DO IT YOURSELF HERBAL GARDEN FOR THE NEW YEAR
GUEST BLOG / By Aimee Farrell, T-Magazine, New York Times--For these uncertain times, a step-by-step guide to growing brew-friendly plants at home, and using them to make infusions that soothe and restore. The tea garden — a typically modest plot dedicated to the growing of herbs and flowers for steeping — has its roots in ancient herbalist traditions and helped lay the foundation for modern botany.
According to “The Gardener’s Companion to Medicinal Plants,” a 2016 guide to home remedies, the study of herbal medicine can be traced back 5,000 years, to the Sumerians of southern Mesopotamia, who listed the names of hundreds of plants — including fennel, mint, thyme, sage, myrtle and marjoram — on clay tablets that were later rediscovered in what is now Iraq.
Modern scholars believe that the Sumerians used what they grew in medicinal preparations such as tea infusions that were intended to treat ailments from toothache to inflammation. And in England, says Timothy d’Offay, a tea importer and the founder of Postcard Teas in London, tea gardens have their origins in the work of 17th-century apothecaries such as Nicholas Culpeper, a botanist and physician whose encyclopedia of herbs, “The English Physician,” has remained in print since it was first published in 1653.
“The apothecaries’ focus was on the use of herbs in healing,” explains d’Offay. “It was really the beginnings of modern medicine. We often think that drinking anything without caffeine is innocuous, but herbal tea has power.”
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