One of my most delightful discoveries in learning to forage here in Alaska is Labrador Tea. Labrador Tea is a common beverage among the Athabascan and Inuit tribes of North America. The plant is widely associated with a variety of health benefits though there is no scientific proof. Regardless, the aromatic flavor of the tea is delicious and refreshing.
The evergreen shrub of Labrador tea is commonly found in Alaska and northern Canada. You can either find and collect the leaves on your own or purchase online. (If you want to try a mix this Labrador Tea blend from etsy sounds delicious!) If you choose to find it on your own and live in an area where it is available just be 100% sure 100% of the time that you know you have the right plant. There are look a likes out there!
Two key things to look for are the orangey fuzz on the underside of the leaf as well as an aromatic herbal scent when you crush the leaves, but always check with a local expert just to be sure before eating or drinking anything from the wild.
Like many plants this tea is considered safe to drink if harvested and prepared properly, but you should be aware that even plants within the same species will have widely varying amounts of toxins depending on where they are grown, when they are harvested and how they are prepared. You can read more about the potential side effects of too much here.
As with many aromatics limit the amount of time you boil the tea and also limit yourself to one cup a day. If you are pregnant, nursing, have any health concerns or chronic conditions you should talk to your doctor before eating or drinking anything from the wild.
How to make Labrador Tea
Time needed: 10 minutes.
- Gather the leaves.
You won’t need a ton. I use about 8-10 leaves per cup of water but it’s up to you based on how strong you would like your tea to be.
- Add any optional items.
We like to add in rose hips and/or crushed berries, but you can add in any number of fruits, herbs or teas.
- Crush the leaves.
Gently crush the leaves to release their aroma. I love the scent– it’s very herbal and fresh!
- Boil the leaves for not more than five minutes.
Because there are certain toxins in the plants and that toxicity varies depending on where and when you harvest it limiting the boil time will reduce the risk of releasing too many toxins. If your tea isn’t strong enough just use a few more leaves next time.
- Strain the leaves.
Remove the leaves from the water. Unless you added in additional items your tea will be clear or slightly tinged yellow/brown. Even if it still looks like water it’s done once it’s boiled five minutes.
- Add honey if desired.
Enjoy more about foraging in the north:
Don’t forget to add Nature Study to your homeschool: