Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Wild Birch 'Tea'

Sweet Birch 'Tea' (Betula lenta) is a light pleasant summer time or any time drink. It has a sweet old fashioned wintergreen chewing gum flavor. You can use red birch (pictured here) which will make a pale red colored beverage or you can use white birch (Betula papyrifera). They both have the same flavor. Simmer* covered a small handful of the twigs in 2 quarts of water for about 25 minutes or to desired strength. Add 3/4 C of sugar (or less). Tasty hot or iced.

Birch trees have a long history of use in the US. The Native Americans used the bark of the white birch to make tee pees and also to make canoes. The flavorful bark provided toothbrush and mouthwash all in one! The sweet birch was the original source of wintergreen flavor and one of the many ingredients in root beer.

* Whenever you make tea with barks, roots, mushrooms or even seeds it is a boiled or simmered decoction and not a steeped infusion. So it is important to keep the water moving by simmering. Some mushrooms need simmered for a really long period of time so we will do that in the crock pot. Infusions are made with the leaves and flowers of the herbs.

1 comment:

Marilyn said...

I guess if I get lots in the woods I will need to find birch trees, then I can have tea and build myself a teepee for shelter, and still be able to brush my teeth. Good thing to know. Perfect boy scout lesson.