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Wintergreen tea pick

18 Jan

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We are having a January thaw right now, much of the  accumulated snow has melted this week, though in most of the surrounding forest there is still plenty of snow except for areas like this one where some jack pine trees have been recently cut and the forest floor close to the stumps are snow free and Wintergreen leaves are now visibly available to those who may choose to partake in gathering some fresh leaves for tea.

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Here is a closer look at the Teaberry plant aka wintergreen, (Gaultheria procumbens) its small round red leaves are noticeable on the south-side of the stump. Now the majority of the wintergreen leaves in these woods where the trees are still standing has (green) leaves beneath the snow, though in open areas like this the leaves are often red which makes for a pink colored tea of good flavour.

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Marguerit is also here today to join in the gathering of these small leaves with a big taste. I mentioned earlier on in a post in November the flavour of wintergreen doesn’t reveal itself right away, you need a little patience as it takes a couple days of fermentation for the flavour to fully appear. I use a few handfuls of cleaned leaves placed in a jar add a litre of boiling spring water and close the lid for 2 days. After I may drink the strained tea cold or reheated, the leaves from the ferment can be used a second time by just steeping them again with newly boiled water or they can be dried and packaged for later use. cheers

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

Movember mushrooms

15 Nov

I’m not associated with the Movember campaign but it is drawing a lot of attention towards men’s health this month and tonight I would like to draw a little attention to some wild mushroom which may make a big difference in men’s and women’s health now and in the future.

I didn’t need to convince my young friend to dress up to help bring a little Movember awareness with a loud and wild oyster mushroom moustache and cap as he has already seen some things on TV concerning Movember moustaches and men’s health. Here tonight I am focusing on a few of my favorite wild mushrooms I use as food, teas and spices on a regular bases and are safe and powerful medicinals as well. These mushrooms are well worth doing a little internet research on.

Turkey tail

Interestingly enough some of the best medicinal mushrooms for good  prostate health happen to be growing wild in temperature regions in much of the northern hemisphere during November. Including –wild oyster mushroom, turkey tail, velvet foot and chaga.

velvet foot

Chaga for all round good mental and physical health.

Hen of the woods (maitake), another medicinal all-star which usually appears in September under oak trees.

There are plenty of other healthy local wild foods as well, enjoy the best nature so willingly gives itself. These are good, I’m not eating these just for my health you know. ciao

Forest refreshment

30 Aug

I explored a few acres of forest tonight which has been drawing my attention recently as it is on my daily drive and is a bit difficult to get to but the journey is only  challenging for a minute. Once in the forest I was a bit surprised to see very little understory plants or moss or mushrooms, but then one of my favorite forest refreshments appeared in a few spots where some small chunks of cut tree limbs have been covered by moss for I suspect many decades and the cloverlike, Oxalis acetosella, Wood sorrel was growing from the richness of the decomposing  wood beneath.

Wood sorrel taste lemony, a nice nibble and thirst quencher and the heart-shaped leaflets are interesting looking, the white flowers with reddish veins appear in May so they are long gone now. I kind of forgot about this little plant as this is the first time I noticed and had a taste this year. Most folks who get a chance to try Wood sorrel are pleasantly surprised with its fresh taste which to my liking is the best of the many varieties of sorrel available in the wild or even garden sorrel really. It is recommended in many books on wild edible plants that Wood sorrel  should be eaten in moderation due to it containing Oxalic acid as does cranberries as well. Most continents of the world have a variety or 2 of Oxalis plants which have been enjoyed by the folks of those lands from day one I suspect.  Some folks even  on this very day made Wood sorrel into a pleasant ice tea. cheers for now

Wild thyme time

19 Jul

I noticed some flowering wild thyme made up a good portion of a lawn at a property in an industrial park and happened to know of an area a few minutes away where I  could gather some clean ones along the edge of a field of bedstraw.

It appears to be wild blueberry time as well, so I enjoyed a nice taste of them while collecting the wild thyme. I may try some wild thyme honey this year. ciao

Lost brook cave

10 Jun

This was my first trip to the Lost brook valley which features some gypsum and limestone caves where many thousands of bats hibernate for the winter, unfortunately some campers a few miles from the caves mentioned possibly all the bats died inside the different caves this year due to the white-nose fungus. So I followed a path as the campers directed and took a few photos near one of the caves. When I returned home I checked for info on the white-nose fungus and the campers were quite accurate in their figures as researchers did say 100% death rate in the caves was their estimate, normally around 6,000 bats enter the caves and the fungus was initially detected in this area 2 years ago.

