Raspberry leaf is the perfect herb to begin your exploration with “gong fu herbs” The taste is surprisingly similar to a black tea. I had read this before but was a bit skeptical since I’ve had raspberry leaf many other times, yet it was always in a blend with other things so I hadn’t really tried it on its own, let alone, gong fu style. I think raspberry leaf is also easier to find and is less intimidating than many other herbs. Most people are acquainted with raspberries so it won’t be such a giant leap of faith to try the leaves!
I put a heaping tablespoon of the dry herb in my 100ml gaiwan, poured boiling water (212F) over it and left it for 1-2 min. I wanted to try a strong brew this first time, plus the texture of raspberry leaf is pretty fluffy so I feel that a longer steeping helps to saturate it better. The smell of the wet leaves was slightly metallic, slightly tart and sweet with an added greenness to it. The color looks and smells just like black tea and when I tasted it, I really was surprised at the similarities. I think that if I didn’t know I was drinking raspberry leaf, I would probably think I was drinking some strange black tea.
I could taste the sweetness of stewed prunes and a slight tangy tartness at the back of my throat once I swallowed it. If I paid attention, the tartness had a whisper of the more widely consumed portion of this plant- raspberries! The mouth feel is a lot smoother than a typical black tea but it does have a slight astringency on the sides of the tongue and top of mouth. Although this infusion isn’t as drying on the mouth, it is MUCH more drying internally. I actually had to stop drinking for a bit because I could feel the drying in my stomach. I do not know exactly how to describe it except for it being a slight ache, but not pain.
Raspberry leaf is known mainly as an herb for the female reproductive system. It tones the pelvic region including the uterus and is generally safe throughout pregnancy. It’s good for balancing hormones, strengthening the endocrine system and helps to regulate the menstrual cycle. Drinking the infusion may help with cramps and reducing a heavy flow. I can attest to this as I noticed a significant difference on my flow after having drank a strong brew of raspberry during my cycle, this is due to the tannins in the plant. Although it’s known as mainly an herb for women, it is great for men and provides all the same benefits where applicable. Specifically for men, raspberry is beneficial to prostate health. Raspberry leaf is also rich in vitamins and minerals including vitamins E, C, B complex, calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus. Raspberry is also great to treat diarrhea because of its powerful astringent effect I mentioned previously. Tea and Tisanes are a great way to get nutrients, this can be crucial for people who do not have the best diet; a cup of tea can help immensely.
I’m currently enrolled in a certification course to become an herbalist, and so I hope to provide the most accurate information regarding the use and benefits of herbs. For a long time I got my info on different websites and blogs but I craved for something more formal and reliable. Not that all blogs and websites are bad, some are very well researched! Besides books, my main go to online resource for information on herbs is The Herbal Academy Herbarium database. For $45 a year you can get access to lots of well-researched and sited articles about herbs and herb studies. The website also offers lots of good classes on the realm of herbs. I encourage anyone interested to check it out!