Pronounced with emphasis on the first syllable, betony also goes by many other common names: lousewort, bishopwort, purple betony, and wood betony. The botanical name for this herb comes from the Greek word stachys, meaning "spike", because of the arrangement of its blooms. Betony is native to open woodlands and heaths from Scotland to the Mediterranean and from Spain to the Caucasus. Sir William Hookers (the first director of the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, Surrey) claimed the English name betony is a corruption of the Celtic words bew ("head") and ton ("tonic"), as the tea is believed to help support nervous headaches and tension. Older herbals claim betony purifies the blood and is a fine, natural painkiller. In European monasteries, it was used to help support shortness of breath. The Saxons believed chewing betony leaves before a party would help avoid drunkenness, and an infusion was supposed to help avoid bad dreams.
Plant Facts and Growing Tips
Plant: Hardy perennial. The hairy, unbranched, or slightly branched stems have opposite leaves that are oblong at the bottom of the plant and lance-shaped closer to the top. Whorls of red-purple flowers bloom from July into August. The plant has a musky odor.
Height: 8 to 24 inches.
Soil: Deep, fertile, well drained, moderately moist.
Exposure: Full sun or partial shade.
Propagation: Seeds or "nutlets" that fall free around the plant are sown in fall or in spring during the third lunar phase. You may also make root cuttings.
Care: Betony is a slow grower. The plants may benefit from division and replanting every third or fourth year. However, if they're thriving and blooming well, leave them alone.
Part Used for Tea: Leaves.
Taste: Pleasant, warm, astringent; slightly bitter, so you may want to sweeten with honey.How to Brew
By Infusion: 1 teaspoon dried leaf (or 3 teaspoons crushed fresh leaf). Place in a porcelain pot, cover with 1 cup boiling water, then steep to taste. Don't overindulge - betony tea made from fresh leaves can have a rather intoxicating effect!
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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 pot, cover and let steep for 2-4 minutes. Pour into your cup; add milk and sugar to taste.
Iced tea brewing method: (to make 1 liter/quart): Place 5 tea bags into a teapot or heat resistant pitcher. Pour 1 1/4 cups of freshly boiled water over the tea itself. Steep for 5 minutes. Quarter fill a serving pitcher with cold water. Pour the tea into the serving pitcher straining the tea bags. Add ice and top-up with cold water. Garnish and sweeten to taste.
* 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."