Last year, or was it early this year, I placed an order with Camellia Sinensis because I saw they offered some unique herbal teas that are wild-harvested from Québec. Labrador tea is in the genus Rhododendron — the leaf underside and stems are covered in a dense, rust-hued fur.

It smells so good in the bag, like an evergreen forest. It reminds me of my times in Canada, the Pacific Northwest and of the wintertime redwood forest here in northern California. Crisp, clean air. Breathe. This is the kind of fresh smell that makes me aware of my own being and the lightness of mind and body I am capable of achieving in nature. It elicits a sense of presence, away from the smells of humans and the industrial worlds we create.

In the description on this page, Camellia Sinensis says of this tea: “a lively and light liquor, supported by strong citrus and camphor aromas. Its vegetal character is reminiscent of lichen and cedar.”

Had I not read that, I would describe it as… let’s see… the same as the smell of the leaf but with some sweetness of strange origin, a thickness that reminds me of silver needle white teas, perhaps due to the fur. Cool evergreen forests. There’s also a bit of pungency — resinous, tar-like, reminding me of kerosene? more than sap. You know, it also reminds me a lot of Bitterleaf Tea’s Jingmai Crab Legs but without the hint of milkiness (https://steepster.com/teas/bitterleaf-teas/78526-2016-jing-mai-crab-legs) and of Juniper Ridge’s Douglas Fir Spring Tips with a thicker, more robust, sweet taste and less of a “green” flavor (https://steepster.com/teas/juniper-ridge/14722-douglas-fir-spring-tips).

It’s recommended by the internet-at-large to not steep these leaves and stems for more than 5-6 minutes due to a high concentration of tannins in the tea that can cause stomachache. I tried to follow the parameters on the bag with 2tsp (crumbled), 250mL, 90C for 4-5 minutes but time often gets away from me. With what was probably an 8-minute steep, I did experience some bloating and big gurgles about an hour later. With that, though, also came an intense sleepiness. I was out. Labrador tea is used as a treatment for insomnia which wasn’t the purpose of my drinking but dang did it work, and it has worked the few other times I’ve sipped.

Flavors: Camphor, Cedar, Citrus, Petrichor, Pine, Pungent, Resin, Spring Water, Sweet, Tannin, Thick

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 8 min or more 2 tsp 8 OZ / 250 ML
Mastress Alita

I’ll have to try this sometime and see how it holds up in comparison to valerian root for helping me sleep.

Martin Bednář

I still have that sample from you but haven’t found a situation for it. Maybe one day!

Natethesnake

I wonder how closely related this would be to the Holly or chrysanthemum family as I’m allergic to kuding Cha and snow chrysanthemum. Sound interesting and I’m an insomniac who loves the smell of bog vegetation in Newfoundland and Labrador.

derk

Mastress Alita – I can send you some if you want. Little goes a long way.

Martin – worth a try since you seem to long for Finland :)

Natethesnake – as far as relation, all three plants are in the same Class but differ in Order. Labrador tea is in the heath Family, which includes other bog plants like cranberries and blueberries. Since you’re allergic to holly, I assume yerba maté and yaupon aren’t in your cupboard?

Martin Bednář

Ah, I see your point :) Well, it will come one day and then it will be that time! It seems it will be soon as… I have been there 5 years ago? Wait… really? Well. Indeed. Sad :(

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Comments

Mastress Alita

I’ll have to try this sometime and see how it holds up in comparison to valerian root for helping me sleep.

Martin Bednář

I still have that sample from you but haven’t found a situation for it. Maybe one day!

Natethesnake

I wonder how closely related this would be to the Holly or chrysanthemum family as I’m allergic to kuding Cha and snow chrysanthemum. Sound interesting and I’m an insomniac who loves the smell of bog vegetation in Newfoundland and Labrador.

derk

Mastress Alita – I can send you some if you want. Little goes a long way.

Martin – worth a try since you seem to long for Finland :)

Natethesnake – as far as relation, all three plants are in the same Class but differ in Order. Labrador tea is in the heath Family, which includes other bog plants like cranberries and blueberries. Since you’re allergic to holly, I assume yerba maté and yaupon aren’t in your cupboard?

Martin Bednář

Ah, I see your point :) Well, it will come one day and then it will be that time! It seems it will be soon as… I have been there 5 years ago? Wait… really? Well. Indeed. Sad :(

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Bio

If you’re an aspiring or current tea grower, let’s talk! I am slowly beginning a tea farm here in Northern California. Currently growing are young plants pulled from the ground and gifted to me after a visit to Fairhope Tea Plantation in Alabama. The parent plants are sinensis variety from a defunct Lipton research project. I’ve also started seeds from Camellia Forest Nursery in North Carolina. The types include Camellia taliensis, an assamica variety, and 3 sinensis varieties including “Small leaf” “Large leaf” and “Black Sea.” To learn how to process tea into different styles, I plan on traveling to China and Taiwan if/when COVID becomes a relative non-issue. I’m taking Mandarin classes to aid in this journey.

Tea became a hobby and my daily drink of choice some time late in the last decade. My introduction to loose leaf came, following a lone tin of some Tie Guan Yin oolong many years prior, in the form of dumpster-dived Wuyi oolong packets that somebody left upon moving out of an apartment building. From there, my palate expanded to teas from across China and the world. I used to focus more on taste and still harbor the habit, but after trying sheng pu’er, I tend to focus more on how a tea feels in my body. Does it complement my constitution? Does it change my mood or does it enhance my current mindstate? While I may not mention those effects in tea notes, it is what I value most.

Flavored teas are not a favorite but I do drink them intermittently. Drink a variety of teabags at work. Herbal teas/tisanes provide balance. Unfiltered tap water heathen (it’s good here).

In terms of who I am, you could consider me a jill of all trades. Specialty is not my strength, as can be seen in the spread of my tea notes.

One thing I will always love is riding a bicycle.

Location

Sonoma County, California, USA

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