This area has some plants species which are rare south of the arctic though today I will just show a few common ones to most rivers of the maritime provinces in Canada.

The second year stage of evening primrose, (Oenothera biennis), a fine medicinal and edible plant. This healthy one in the photo could easily reach 7 feet high near the end of summer.

I have not gathered or used this plant before, Purple avens (Geum rivale) though I may try it this year as its roots when boiled are supposed to have a flavor similar to hot chocolate once sugar and milk are added.

The light green leaves in the center of the picture are Orpine (Sedum telephium) which soon I will do a whole post on, as this plant I suspect will be of interest to some of you.

Good old Yellow goatsbeard, has these petals hauled in like a rain hat, I must admit I could have made good use of one today as well. rain for now

Urtication, hands become comfortably numb

25 May

The nettles have the knotweed surrounded, luckily the nettles are my primary reason for my foraging visit to this area which was a small farm back in the early 1950s.

Yes running approximately 15 feet out from this large patch of japanese knotweed is a healthy stand of stinging nettles which I’ve been gathering from each spring for around 30 years. The stinging nettle I will gather today should last me for a year, as I will dry them and use the majority in tea.

These 2 baskets took an hour to collect as I prefer to gather using scissors and bare hands accepting a few stings which I find somewhat pleasant and the gathering is more of a dance with them. The plants in my home garden came from seeds from these grounds where there are always a large number of water fowl, hawks, ravens and many other birds and creatures which move in close if you are relaxed and moving with gentleness as this is a very narrow valley which drops into a huge freshwater marsh and then a salt marsh before the waters of the Bay of Fundy.

I was too entraced with the stinging nettles to retrieve to my camera to take any bird photos but this little flying friend touched down long enough for a pic, this is a commonly found red admiral butterfly.

Back on the ridge, last look out into the marsh for today. If you are a stinging nettle tea drinker, you may enjoy trying  Christine’s these light footsteps nettle tea recipe which is very good cold and probably hot as well though I haven’t tried it that way yet. Check it out. ciao

Chaga mushroom appears good to me

16 Jan

Chaga mushroom tea (Inonotus obliquus) is a welcomed visitor on the ever shifting river me, as it trickles and meanders through the various passages attracted to the most acidic particles on the shores and in the murkier pools diligently driven into various always present new forms. I’ve never found info on the complete life cycle of chaga, it can’t be grown commercially, the fertile assumed spore producing stage is a mystery. The mycelium appears in a variety of different tree trunks and the (sterile conk) known as  the chaga mushroom normally is seen on wounds on the trunk, the best medicinal properties are alleged to come from chagas growing on birch trees, I gather them from only (paper and yellow birches) which are still alive enough to produce leaves during the growing season and usually collect my chaga for the year during the coldest days of winter.

The mycelium which produce chaga will at the same time be shortening the life cycle of the tree it inhabits, so in the illusion — one things disease is another things cure.  I’ve been drinking chaga tea for a few years now and have to spread the word on this, though please harvest this respectfully.  I usually drink 4 or 5 cups per week and harvest approximately 10 lbs per year, this is plenty for myself and a few others I share with. I usually during the summer months while gathering other gifts choose a tree or 2 to revisit later on. In the colder northern areas this is one of the few items we can gather at this time of the year, as shown in one of the pictures in the (chaga page),  we have a little bit of snow mostly in Jan and Feb plus today we had a wind chill factor of -28 degrees, I’m not going to go into all the details on the medicinal properties here, I will list below words to search under if you are interested in learning more. Oh I believe the FDA has it listed as safe as a food or food coloring though I didn’t look this up recently, so check for yourself. It has been used as a table tea in areas of Siberia for century’s. It taste pretty good though I usually mix in a few other herbs and fruits, once prepared you can drink it hot or cold. I also boil rice in the tea occasionally. There are numerous whys to prepare the tea, I’ve tried many but today go with the easiest methods which produce great results, so keep it simple. (Click on enlarge the pics in the chaga page next to the image page above right for some close-ups on some of the different shapes of chage) They can range from 1/4 to 10 lbs. If you have any questions, enter a comment, I may have some info specific to your interest.

SEARCH LIST  Chaga mushroom medicinal properties, ORAC rating, betulinac acid, anti oxidants, chemotherapy, adaptogen, detoxification, healing wounds, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, blood pressure, skin care.