Bittersweet: Bitter Herbs, Honey & HealthMay 25th, 2020
The recent dry, warm weather has seen the gardens burst into colour and our hardworking pollinators can be seen taking a well-deserved drink from our many water features. Clever bees always know how to find the best drinking spots, which got us wondering what else we could learn from our garden friends…
Our Head Beekeeper Paula Carnell is an expert in bee behaviour, with a particular interest in the beneficial relationship between bees and humans. Having recently harvested our first batch of rich estate honey (available exclusively from our Farm Shop in limited supply) she explains how herbs and honey play an important role in our health:
“Herbs have been used for thousands of years to maintain good health, and bees appear to be aware of their medicinal properties, using them to make a variety of nutritious honeys. Medicinal herbalism is complex, but certain herbs are known to have specific benefits for our bodies, whether inhaled or brewed in natural teas.
It has often been said that the nastier the taste, the better the medicine. The complex flavours of bitter herbs and how they support a wide range of functions are a perfect example of this.
Bitterness on the tongue will stimulate, via the brain, secretions and activity of the oesophagus, stomach, gall bladder and the production of insulin from the pancreas – all essential processes for our digestive system, which has a wider impact on our long-term health.
As we have moved towards a sweeter palate, these bitter tastes have often been lost in our regular diet. But they are so good for us and, when paired with honey – a natural source of antioxidants – it becomes a little easier to make the medicine go down.”
Pocket Guide: Bitter Herbs to Brew
Dandelion – Bitter leaves stimulate the digestive system, helping to flush out toxins
Lovage – A natural diuretic containing eucalyptol, which may help to reduce lung irritation.
Cleaver – Cleanses the liver and kidneys; pick the leaves now, before they start to flower.
Rosemary – Stimulates our immune system and circulatory system, helping our blood health.
Nettle – A natural antihistamine that reduces inflammation, helping with allergens and hay fever.
Thyme – Full of antibacterial, antiseptic and antimicrobial properties, supporting the entire body.
To make your tea:
- Add fresh leaves and 1/2 tsp honey (optional) to a teapot
- Pour in boiling water
- Leave to seep for 2-3 mins
- Put your feet up and enjoy!
Psst! Get your bitter fix with Babylonstoren’s bittersweet sparkling aperitif, which bottles the unique flavours of their garden. Zesty blood orange and grapefruit combine with honeybush, rosemary and 24 herbal botanicals. Back in stock now, available from our Farm Shop and online shop.