I had planned a very different post for today, but days of virus-induced fever, sore throat and general “feeling crappiness” had me reaching for my secret weapon, a linden tea blend I bought at a street market in Turkey years ago. I know what you’re thinking, but this is no “I-can-buy-that-at-the-grocery-store” kind of thing, so we’re going to play a round of “Do you know me?”
Most importantly, this tea isn’t all ground up and wrapped in porous, bleached paper that you can dunk in a cup and nuke in the microwave. At the market in Southeast Turkey where I bought it, row after row of open barrels displayed what seemed to me all the herbs and spices in the world. You could buy the individual ingredients for this tea or you could buy it already blended. After trying it once, I went back and stocked up. The problem is that now, 12 years later, my stash is running low and that street market isn’t exactly around the corner anymore. I’ve searched and searched, but can’t find this blend available anywhere, not even online. That’s the “super-secret” part of it. I’m almost resigned to the fact that I’m going to have to collect the raw ingredients and blend it myself.
So what is it? I’m only half-kidding when I call it magic because it has worked like a charm every time I’ve had a cold or the flu. A Turkish friend told me that it had been a well-known remedy for generations at least and gave me the Turkish-language names of the ingredients all those years ago. Unfortunately, I only wrote down the English name of the blend (just plain old “linden tea”). It supposedly consists of linden flowers, dog rose (though I’m not sure if that’s the flowers or the hips), sage, hollyhock, cinnamon bark, cloves, licorice root, daisies and wild chicory root. Some of those ingredients are easily identifiable and some aren’t. Frankly, I don’t see anything in it that looks like licorice root or cloves, and I don’t remember if perhaps they were in there and I used them all. So part of my motivation for writing this post is the selfish hope that someone out there will recognize the blend and tell me where I can find it, what the real Turkish name is or where I can get some of the harder-to-find ingredients like dog rose and hollyhock. Here’s a picture:
To make it, you fill a pot with water, put in two big handfuls of the dried blend, bring it to a simmer and let it steep just like any other tea. Then you can ladle it through a strainer and drink. It tastes great on its own, fruity and cinnamon-y, but I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt to add a little honey or sugar. It makes about a gallon, so I keep jars ready to pour it into so I can have a supply for the entire time I’m sick.
Before I get to why it works, let me describe what it does. Today I drank about three cups while I was researching it. My previously dry, raw throat now feels properly moist and any lingering pain is the “in-the-process-of-healing” variety. I was starting to cough last night, but haven’t once in the last several hours and my sinuses, which were starting to get congested, feel clear. I am a little sleepy, and I’ve noticed that the sicker I am, the sleepier I get after drinking the tea.
Aside from the selfish motive of wanting to find more of it, I’m also just really interested, as The Organic Adventurer, in natural remedies. Maybe it was being around a Grandma who always kept aloe around for cuts and told us to drink ginger ale for upset tummies among other “grandma fixes,” but I think it’s incredibly interesting to pay attention to what nature can do, especially in our pill-popping age. After researching the uses of the tea ingredients in herbal medicine, it makes perfect sense that this tea should be so effective with the flu and colds:
Linden– induces low-grade fever to aide the body in fighting infection; expectorant; relieves throat irritation and nasal congestion; has a sedative effect
Dog rose – vitamin C…’nuff said.
Sage – antiseptic; fever reducer; decongestant; antioxidant; antimicrobial
Hollyhock – fever reliever; expectorant
Cinnamon – antibacterial; antifungal
Cloves – analgesic; antiseptic
Licorice root – anti-inflammatory; expectorant; cough suppressant
Daisy – expectorant; astringent
Wild chicory – anti-inflammatory; hepato (liver) protectant; deacidifier
It actually seems like a little bit of overkill to have all of those ingredients in there, some of which seem to do the same thing, but perhaps it’s the way they work together that makes it so effective. Either way, there’s no telling how long this tea has been used in such an ancient culture as that of Turkey, and there’s a very good reason for that—it works.
If you’ve ever heard of this tea, know a good source of all manner of herbs and spices, or just have a good home or herbal remedy story to share, I hope you’ll comment!
P.S. I am not a professional herbalist, and this post was in no way, shape or form intended to be medical advice. Most herbs, spices, barks and flowers used for herbal remedies can have serious side effects if used incorrectly. As with any medicine, one should always be very cautious and educated when it comes to herbal remedies.