Linden trees are commonly planted alongside roads of new subdivisions. They are a popular urban choice because they thrive in urban conditions. That was how I was first introduced to linden trees. They were planted, side by side, along a crescent road near my neighbourhood. Every late June or early July, my running routine would change from running in a giant grid to repeating laps up and down the linden-lined crescent. I wanted to smell the scent of the tiny linden flowers as they bloomed for that one week. An ephemeral time that I associate with clearing my mind.
It was many years later when I finally figured out the name of the trees. At the lake, I came across a man high up on a ladder, picking the flowers and leaves of a tree in his yard. He explained to us that he was picking them to make tea. A tea that he has enjoyed since he was a boy growing up in Poland. It was this man who gave me the common name and introduced me to the seasonal habit of foraging the blossoms. Also called little-leaf linden or Tilia cordata, these ornamental trees are found in Europe and North America.
Lindens have been reported to bring about a whole host of health benefits including reducing insomnia, lowering blood pressure and aiding in digestion.* What I was most interested in though, was the stories behind the tree. For instance, in Latvia, a linden tree is planted when a girl is born (oak tree for boys) to bring about strength and protection. In England, the linden tree is known as a lime tree. Though it bears no resemblance to limes, the translation of the Polish name Święta Lipka is “Holy Lime”. Its presence is thought to protect against bad luck and repels evil spirits. “In Slavic mythology the Linden (Lipa) is a Holy tree, and many towns and villages are named for it. It also lends its name to the months of June (Croatia) and July (Poland) respectively, and is apparently the root of the name for the city of Leipzig in Germany.”**
Linden Blossom Tea
Locate a tree or trees away from pollution sources (busy streets, places where pesticides are used).
Pick the flowers when they are open to their fullest and most fragrant. The flowers and light green bracts should easily pull away from the branch. Place in a paper bag and store in the refrigerator until ready for use.
Freshly foraged linden blossoms
Freshly boiled water
Steep 1-2 tbsp of flowers in boiled water for 15 minutes. Enjoy plain or with some honey to sweeten.
Prepare using 2 tbsp of blossoms then add honey, lemon and ice.
Sweet and perfume-like. If you enjoy Earl Grey and Jasmine Tea then you will enjoy Linden Blossom tea. It is mild in flavouring though if you prefer a stronger taste, just add more flowers to your tea.
How to dry linden:
Place gathered flowers and leaves in a paper bag. Place in a dry location out of direct light. Shake every day. Place into a sealing jar once fully dried (about 1 week).
*Please note that I did not investigate the scientific evidence for these health claims. I am simply listing them to let you know that lindens have been important to people for a long time. If interested in the health benefits of linden blossoms, I encourage you to do your own research.
** From The Dreaming Wood
Have you harvested linden flowers before? Do you have any linden tree stories? Have you eaten linden infused honey? I would love to hear them. Feel free to comment below!