What is Oswego Tea?
Oswego tea is one of the common names for Monarda which is a flowering plant belonging to the mint family. Other common names for the plant are bee balm and horsemint. Oswego tea which is native to North America is sometimes referred to as bergamot because of its citric fragrance which closely resembles the bergamot orange.
The Monarda species of plants include both perennial and annual varieties and grow to a height anywhere between 30 and 90 centimeters. The plant produces tubular flowers with a wide lower lip and a narrower upper lip and some cultivated varieties of the plant produce double flowers. The color produced varies from red to pink to purple depending on the particular species. Monarda didyma has red flowers while Monarda fistulosa is more pink and Monarda pectinata and citrodora produce purple flowers.
Historical Use of Oswego Tea
Several species of the plant have been used for a long time as medicinal plants especially Monarda fistulosa and Monarda didyma, the latter of which has the highest concentration of essential oils. Native American tribes including the Blackfoot, Winnebago and Menominee have long valued oswego tea for its antiseptic actions. They have put the plant to good use in poultices to help heal minor wounds and skin infections.
Native Americans and the settlers who came later have also used oswego tea to help treat respiratory conditions and digestive complaints. Oswego tea has also been used to make a preparation to treat throat infections resulting from gingivitis and other oral complaints. Oswego tea contains a compound called thymol which is a major ingredient in many of the commercial mouthwash formulas on the market today.
As well as being used for its antiseptic abilities, some of the native American tribes also used the plant for general stimulant purposes and more specifically to help treat bloating and flatulence while an infusion made from oswego tea has also frequently been used to ease headaches and treat fever.
Infusions made with Oswego tea tend to be somewhat bitter because of the thymol content but many people find the flavor palatable. It actually tastes like a combination of peppermint and oregano. As well as its medicinal uses, oswego tea has also been used as a seasoning for meat dishes, especially wild birds. You can easily find the plant growing wild on hillsides, in forests and moist meadow lands around most of North America.
Medicinal Uses Of Oswego Tea
Although the herb has not been especially well studied scientifically, there are various popular traditional uses and numerous anecdotal pieces of evidence that lend plenty of credence to its abilities.
Some of the most common uses of Oswego tea include the following…
- Wound Healing: It can be applied topically to deal with rashes, minor wound, bites, stings and burns. The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory actions of the herb make it ideal to speed up healing and prevent infection from taking a hold.
- Skin Diseases: It can be applied to the skin topically to deal with a wide range of common skin conditions including eczema, psoriasis and acne.
- Anxiety: Oswego tea can help calm the nerves. Unlike powerful prescription medications, there is no real risk of adverse side effects and certainly none of the risk of dependency that you would get from pharmaceuticals.
- Menstruation: Oswego tea is also a great natural remedy for women looking to ease the symptoms of painful menstruation.
- Muscle Pain and Fever: Drinking a cup of Oswego tea might help relieve muscle pain, fevers, chills and headaches.
- Respiration: Breathing in the hot, therapeutic steam from Oswego tea leaves can help treat various respiratory conditions such as coughs, sore throats, sinus infection and congestion.
- Dental Problems: Because of its antiseptic thymol content, Oswego tea can be used as a mouthwash to treat dental problems like tooth infections and gingivitis and also to kep your breath smelling nice and fresh.
How to Use Oswego tea
You can get the most from your Oswego tea by either using it externally or drinking it in a tea or decoction form.
There are several ways that you can use the herb externally depending on the condition that you need to treat.
- Place a handful or so of the fresh Oswego tea leaves in a cheesecloth or similar piece of linen material, tie the material and place the bag under very hot water in the sink or bath. Breathe in the steam deeply to help cure respiratory problems, sore throats, congestion or fever.
- Soak a suitable piece of cloth in your tea and apply it as a compress to any affected areas of the body.
- Oswego tea can also be used as an ingredient in a topical ointment or balm. You can use the ointment to treat and help heal minor wounds, bites or burns.
- Apply the tea or ointment to any skin conditions that you may be suffering from like acne, cold sores eczema or psoriasis. Oswego tea has natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory abilities that make it a suitable natural remedy for these common skin conditions.
- Like most other members of Oswego tea’s mint family, the herb makes for an outstanding natural remedy for digestive troubles including dyspepsia, bloating, flatulence and nausea.
- It can also be drunk in tea form to help women deal with menstrual cramping.
- Another use of the herb is to calm the nerves and relax the body and mind prior to sleep. It is invaluable when drunk alone but combining it with other calming herbs like chamomile or valerian root may make it even more effective.
Oswego Tea Recipes
Oswego tea can be used to make a delicious tea that you can enjoy either hot or chilled on those hot summer days.
Iced tea recipe
If you would like to drink your oswego tea cold. Then follow this simple recipe. It is a delicious and healthy treat for those hot summer days.
- Put a quarter cup of oswego tea leaves and flowers into a teapot or a glass container.
- Pour a quart or so of boiling water over your leaves.
- Cover the bowl or teapot and steep for at least half an hour or longer until the mixture is cool.
- When your tea is sufficiently cool, strain the flowers and leaves.
- You can then sweeten your drink with honey before serving it chilled over ice.
Chamomile and Oswego Blend
Oswego tea can also be combined with other therapeutic herbs like chamomile to give you even more health benefits. There are plenty of variations that you can try but this one may help get you started.
- Put 4 teaspoons of dried oswego tea leaves and a quarter cup of chamomile flowers in a mason jar or similar container.
- Add a few mint leaves and some chopped pineapple.
- Add 2 teaspoons of rosemary leaves and mix well.
- You can now use 2 teaspoons of the mixture for each cup of hot tea.
- Simply add your mix to a cup and pour boiling water on top.
- Allow your tea to steep for five minutes and then strain out the leaves and other solid ingredients.
- It is delicious on its own but serve up it up with honey if you need the extra sweetness.
Have you ever tried oswego tea and what was your experience? Please let us know, we would be delighted to hear from you.