Gaultheria teas

17 Nov

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Teaberry (Gaultheria procumbens) is a very common plant under Jack Pine trees on dry sandy soil in my neck of the woods. The red berries are starting to get large and will be a nice cold weather treat from now until May any time they are visible as they may possibly be snow covered for a few weeks to 4 months, time will tell.

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Today I’m gathering a few berries but mostly the plant leaves for tea. Some folks prefer the red leaves which seem to grow in the drier sunnier areas.

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I’m also collecting some green Teaberry leaves from a shadier area to compare the 2 different colored leaves flavour.

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Ah, a wet spot in the Jack pines and here we see some green Teaberry leaves and below them is Moxie-plum (Gaultheria hispidula) which has tasty white berries during the summer and its wintergreen leaves may even make a better tea than teaberries. So I’m going to do some Gaultheria tea testing in the next few days.

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Moxie-plum (Gaultheria hispidula) usually grows in wet areas on or near old tree stumps and is rare compared to Teaberry in my area.DSC06530

Here we see a larger mature stem with many small round leaves this one is well over a foot long.

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I found a couple tea testers here at the house who will sample both the red and green Teaberry teas and also the Moxie-plum leaf tea in coming days as I must first ferment the leaves for a day or 2 before the tea tasting begins.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fk11Acjofu8

Gaultheria products are rarely made today though they were used many years ago. I suspect the Teaberry gum in the video was originally made with Teaberries in the early 1900s but by the time of the 1960’s video probably was made with more easily obtained ingredients, nevertheless the videos is kinda fun and the song was a popular instrumental when I was a lad. I will post the results of our (in-house tea tasting event) as an update in this post in a few days.

UPDATE Nov 19/2013

Both Gaultheria procumbens and Gaultheria hispidula leaves when fermented for 2 days make incredibly great teas. Gaultheria hispidula won the (in-house tea tasting event) by 2 votes to 1 as it was slightly more smooth though both were truly flavourful.

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Since Gaultheria procumbens is one of our most common forest plants I will choose it as the one I gather and ferment  frequently this winter. If you live where this plant is common, enjoy fresh air and walking in the woods and also have space for a few small mason jars to ferment for a day or 2, then you clearly owe this small investment of timely pleasure to yourself. This is one tasty medicinal tea. cheers

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4 Responses to “Gaultheria teas”

  1. The Novice Gardener November 17, 2013 at 11:18 pm #

    I bought this from the nursery last year, and planted it under my apple tree. Sadly it didn’t survive.

    • 1left November 18, 2013 at 12:16 am #

      In my area it grows at its best on our poorest soils under open forest of Jack Pines which were called the devil’s trees because pioneer farmers couldn’t get anything they wanted to grow in these dry very acidity soils. Here its common companions are lichens and other acid loving members of the heath family with the ph I would guess being in the high 3s to 4.5 in the rooting zone.

  2. nicolec November 18, 2013 at 10:49 am #

    I have it growing in the shade here; it’s a little far south and a little too warm for it otherwise. I can’t say it’s thriving, but it’s slowly growing. No berries this year, unfortunately. I think I have one berry last year.

    • 1left November 18, 2013 at 10:03 pm #

      I suspect Teaberry is a plant that rarely produces fruit throughout its range. Here in eastern New Brunswick over 90% of the plants do not produce fruit. Usually these plants grow on flat land and when the plant runs on to a bank of bare soil either near a woods road or stream it will then produce good amounts of fruit, otherwise in some of the large patches which may cover many acres on flat forest you are likely to walk around for an hour passing tons of mature plants only to gather a cup of berries. Luckily the leaves are good to go into the tea pot any time of year once your Teaberry patch has spread out enough. cheers

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