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Yerba Buena - Oregon Tea

Bergamot Mint, Oregon Tea, Black Mint

Clinopodium douglasii Satureja douglasii

"Yerba Buena"- Spanish for "Good Herb",

Yerba Buena (Clinopodium douglasii) is a very fragrant herb that grows readily along the western coastline with its natural habitat stretching from Alaska to the California Baja.

 Yerba Buena Oregon Tea - Clinopodium douglasii
Yerba Buena - Clinopodium douglasii

The common name for the herb is the same in English as well as Spanish - Yerba Buena and comes from the Spanish words "hiberba Buena" meaning "good herb".

Early settlers to the California coast found the species growing so readily they lent the name to one of the largest settlement in the area. After the Mexican- American war in 1847 the community name of Yerba Buena was formally changed to San Francisco.

Yerba Buena is quite different in Spanish speaking countries around the world where, the term "hiberba buena" (Yerba Buena) refers to any local growing "True Mint" (Mentha) and the exact species varies from province to province (not Clinopodium douglasii) . True mints from Central American regions of the world are often called "bergamot mint" and have a citrus-like scent. The bergamot mint plant family is used globally in medicines, cooking, as an herbal tea, and in commercial medicinal formulations.

Culinary Use

Yerba Buena also called Oregon Tea, has found its way into numerous cuisines around the world. Today, the herb is prized more for its medicinal value than as a culinary herb, yet it remains an important ingredient in the modern kitchen.

Oregon Tea (Clinopodium douglasii) has a distinct spearmint aroma and flavor that makes this herb a great addition to various salads. Adding mint-type herbs to a salad will create a unique effect. Mint herbs have a natural "cleansing" effect on the pallet: tiny bits of the herb burst through each bite, clean the taste buds, and allow all the flavors in the dish to be fresh and renewed. The greatest flavor is concentrated in the leaves course, and using the dried herb is as effective as fresh leaf. The plant is extremely versatile and can be eaten cooked as well as raw. Small amounts added to savory dishes will act as an aromatic; highlighting, enriching, and combining the flavors. Yerba Buena is a suitable substitute for the mint in any favorite recipe.

While still somewhat obscure, Yerba Buena continues to grow in demand and popularity due to its varied uses beyond a culinary herb, both in its medicinal value and as a natural rodent repellent around the house and as a garden border. That's right; the strong mint scent of will actually drive rodents, mice, and some insects away.

Medicinal use

Yerba Buena has long been consumed as tea (Oregon Tea) for general good health and as an herbal pain reliever (analgesic). Even before the Spanish and Europeans colonized the Americas, Native American Indians recognized its value. Today, this folk medicine's effectiveness has been endorsed by scientific research. Yerba Buena is an effective alternative medicine for aches and pains and one of the 10 herbs certified by the Department of Health (DOH) of the Philippines. Today, the herb is widely recognized for its antiseptic, anti-cancer, diuretic, anti-spasm, anti-emetic effectiveness while functioning as stimulant and to having restorative properties.

The fresh and dried leaves can both be used and because Yerba Buena belongs to the mint family, soaking the herb leaves in a glass of water (30 to 45 minutes), it makes a good and effective mouth wash for a clean, fresh smelling breath.

As an herbal medicine, simply boil dried or fresh leaves and strain the "tea", this decoction of Yerba Buena is effective for minor ailments such as headaches, toothaches, and joint pains. It can also relive stomachaches due to gas buildup and indigestion.

A poultice preparation and oil extracts from the crushed stems of Yerba Buena may be applied directly to bruises and abrasions.

Caution should be observed in taking this and any herbal medications as some can be toxic in large doses.

Yerba Buena decoction(Oregon Tea): Preparation & Use

Fresh Yerba Buena leaves should be rinsed clean under cold running water then pat dry. Chop leaves to size (or crush dried leaves to release the essential oils) and simmer 2 teaspoons of leaves per 8oz of water for 15 to 20 minutes. Strain and cool.

  • Sip as a herbal tea to stimulate, restore vim and vigor, and promote good general health
  • As analgesic, relief of a headache, toothache, or for relief of minor joint pain - take a cupful of warm decoction every 3 hours.
  • For tooth aches, pound the fresh leaves, squeeze juice out and apply on a cotton ball then hold in place on to the aching tooth.
  • Rinse mouth for an effective mouth wash and clean, fresh smelling breath

Always consult a qualified professional before using any herbal or homeopathic remedies.