- Shay (شاي) - Palestinian Black Tea
Black tea is a staple in nearly every Palestinian home. Brewed to the utmost potency the tea leaves can offer, then sweetened with sugar, many have fallen in love with the potent yet nectarous punch of Shai. This special tea is often mixed with other herbs to create a unique blend of exquisite flavors one can only encounter from Palestinian tea tradition. Black tea is a drink of choice offered to guests and for special occasions. However, the tea is so delicious that many families will enjoy its sweet yet powerful punch on the regular.
- Maramiya (مرمية) - Sage
Maramiya, also known as sage, is a medicinal plant commonly used in tea to help relieve an upset stomach. In Palestine, pads are soaked with a sage tincture for slow healing wounds. Brewed with water, sage is also used as a gargle for gingivitis, tonsillitis, and a sore throat. The herb boasts powerful aromatic qualities as well, helping to make it a calming force on multiple fronts. Believed to have origins in Native American practice, the dried leaf is bundled and burned (more accurately, smoked like incense) to help ‘cleanse’ mind, body, spirit, and space. The practice is better known as smudging and has been extended to many cultures and traditions throughout the world. Sage has long been recognized as a healing herb by peoples across the globe, who have continued to use it for a wide array of conditions.
- Baboonej (بابونج) - Chamomile
It is impossible to deny the splendor of the sweet fragrance Baboonej offers to all who draw near. Also known as chamomile, this therapeutic herb is known to calm the mind and heart. It is also used as a remedy for a fever and abdominal pains. Palestinians use the herb in teas and also add it to a baby’s bath to help their sleep. Additionally, made into an ointment, Baboonej can be used to help treat skin conditions such as insect bites, small wounds, and eczema. Palestinian culture has also made use of chamomile to treat ‘tired eyes’ and inflammation of the mouth and respiratory tract. For centuries, this herb has been viewed as a gift from the heavens due to its angelic aroma and healing properties.
- Mint (نعناع)
Mint is a common addition to Shai, Palestinian black tea. Villagers, especially workers, prefer their Shai dark and very sweet. Another popular Palestinian drink that includes mint is called Gillab. It is made from raisin juice and lemon, plus either mint or rose water. Mint is also often used as a garnish in Palestinian dishes. With medicinal herb farming beginning to blossom in Gaza and the West Bank, mint will be an even more readily available herb for domestic use, as well as export. Perhaps a quintessential representation of Palestinian herbs, mint in all its forms is a pleasure you will not want to miss.
- Shih (الشيح) - Palestinian Wormwood
Palestinian wormwood is most often used to make tea which is not only relaxing, but also has anti-cancer properties as well. Additionally, as the name may give hint, wormwood has historically been used to repel moths, slugs, and worms. The tea may be used in combination with other herbs to prevent illness at the onset of a cold and to help heal from the effects of a flu. In traditional Palestinian medicine, its uses also include cardiac stimulation, increasing blood circulation, and to help ease pain in women during labor. In combination with alcohol, or remedied in larger doses, this powerful plant is capable of producing hallucinations! So be careful…!