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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Why buy tea? Wild wood strawberry tea is everywhere

Wild wood strawberry © Photo Ken Korczak

Wild strawberry tea. How good does that sound? You don’t need a team of marketing consultants to come up with a name so pleasant and inviting for a tea.

Strawberries grow wild just about everywhere in Minnesota. In my northwest corner of the state, you practically can't take a step without encountering this stuff everywhere. Just take a stroll along any country road and you’ll see oodles of wild strawberry plants on the roadside and in the ditches, bearing pretty white flowers in early summer, and tiny red berries later on.

They’re also everywhere strewn across prairie lands, CRP, and in the woods growing among taller grasses. They look a lot like the strawberries grown by gardeners, so even an idiot like me had no trouble making a positive ID of this wild plant.

To be specific, this tea is brewed from the dried leaves of the wood strawberry rather than the berry itself. Lee Allen Peterson’s “A Field Guide to Edible Plants” directs that you boil the dried leaves of wood strawberries to make a very pleasant and mild tea. That’s what I did, and that’s what I got.

Don’t expect this tea to have a strawberry-like taste. Rather, when you boil the leaves, you get a very distinct tea-like flavor -- but this is a tea with almost a total lack of bitterness. I find wild wood strawberry tea to be exceedingly subtle. It’s not only mild, but seems to personify that quality. This tea does not have the welcome sweetness of pineapple weed or sweet goldenrod tea, it has a more tea-like flavor, with all the good things of a tea, without a bit of the bad -- no bitterness, no after taste. Just tea. Pure tea.

Wild strawberry tea is undemanding of the drinker. It gives without demanding. It puts one in the mood of acceptance, without resignation. It sends a soothing signal across the nerve endings, and gently washes the tension from an agitated mind.

Here is a tea that a group of friends can imbibe while having quiet conversation sitting in an summer gazebo on 78-degree day with low humidity and gentle winds. The sky would be blue and barn swallows would veer and dart through the air as the adlibbing humans sipped below.

If I wanted a rest for my mind, while also hoping to be inspired, I would choose this tea -- wild wood strawberry tea -- as my beverage of choice. It’s yet another amazing gift from the land, free and plentiful for everyone to simply pluck, brew and drink.

Ken Korczak is the author of: SECRETS OF A GRANT WRITER

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