tea, which was alarming to me at first since the Euphorbia I’m most familiar with is the poinsettia I decorate my home with at Christmas time. I’m aware that the plants are only slightly toxic, but the idea of drinking a cup of tea from this genus gave me pause to consider the myth or hype. As it turns out there are many species in the Euphorbia genus, such as the poinsettia. The tea I recently purchased is from the Euphorbia hirta species. This species grows wild and is often considered a weed in India. The tea is an ancient Ayurvedic treatment that has an abundance of healing uses and should be enjoyed in moderation. It has an earthy taste that brings to mind walnuts.

I’m pleasantly surprised at the many plants, shrubs and trees that provide us such nourishing drinks. Whether it is their leaves, flowers or roots I’m grateful for so generously giving us just what we need.

I think I’ll enjoy another cup as I delve into my seed catalogs!

Patricia Bailey is a Community Outreach Horticulturist. Having a deep appreciation for the quality of life a good garden can bring to those in need, she spearheads school programs, mentors young people and provides local charities with fresh organic vegetables.

Patricia Bailey

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.