I remember, a few years back, visiting Antigua and wanting to buy some tea. Someone asked me if I wanted bush tea. I said no while wondering to myself “what in the world is that?”. Every time I went somewhere for breakfast, they were serving a yellowish, greenish tea. That was the bush tea. I finally decided to try it one day (it took me awhile because it was a far stretch from the regular Tetley tea I was used too). One sip and I was hooked! The intricate flavors tantalized my taste buds and I appreciated its light fragrance.
It turns out bush teas are popular all over the Caribbean which is definitely a more tea inclined rather than coffee inclined region. Different islands and different people have their own varied ways of making bush tea, but at the core, bush tea always consists of a mix of local herbs, leaves and/or grasses, usually found in someone’s backyard or nearby and water. Some people boil the herbs for about 5-10 minutes but most prefer to pour hot water over the leaves and steep it for the same amount of time. Afterwards, the liquid is strained and poured into a mug. The bush tea can be drunk unsweetened (my preference) or can be sweetened with brown sugar or honey. It is not usually served with milk however I personally find Antiguan sage (not to be confused with garden sage) bush tea to be delicious with almond milk and a touch of honey. Usually bush tea is served hot, but I promise you, it tastes delicious chilled as well.
There are many purposes for bush tea. For one, it is a common breakfast staple given to children and adults alike as a healthy way to start your day. The hot liquid cuts early morning gas in the stomach and is believed to give energy. Bush tea is also seen as a remedy for many ailments from headaches to colds to asthma to menstrual pains. Different ingredients provide different benefits and are used as such. For example lemongrass is said to be good for treating colds and fevers. Some bush teas have a very strong taste that must be acquired such as cerasee tea, while others are very light or flavorful and easy to drink like lemongrass/fevergrass. My preference is definitely the latter type, I can only drink teas that taste good!
My favorite bush tea blend always includes basil. There is a delightful taste and aroma that is released by this herb. Here is my favorite recipe for Antigua bush tea that you can try at home!
Antiguan bush tea recipe
½ tsp fresh lemon balm
1 tsp fresh basil
1 tsp fresh mint
1 tsp fresh lemongrass
3 cups of water
Bring water to a boil and pour it over the leaves. Let steep for 5 minutes. Sweeten to taste if desired and enjoy! Makes 2-3 servings.