Friday, July 3, 2009

Aromatic Birch Tree (Wintergreen & Root Beer Flavored)

I have been looking for a flavored birch tree to smell again for 6 years now. I took a wacky native plants class back then in Waynesville, NC that taught me about how the Native Americans used this type of birch tree (pictured here) to brush their teeth with (now is this really true?) -and during that time I lived at a house in Bethel, NC which had an abundance of aromatic birch saplings for me to sniff on, mmmmm. I hadn't found one since, till today. These trees have the most amazing scent of all time, they smell like wintergreen and root beer - a scent so strong yet totally non offensive it can make your mouth water and there's a natural instinct to just chew on a branch. Or make a drink out of it.
The bark has alot of nuances going on, from smooth to peeling and cracked - but across the whole trunk is a basic pattern of patchy lighter and darker greys. I have nothing but love for these birch trees. :)


1 comment:

Leslie @ the oko box said...

oh neato- I just found this...

Black Birch Tea
"To make a wintergreen-flavored tea, cut some sweet birch twigs in small pieces and cover them with boiling birch sap. Let it steep for a minute or two, then strain out the twigs and sweeten the tea to taste. Some like to add cream or hot milk…
"Birch Tea can also be made of the red, inner bark of sweet birches, but removing this bark from standing timber disfigures and injures the trees. If sweet birches are being cut down anyway, as in land clearing or limbering, one can gather a supply of this fragrant bark without feeling like a vandal. The bark from the stumps and roots is considered best. Use a knife or a carpenter’s wood scraper to remove the outer, dry layer and then peeel off the red inner bark. It peels best in the spring or early summer. If this is cut in small pieces and dried at ordinary room temperature, then sealed in fruit jars one can have the makings of Birch Tea throughout the year. Use boiling water when birch sap is not available. Never boil the twigs or bark in making this tea and never dry the bark in too warm a place, for the wintergreen flavor is very volatile, and is easily driven off by too much heat."

(Gibbons, Euell. Stalking the Wild Asparagus. New York: David McKay Company, Inc., 1962.)