Labrador Tea

While on the AMS Great Alberta mushroom foray near Hinton, we came across some large patches of Labrador tea.

Some Labrador tea, sharing a basket with yellow suillus mushrooms

Labrador tea is a little evergreen shrub.  It was once commonly brewed by the natives and used in countless medicinal applications.  It was also part of some of the traditional gruit mixtures of northern Europe.  (For an explanation of gruit, and why it could be important to our provincial brewing identity, please see Alberta Beer: A Thought Experiment.)

The principle flavour is minty evergreen.  I swear when I bruise the fresh leaves I also get a sweet melon aroma, but I haven’t been able to convince others of this, nor have I been able to coax that flavour into solution.  Labrador tea can be used much like young evergreen buds, in tea, syrups, and dry cures for meat.

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