On a hot summer day, nothing is more refreshing than a cup of iced tea to help quench your thirst. And when the weather is not cooperating, a warm cup of tea will help to warm your spirits. There are many plants in Newfoundland which can be used to make teas.
Labrador tea (Rhododendron groenlandicum) is an evergreen shrub which grows to about 1 meter tall. The leaves are green on top with the margins of the leaves rolled under. The under side of leaves are covered in rusty coloured hairs. This plant is commonly found in boggy areas and the margins of ponds. To prepare the tea, boil water, remove from the heat, and steep leaves for 5 to 10 minutes. It is important to never boil the leaves as this releases toxins. This earthy flavoured tea is best served with honey and/or lemon.
Some rugosa roses have started blooming, and our native roses will be in bloom soon as well. Petals can be collected, and then used fresh or dried. Again, boil water, remove from heat, and steep. The petals can also be used to make jams, which taste great on ice cream, yoghurt, or cheese. Later on in the fall, hips can also be collected and used to make tea, or jams and jellies. It is important to remove the seeds and the hairs from the middle of the hips before use.
Sweet gale (Myrica gale) is another shrub commonly found along the edges of ponds. It gets 1 - 2 meters tall. The leaves are 2 – 5 cm long, and are oblonceolate, tapering at the base. The wider tips of the leaves have fine teeth. Leaves can be used fresh or dried. Again, it is best to steep the leaves in water which has just been boiled. Sweet gale tea is said to make dreams more lucid. Leaves and the little nutlets which can be collected in the fall are also great for use in soups like bay leaves and to flavour meats.
There are many other plants that can be collected for teas including clover flowers; mint leaves; dandelion roots, leaves, and flowers; stinging nettle leaves...
What have you tried?