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Recent Tasting Notes
Organic Elder Flowers c/s grade ~ Sambucus Nigra (Bulgaria)
Dry: mustard seed, lemon zest, musk, sesame seed ~ trisket crackers!
Wet: floral, fennel, musky, mustard greens
Leaf: pale tan yellow fine chopped flowers with brown hints the color of fennel seed. Some stems and pale green, yellow branch material mingles in.
Cup: Rich lemony-yellow hued extraction with strong herbal fragrance hinting at chamomile and lemongrass. Surprisingly full bodied and juicy with flavors that are deep, resonate and distinct, boasting with citrus, grassy voices, rich with hints of grapefruit pith and chamomile-floral flavors and a drawn out finish of brash rye and barley. The flavor hangs at the front of the tongue and teases the throat and it is sour, sweet and spicy.
Directions: used 1 tbsp (2.5grams) of flowers to 8oz of 200 degree water and steeped for 5 minutes in a glass graduated pitcher.
Notes: I totally hem’d and haw’d trying to figure out the nature of the aroma, searching my memories for the link that lit up the minute I drew in the aroma and after much mental searching through my spice cabinet, it dawned on me “Trisket crackers”! Wow, what a random connection and one that leads me back to being 14 and working on a fishing boat in Alaska, where snacking was constant to stave off the cold, wet, windy conditions and we would plow through box after box of anything we could quickly devour for calories (and that would mean we wouldn’t have to go through the process of taking off all the bloody raingear to eat).
It’s a very complex cup and flavor profile and I was surprised and pleased by how it is powerful and invigorating, in a way not so common in herbal teas. The sea-saw of citrus, spice, and floral is dynamic and interesting. I can see why many companies mix this with verbena or lemon balm, mint, or Echinacea as they would all amplify and merge with each other.
There is also an immediate effect on the nasal passages, a feeling not unlike drawing in a spicy, woodsy scent that seems to penetrate the nose and makes me think of the woods in Ohio in the late summer and early autumn. You can also taste a hint of the dark fruit long after the cup is done and you can ‘find’ the berry in the ‘flower’, so to speak.
Organic Elderberry ~ Sambucus Nigra
Dry: Dark fruit, tree sap, blackberry pie
Wet: fruity, medicinal
Leaf: in this case small, wet-looking, dark blackish-brown berries, raisin-like in texture but about the size of a black peppercorn
Cup: A pale, purple hued liquor resembling diluted concord or blackberry juice. Fragrant cup, with fruity, sweet notes. The flavor starts somewhat flat with the liquor lying heavy against the back of the tongue and leaving a acai-blackberry flavor to roll against the back of the mouth and a finish that is gently sweet and somewhat medicinal.
Directions: Used 3g in 8oz of 200 degree water and steeped for 5 minutes in a glass carafe.
Notes: I was asked for a ‘elderberry tea’ and after a bit of searching for recipes, I mostly found tea bag concoctions that were full of various ingredients and often included a wealth of other herbals that I’m use were there to produce the ‘desired’ effect: a fruity, health fortifying concoction that is supposed to help with the following:
(Health Benefits of Elderberry)
Native American tribes have for centuries used elderberry tea as an herbal remedy to help ease joint and muscular pains. It is still a popular herbal medication today and can be used for ailments such as:
Fevers, particularly flu or other virus-based illnesses, can be eased by drinking elderberry herb tea. It can also help clear the airways, breaking down mucus and phlegm, which can aid ailments such as bronchitis and asthma.
The common cold can be overcome much more quickly with a dose of elderberry tea, and drinking it regularly can help stave off a cold altogether. Due to the airway-clearing properties contained within elderberry, it can also help with allergies such as hay fever. The tea has also been used to help speed up the recovery process for sufferers of chicken pox and measles.
Elderberry herb tea is a popular choice to relieve water retention, as it has slightly diuretic properties. It can also aid in the detoxification process of the liver and kidneys. With this in mind, it may help those who suffer from frequent bouts of urinary tract infections. Elderberry tea is also a mild laxative and so can help ease constipation and the bloating and flatulence that may accompany it.
Elderberry also has anti-inflammatory properties. It can help to ease the joint pain associated with arthritis and can be used as a wash for skin disorders such as eczema and boils. The fresh herb can be placed into bath water, rather like a large cup of tea, as a whole body soak to alleviate muscle aches and pains.
Elderberry is a well-known immune system booster, and regular consumption of the tea can help the body fight off such ailments as herpes. It is particularly popular with those who regularly suffer from cold sores. It is also thought to help lower cholesterol.
Elderberry herb tea has sedative properties and so can assist with stress relief, be used as an anti-anxiety supplement, or aid a restful sleep. It may also be helpful for people who suffer from insomnia if used on a regular basis. As a relaxant, it may also be beneficial for those who suffer from high blood pressure.
Elderberry is believed to have emetic properties, meaning it can induce vomiting. The raw and unripe fruit leaves and stems contain cyanide. Unless familiar with this herb, it is not recommended to pick fresh for making homemade teas.
Generally the ‘tea’ is made from the flowers of the Elderberry plant and there are some cautions about using ‘natural’ sources as the plant’s unripe fruit, leaves, and stems contain cyanide and can be toxic.I have also secured a supply of the leaves and will be cupping that as well to see if it has any future applications in blending.
On the whole, I was surprised by the ‘wet’ sticky nature of the berries and the aroma and flavor reminds me very much of an old natural foods store (before the popularity of whole foods when such shops were scattered in small communities) and the mingling of dominate scents that gave each of those places a smell of wood, exotic dried fruits/vegetables, and spice. There is also in its aroma a scent that reminds me of the first breath that one takes walking into a Penzeys spice shop and also of the woods in the early wet, spring transition from winter where there is a mingling of fresh earth, developing berries and flowers, and wet humus.
The berries hail from Croatia.