Saturday, January 22, 2011

Cup of Labrador Tea

In mid-January a cup of tea in the woods is lovely and peaceful.  If you have ventured into the woods of Newfoundland and Labrador more than likely you have walked over or through Labrador Tea. It grows in a variety of places, often near and within wooded, damp areas.  Labrador Tea grows to over a foot tall and is woody-stemmed.  It is commonly known as goowiddy: a name which refers to several like plants. The toxic Sheep Laurel often grows within a patch of Labrador Tea.  If you plan on harvesting make sure to identify one from the other.

Labrador Tea has green leaves with distinct characteristics. They are thick and and wrap around to the underside, protecting a furry orange interior. The leaves are barely more than an inch long. The stem is woody and will likely snap when you bend it too far.  The plant typically blooms in June with numerous white flowers.

How about Labrador Tea in your cup?  I've not sampled any but it has been a drink for many over the years; it has a fir or jasmine taste.  Labrador Tea is said to have sedative effects and has been marketed in other parts of Canada as a natural healing product. The fresh shoots reportedly have a better taste than older leaves. However, the product should be only consumed in moderation. The plant's toxins will cause headaches, cramps and intestinal problems if used routinely.


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