Monastic Tea Garden – Beebalm
Beebalm arrived in our tea garden almost by accident! At the end of spring 2014, a local nursery invited us to come pick out whatever flowers and plants we wanted, free of charge, (God bless them!) and one of the larger flowers that was selected was something called a “Fireball” plant. During the van-ride home, we discovered that its leaves were very fragrant…like an herb…and we were curious. It turned out to be beebalm, also known as wild bergamot or Oswego tea! Native to North America, it has been brewed for pleasure and for medicine for many centuries.
The dried leaves of beebalm make a powerfully aromatic and tasty tea. It is also medicinal and can help coughs, sore throats, nausea, and cramps. There are two times a year to make a large harvest: before the plant flowers, and right after it flowers. The books say that the two will result in two different tastes, but since our plants were in flower when they arrived, we haven’t had a chance to test it. We cut the stalks of two beebalm plants after they flowered this year and obtained one jar of beebalm tea. Its taste pairs well with mint, which is good, because most of the nuns find beebalm a little too spicy on its own.
Stay tuned for our next Monastic Tea Garden post which will feature making the perfect cup of tea.