At marketplaces in cities and towns, you would find vividly-colored baskets with herbs and plants for just about every occasion. Fragrant and warming drinks from the most unexpected combinations of herbs are brewed in Azerbaijan. There are many peculiarities – and we shall try to explain some of them.
Tea-drinking in Azerbaijan is a tradition spanning centuries. It is the symbol of hospitality, the secret of longevity and the integral attribute of casual chats and hearty conversations. Thousands of species of herbs and plants grow in the country. They are gathered with care and dried under direct sunlight – to give health and energy to the people who know how to use them correctly.
We begin with a very familiar and popular herb. Of the 300 species of rose hips known to science, 42 can be found in Azerbaijan – 26 of which grow in the wild. A rose hip drink bolsters immunity – it has a lot of vitamin C, so it strengthens a body’s resistance to infections, as well as curing inflammations. Replacing tea or coffee with a rose hip hot drink is a great idea! But remember – this drink would not be good for people suffering from gastritis.
Cornflower’s scientific name - Centaurea cyanus – comes from Greek “kentauros”. The mythological tribe of centaurs perfectly reflects the essence of a cornflower – these flowers combine, just like centaurs, the earthly and the heavenly. Their stems reaching upwards and the blue of the skies, which fell upon them. Since ancient times, blue cornflowers have been used for medicinal purposes. It is believed that cornflowers reduce body temperature, treat itches, and help with lung ulcers. In Azerbaijan, these flowers grow on the Absheron peninsula, in the mountains of the Lesser Caucasus and in Lenkoran.
Goatweed is one of the most popular herbs in folk medicine and phytotherapy. Its medicinal properties have been described even in the most modern medicinal research. Goatweed’s effectiveness has been proved while treating anxiety. The component of goatweed – cineol – normalizes the neural system, provides a sedative effect and does well against insomnia, even if it is caused by stress. Scientists have found out that an extract of goatweed is more effective in treating minor to mild depression than placebo. Besides, it relaxes muscles and gets rid of cramps. But you cannot treat a cold with goatweed – that is a myth.
There are six types of wild Juniper growing in Azerbaijan – this coniferous plant from the cypress family. It has a distinct magical smell (that is why juniper is widely used in phytotherapy) and a sweet-spicy flavor. Its galberries contain sugar, organic acids, starch and fibers. There are so many useful qualities – juniper has antiseptic, pain-relieving, choleretic, calming, disinfecting and anti-inflammation effect. If you put a few berries into a cup of tea, let it brew for a bit, add a spoon of honey and a slice of lemon – you would get a delicious and a very useful drink.
Mallow was highly valued as a medicinal herb in China 5000 years ago. It is also known as a unique tea supplement since Ancient Rome times. Tea with mallow flavor is an unusual drink – where traditional tea flavors intertwine with herbal-floral overtones and deliver caramel motives in the aftertaste. The most spectacular combinations of flavors occur when mallow is mixed with other herbs and plants – hibiscus, cornflower or jasmine. The base for the mixture could be either of black or green tea. The chemical composition of mallow makes this herb an important medicinal one. Since ancient times, mallow drinks have been used to treat inflammations, lung infections, bronchitis and asthma.