Friday, November 12, 2010

Bush Tea Adventure


Most Americans down mugs and mugs of coffee everyday but I love tea. Technically, I don't drink the black tea leaves that are commonly considered tea but herbal infusions that are really a collection of herbs, flowers and spices. In the Caribbean, this is called bush tea and I always order a cup on whatever island I visit. There's just nothing like fresh bush tea. In St. Kitts, I ordered a pot at the Spice Mill restaurant and this earned me some surprised looks. Not because it was a hot, 90 degree Kitttitian afternoon but because few Americans know about the joys of bush tea and they didn't expect anyone to order it.  After much bustling and questioning, my waitress stepped outside the restaurant and plucked some lemongrass and thyme from the garden. You can see the tips of the plants in the photo above.



I savored the spicy smell when she brought the pot out and sipped on cups and cups for over an hour. Bush tea is typically drunk for medicinal purposes and lemongrass, also called fever grass, is usually prescribed for fevers and colds so that might be another reason I caught the puzzled looks. I wasn't sick but a good pot of bush tea definitely makes me happy. My happiness must have been palpable because when we prepared to leave, I was presented with a bunch of the fresh herbs to take home, pictured above. I was touched by the gesture but I explained that live produce is usually a no no when traveling from country to country. They insisted and I wasn't about to argue so I  took the herbs back to my hotel and packed them in a plastic bag, at the bottom of my suitcase.


When I was in the airport, sure enough, my suitcase was chosen to be inspected. I held my breath as the security attendant rummaged through my clothes. He pulled out my box of Off  insecticide towelettes. No liquids in that, I explained. He placed it back in my suitcase and closed it. And I flew out of St. Kitts with enough lemongrass to enjoy for months. I'm actually drinking a cup right now.

13 comments:

Dominique said...

I'm a big ice tea fan myself, but this does sound great.
Is Bush Tea always the same herbs, or does the mix differ each time?

Fly Girl said...

Dominique, bush tea is just a term for any herbal tea. It can be peppermint, ginger, Hibiscus or any number of local tropical herbs or flowers. It just depends what they have on hand, which was lemongrass in my case.

A Cuban In London said...

I've seen bush tea around and I thought it was just another label, so thanks a lot for that cultural lesson. I like mixing loads of herbs, too, in my tea, especially at night when I have a cuppa before going to bed. Peppermint, chamomile, gingko, ginger, ginseng, you name it, I've had it. :-)

Happy birthday to your husband! :-)

Greetings from London.

Fly Girl said...

Cubano,I like to have specific herbal blends like giner and lemon or vanilla and roibbus but it's all techinically bush tea. Happy Birthday to you too!

Mary R said...

I love tea too! In fact, I especially the kind that is made as you described it with herbs that you can recognize rather than tiny little shreds of green in a packet.

You've inspired me to make some tea myself right now.

eden said...

I always love tea and my favourite is the Chamomile Herbal Infusion. I have lemon grass in my garden because I love to use it in making soup especially fish soup. Love the smell of it.

Fly Girl said...

Mary R, it's always a good time to make tea!

Eden, I love the smell of lemongrass too as well as the taste. I like chamomile to help me relax and sleep at night. It's my daughter's favorite.

Rachel Cotterill said...

I love herbal infusions, so I'll have to remember to ask for bush tea if I'm ever in that part of the world! :)

Fly Girl said...

Rachel, herbal tea is what gets me through the day!

Steve said...

Hi there! Do you have any recommendations for the Dominican Republic?

Fly Girl said...

Hi Steve, it depends on what you'd like to do. Punta Cana is good for singles and lots of night life. For a slower pace and more family focused travel, I'd reccomend the Southern tip of the island in the La Romana, Bayahibe area. There are museums, a nature preserve and ecursions like horseback riding and concerts there. Please check out my posts under Dominican Republic for more details.

steve said...

Thanks so much for the Dom. Republic advice…I just returned from the Bavaro Princess in Punta Cana. Since time was short & I was with a group, I didn’t have time to venture much off the property. I must return to do more exploring and continue practicing mi espanol!

Spanish Hiking said...

I love herb tea too! I usually make my own, out of whatever I pick up during my hikes. Wild chamomile and mint is delicious and sooo relaxing before bedtime.