Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Herbal Teas of Chile

The last Sunday of April we visited the district of Lota, along with Hermano Seguel, who gave a presentation on Self-Reliance and The Perpetual Education Fund to a group of about sixty district and branch leaders. While the men were setting up the audio-visual presentation equipment, I amused myself by playing as many of the songs in the Himnos (Hymns) on the standard-issue piano-organ keyboard in the Lota chapel, trying the different piano and organ settings. I haven't played for over six months, and when I paused for a moment everyone asked me to start playing again.

We drove past Playa Blanca, the famous white beach of Lota, under cloudy skies.

The town of Lota, south of Coronel. A carbon (coal) mine under the ocean, with access near the beach, supplies work for local miners.

Our kind neighbor Madiyeh brought us these treats her family sent from Iran. The little filled pie was tasty, as was the Persian Fairy Floss in the middle of the plate, a variety of spun sugar that melts on the tongue. Spiced pistachios are always good, and the crystal rock candy on the lower left corner wasn't bad, either. The little rolled cake slices were full of walnuts and dates. Those are not Mexican wedding cakes in the upper right hand corner, however--it is Kashk, as Madiyeh explains it, plain fermented yogurt that is rolled in balls, and dried rock-hard. Kashk is not half as sour as the deceptively chocolate-looking slices, also made with fermented milk, which were mouth-puckeringly sour sour. It is best to eat them (if you can) with a rock candy chaser. She also brought us two paper cups with two different sorts of drink or soup you add hot water to - is it Tarhana, Persian fermented dried soup base? We haven't had the nerve to try them, just from the smell.

I have been stealing chinita--calendula seeds from other peoples' plants, and one of them finally took off and produced a bloom. I am not able to move the pot now, however, since the roots have gone down into the dirt of the container below.

My crochet and knitting patterns are scattered all over the apartment, so I crocheted this rectangular basket out of two strands of thick wool yarn to put them in, since I can't find anything remotely resembling a paper-size rectangular basket or box anywhere. You can get heavy upright cardboard archive holders which are about 5 inches wide and use the 2-hole punch, but I think this is more aesthetic.

And now to the teas of Chile. Since there is no fresh milk, and I do like herbal teas, and there are hotpots in every kitchen, I have become acquainted with the very large variety I find in every supermercado--whether in tea bags, or gathered in the wild and sold in sealed bags. Above is Tilo, Linden leaf, used for boosting the immune system, anxiety, and insomnia.  

Hierba de San Juan is used to treat inflammation and bruising in muscles; in overcoming depression, and cramping.

 Rose Hip Tea from the wild Dog Rose, is diuretic, laxative, and with its high Vitamin A content, helps with wounds, immune system, and skin disorders. Plus, it tastes good. 

Elder Kennington's favorite tea is two parts honey chamomile (manzanilla miel) and one part mint. He was driven to drink herbal tea because that is how you can warm yourself up in the morning. Chamomile tea, "the all around comforter," has a mild sedative effect and relieves stress. The Manzanilla Miel is the best tasting of all Chilean teas, in my opinion.

Mint tea is a great help with digestion, stomach ache (Hna. Rosita is always recommending it) and heartburn.

Matico, the orange ball Buddleja Globosa (not Piper Aduncum),one of the native plants of Chile, is antiseptic, and used for ulcers and stomach aches. 

Hierba Paico, Chenopodium Ambrosioides, now called Dysphania Ambrosioides, is carminative (less gas), anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic, fungicidal, for the urinary tract, and is a natural pesticide. It is the second worst-tasting tea, after Boldo.

Llanten, Plantago Major, a soothing herb, is used for bronchitis, cough, heartburn, and peptic ulcers. The tea bags are slimy when wet.

Eucalyptus is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, helps with respiratory problems, lowers blood sugar, and repels insects.

 Cedron, Lemon Verbena, helps ease stomach complaints, anxiety, digestive issues, and helps unblock nasal passages.

Toronjil, Melissa Officinalis (Do not plant this in your herb garden!!!) reduces stress and anxiety, digestion and cramps, is helpful with cold sores, respiratory difficulties, and insect bites.

Anise Seed tea, Pimpinella Anisum, is used for bloating, colic, heartburn, bronchitis, digestion, and sweetening the breath. It is one of the more pleasant tasting teas.

Bailahuen, Haplopappas Baylahuen, native to Chile, is useful for the bowels, genitourinary tract, and upper respiratory tract, as a help with diarrhea, antiseptic, stomach problems, and chronic hepatitis, among others.

Boldo, Peumus Boldus, native to Chile, is the most "medicinal" of all the teas, widely used, and what I usually drink when I start feeling sick. It is antimicrobial, antiseptic, diuretic, laxative, antiflatulent, and enhances digestion. It tastes like camphor and smells terrible.

Maqui, the Chilean native tree with dark red berries, is high in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and useful for arthritis, diabetes, and heart disease.

Natre, Solanum Ligustrinum, another South American native, is used for headaches, fevers, and is antiseptic.

Yerba Mate, Ilex Paraguiensis, is high in antioxidants, stimulant, aids digestion, helps protect against arteriosclerosis, and enhances physical endurance. I am not particularly fond of the flavor. It is usually bought in large bags of the dry crushed leaves, not in teabags, as above. Drinking mate is a way of life for many South Americans, and gourd, metal or ceramic mate cups and bombillas--metal straws with sieves--are shared among friends in a traditional afternoon "mateada." Young missionaries are not supposed to drink it while they are on their missions, I have been told.

You'd think from all these teas and their properties, that people the world over are looking for remedies for stomach aches and digestion. I don't know if drinking herbal teas daily has helped--I know eating lots of yogurt has, but I have avoided the problems I usually run into when I travel.

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