Common names are black whortleberry; blueberry, burren myrtle, dyeberry, huckleberry; hurtleberry, whinberry; and wineberry; This herb is known for its antiseptic and astringent properties. It's an effective supportive for diarrhea in some, but for others it produces diarrhea! Elizabethan health practitioners made a syrup of the berries with honey, which they called rob, as a herb that can be used for diarrhea. The berries pass through the stomach without affecting it and then begin working in the small intestine. Bilberry also is a known urinary antiseptic. A concentrated decoction is said to be good for typhoid fever, and it's also been used to help support coughs, vomiting, and stomach cramps. The fresh or well-preserved berry juice is a good mouthwash or gargle for respiratory problems and inflammation of tongue or gums.
Plant Facts and Growing Tips
Plant: A shrubby, deciduous perennial with angular, branched stems that grow from a creeping woodstock. The leaves are dark green and shiny, about 1/2 to 1 inch long. Reddish pink or red and white flowers are produced in May and June. The fruit is a blue-black, reddish, five-seeded berry. Although sometimes called a huckleberry, it more closely resembles a cranberry, and is a relative of bearberry.
Height: 1 to 2 feet.
Soil: Sandy, peaty, acidic in northern United States; woods and forest meadows in Europe. Bilberry doesn't like limy soils.
Propagation: Division of rhizomes or clumps, layering, cuttings.
Parts Used for Tea: Leaves and berries. Gather leaves when the plant is fully developed but before the berries are ripe. Collect berries and dry them. When ripened, they have the highest vitamin and mineral content.
Taste: Sour, astringent, cold, dry.
How to Brew
By Infusion: Steep 2 to 3 teaspoons leaves in 1 cup water. Drink one cup per day.
By Decoction: Steep 1 teaspoon dried berries with 1 cup water. Drink one or two cups per day, cold. Lemon rinds blend nicely with the decoction and add a tangy flavor.
Bilberry Fruit Tea
In a large punch bowl, add your choice of diced fruits and juices, sprigs of mint, apple cider, and lemon juice. Then add cold bilberry tea for flavor and color.
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Hot tea brewing method: Bring freshly drawn cold water to a rolling boil. Place 1 tea bag for each cup into the teapot. Pour the boiling water into the teapot. Cover and let steep for 3-7 minutes according to taste (the longer the steeping time the stronger the tea).
Iced tea brewing method (to make 1 liter/quart): Place 6 tea bags into a teapot or heat resistant pitcher. Pour 1 1/4 cups of freshly boiled water over the tea. Steep for 5 minutes. Quarter fill a serving pitcher with cold water. Pour the tea into your serving pitcher straining the bags. Add ice and top-up the pitcher with cold water. Garnish and sweeten to taste. [A rule of thumb when preparing fresh brewed iced tea is to double the strength of hot tea since it will be poured over ice and diluted with cold water].
Leaves can produce symptoms of poisoning if used over long periods. The herb also lowers blood sugar levels, so diabetics who take insulin should avoid bilberry.
ZooScape is proud to be the exclusive distributor of TerraVita teas, herbs and supplements in the United States, Canada and around the world. Please direct all wholesale and bulk inquiries to Simona Heather at 1-844-449-0444.
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Products are intended to support general well being and are not intended to treat, diagnose, mitigate, prevent, or cure any condition or disease. If conditions persist, please seek advice from your medical doctor. Information provided at ZooScape.com relies partly on Traditional Uses. The essence of the current American rule on Traditional Uses is, as stated by FTC, "Claims based on historical or traditional use should be substantiated by confirming scientific evidence, or should be presented in such a way that consumers understand that the sole basis for the claim is a history of use of the product for a particular purpose."