Camellia sinensis

What are some of the remedies you associate with tea?

Although we didn't really discuss it in Ashkenazi Herbalism, Camellia sinensis (tea) for almost four centuries has been the most popular plant infusion throughout Russia, including among the Jews of the Pale.

Tea was "introduced" to Russia (the czar’s court) in the early 17th century via the Mongolian khanate. It's likely that Camellia sinensis was known north of the Black Sea even earlier (via the Caucasus from Iran). Beginning in 18th century, C. sinensis largely supplanted/augmented local hot/cold infusions that Russians and Ukrainians call uzvar (dried fruits and berries) and sbiten (honey, and herbs such as ginger, sage, St. John’s wort, cinnamon, and nutmeg) as a cold-weather drink.

Tea's very ubiquity tends to its being overlooked as part of the materia medica of Eastern European folk medicine in general. However, tea with honey and raspberry (fresh berries and/or leaves) was and remains a popular remedy, particularly for children's ailments. Personal histories, including those of the book’s authors, testify to the ubiquity of not just tea and honey, but tea and raspberry specifically, as compound infusion and panacea for childhood illness. From Ashkenazi Herbalism: “A folk healer who took care of sick children in Tishevits (present-day Tyszowce, Poland), another small town, which is about fifty miles from my grandparents’ town. Aunt Gitl was beloved by her young patients because ‘she always prescribed the same remedy: a teaspoon of berry juice and lots of tea.’" In the book, we cite the healers of Eishyshok (present-days Eišiškės, Lithuania): "Hayya Sorele Lubetski’s daughter, Batia, for example, still swore by her mother’s cure for hepatitis: a drink made of ground up raspberry vines, dandelions, carrots, followed by a drink of fresh chamomile infusion."

image source: 6 185045 Camellia sinensis (L.) Kuntze [125 1009510 Thea sinensis L.]
Ann. Fl. Pomone, sér. 2, vol. 4 : t. 43 (1817) [n.a.]