Teaberry is a small perennial shrub that is native to the upper eastern parts of North America. The teaberry plant produces wintergreen oil. The red berries are edible and the leaves of the shrub make a delicious tea. Teaberry was once used by the Native American Indians for medicinal purposes. All parts of the shrub are used for food and shelter for wildlife. Teaberry, or Gaultheria procumbens L., is also known commonly as American Wintergreen shrub or Boxberry shrub. The evergreen teaberry leaves can be harvested for tea anytime of the year.
Things You'll Need
Fill a glass jar with teaberry leaves and pour sterile water over the leaves. Seal the jar with a lid.
Place the sealed jar in a warm spot for several days. A sunny window indoors is a good location to watch the leaves for signs of fermentation. The water will start to look bubbly when the leaves have completed fermentation.
Drain the leaves from the water. You can dilute this water to make a strong tea if you want or wait for the teaberry leaves to complete the process.
Dry the drained teaberry leaves according to the directions on the dehydrator. The dried leaves will make a milder tea.
Steep six to seven dried teaberry leaves in boiling water to reach the desired strength. Experiment with the tea until you find the flavor suitable to your taste. Just as with any type of tea, the amount of tea leaves and the length of brewing time depends on individual preference. More leaves and a longer brewing time will result in stronger flavored tea.
References and ResourcesPaghat's Garden: Wintergreen, The Little Tea of the Woods
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service: Plants Profile for Gaultheria procumbens L. eastern teaberry