On Bergamot and Blackberry Leaf

Thank you Wikipedia for reminding us that these informative, pleasure-giving engravings are our COMMON heritage, ie, in the Commons!)

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This morning on the radio: not enough talk about the IPCC report, Boo Hiss!  Climate and how we are going to shift the destructive ways of society is the most important topic there is!

But good anyway: mention of a new study linking the Bergamot in Earl Grey Tea with effective reductions in heart disease.  I do love Earl Gray, so feel encouraged to indulge.  Read here about all the goodness in Bergamot extract.

A few questions arose–

Do we consider that these studies took place at universities in the regions of Italy that grow the most of these citrus fruits, thus maybe the researchers are not scientifically neutral, or maybe they are, and it’s all ok?

Do we wonder about the life and conditions of the people working on these farms in Italy, much as years ago the Body Shop  tried to promote community / Fair Trade for the bergamot in their cosmetics?    I remember there being an expose of workers in Haiti who picked the oranges for Grand Marnier— is the citrus industry universally brutal?

So many varieties of citrus, and our knowledge of them is really so limited:  are citrus varieties going the way of homogeneity like so much else in the world food supply managed by agribusiness?

And could I grow Bergamot here in mid-altitude, mid-latitude Wales?  Not really.  Turns out the wonderful Monarda, aka Bee Balm, aka Bergamot, is something completely different even if the smell of the flowers is reminiscent.  But I think someday I’ll try to grow it anyway, for all its own wonders and charms.

Ah, I wish I had a nice cuppa Earl Grey with which ponder and research these issues…

In the meantime, I was reminded of a successful experiment last year, making what I saw referred to as Iron Age Earl Grey? Or was it Stone Age Earl Grey? Or….  Ancient Land of the Celts Earl Grey?  You get the picture.

Brambles are everywhere, and the leaves are nutritious and useful from a herbal point of view.  (And for the tannins, they are great stuck in a fermentation of vegetables to aid in keeping the crunch!)  Here’s another concise description — “Blackberry and Raspberry Plants in Herbal Medicine.”

So when you are out foraging, in byways and fields or a suburban back garden, and  if you find yourself this spring digging the aggressive vines and suckers that shall indeed inherit the earth (not the meek!)– pick the lovely young leaves off the blackberry stems and let them dry inside.    Beat them a little– crumple, rumple, wear them down….  Then let them live in a moist tea towel for a few days, ferment a little, then dry them out again, for use and for storage.  They will have the most lovely perfume, comparable to the bergamot in Earl Grey, and a slight, enjoyable bitterness in the health-giving, foraged tea you make with them.

 

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