I’ve wanted to share this recipe for a long time, and I’m not sure what took me so long other than the fact that this tea is usually made when I feel a sickness coming on, like a cold or a flu. Alhamdullilah (thank God), that’s rare in my house, so I don’t need to grab for it too often, but today I have had to drink several cups. I also feel very nostalgic for my best friend who first introduced it to me and gave me handfuls of it to keep. She brought it from Turkey, where they call it Ihlamur, and I was very sure to not forget the name of it so I could ask for it and look for it should I run out. Thankfully, she has re-stocked me several times!
Ihlamur is the Turkish word for linden berry, which also grows in the U.S.- I know because she actually showed it to me on the street and told me there was a certain time of year in which the leaves should be picked and further dried. They also have these tiny berries that come along with all the leaves when you pick them, as you can see on the plate above. I actually think we have them in our yard now, but I keep missing the season to go and pick them. This gardener talks about them here, giving some fascinating facts and you can even buy it dried in some Mediterranean or specifically Turkish shops. Online gives you more options to source it, though:
Once you have the leaves, the tea is easy to make and lasts a long time without getting bitter. In fact, it’s better and better when you leave it out, covered, of course.
Simply boil water and add the leaves, letting them steep over low heat, for about 10 minutes. At this point, turn the pot off and let the leaves stay in the pot, scooping out only enough liquid for the amount of tea being served and straining the leaves from the pot for each cup of tea.
For each cup of tea, add a spoon of good honey like this one from Canada, or this one from Germany:
..and the juice of one quartered lemon. Serve warm.
The other thing I love is that if/when this gets cold, I simply cover it and put it in the refrigerator (once leaves are strained) and reheat over the stove when I want to have some more. In this way, it’s good for several days.
I really hope you reach for ihlamur this winter, not because you need it but because you want to try it. Who knows, maybe in the spring you’ll even find a linden tree your yard and pick the berries and leaves. Just be sure to check with your local arborist to make sure what you’ve picked is safe to consume.