UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds

Prairie tea

A taste of summer in a teacup

By Carolyn Pogue

Marie Saretsky is doing what women of a certain age have done for generations: she’s passing on what she has learned over a lifetime. I attended her tea workshop in Burr, Sask., last week and tasted 12 different hand-harvested teas. With each, I learned where the plant grows, when and how it’s harvested, its medicinal properties and what it looks, smells and feels like when dried.

“I enjoy tea,” Marie said, “and began wondering what grows here that I could harvest, brew and drink. Then the 100-mile diet became popular, and I was encouraged even more.” After years of experimentation, studying and asking questions, she felt ready to pass on what she’s learned.

Marie is known in the Prairies for her garden business, Flowers of Dellwood Creek. Summer bring busloads of people from Regina and Saskatoon to visit her garden. In the autumn, her dried flowers, herbal bath infusions and handmade paper are sold at craft sales and city shops. As farm children in Ontario, she and her brother, Jim, managed their own large garden. They earned spending money by selling produce to motorists on the nearby highway. Marie later became a registered nurse, but healing through gardening has been her life’s path.

The tea workshop was fun, interesting and useful. Gather women around a teapot, add homemade cookies and it will be a good time. I was surprised to learn about calendula, which I’ve grown for years. I didn’t know that the bright gold flowers I placed in vases could also go into homemade healing ointments, tea and salads. I next learned that flax seed tea will soothe and cleanse my urinary tract and that stinging nettle tea, sacred to the Saxons, builds energy. Plantain, another herb the Saxons called sacred, is good for the skin. Cree medicines include rose hip tea, which is good for many ailments including colds.

It was fun to share stories and to wonder aloud. Who, for example, called dandelions “weeds” and proclaimed them enemies? Dandelions, from leaves to roots, are blessings. English settlers brought them to Canada to grow in kitchen gardens for medicines, teas, salads and cooked greens. I loved the roasted dandelion root tea. During the Great Depression, it was a common coffee substitute.

We learned that hardy perennial peppermint plants grow well in pots or gardens. Peppermint, which gives two or three cuttings per season, is best harvested just before it flowers since that is when the leaves are richest in essential oils. A peppermint tea bag in a pot of steaming water can be inhaled to relieve congestion. It’s good for your liver, and will settle your stomach, relieve your body odour and aid digestion. All that and it’s delicious too.

During the workshop, I glanced out the window at the thick blanket of snow and relished my hot drink. It was Prairie summer in a teacup, passed on to a new generation.

Author's photo
Carolyn Pogue is a longtime Observer contributor. New posts of The Pogue Blog will appear on the first and third Thursday of the month. For more information on Carolyn Pogue, visit www.carolynpogue.ca..
Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!
Promotional Image

Editorials

David Wilson%

Observations

by David Wilson

If statues could talk

Promotional Image

Video

ObserverDocs: Stolen Mother

by Observer Staff

The daughter and adoptive mother of one of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women share their story

Promotional Image

Society

July 2017

From far and wide

by Various Writers

Meet 11 immigrants who are putting down new roots

World

June 2017

A suitcase for Cuba

by Christopher Levan

You’ll find more than giveaway toiletries and hand-me-downs in the writer's luggage. Each carefully chosen gift offers a glimpse into the lives of Cubans today.

Justice

June 2017

Undocumented

by Kristy Woudstra

Up to half a million people are living in Canada without official status. The ‘sanctuary city’ movement is growing, but the fear of deportation persists.

World

June 2017

Resisting genocide

by Sally Armstrong

In August 2014, ISIS attacked Iraq’s Yazidis, slaughtering thousands and forcing women and girls into sexual slavery. Today, the survivors are fighting for their ancient way of life.

Society

April 2017

Dear Grandkids

by Various Writers

Six acclaimed Canadian authors write letters from the heart

Society

March 2017

Called to resist

by Paul Wilson

Liberal Christians in the United States test their faith against a demagogue

Promotional Image