A Powerful Guide To Popular Bahamian Remedies and Bush Teas

on July 13, 2016

Traditionally in The Bahamas, specifically on many of our Family Islands, medical clinics are few and far between. So, in order to find a quick fix for sunburn, fever, or even chronic ailments such as: diabetes and high blood pressure, we Bahamians turned to what was on hand i.e bush remedies, and chiefly in the form of tea!

Bush teas are exactly what their name implies: hot brews made from common plants found in our own backyards. Using herbs, spices, flower petals, fruit pieces, tree bark, weeds, and leaves, you’ll find us locals making medicinal teas that we’re convinced can cure anything- from the common cold to insomnia. Some specific blends are even believed to be beneficial in the treatment of cancer.

Natural remedies are popular all around the country, and while the name conveys a rural feel, venturing into the “bush” yourself isn’t necessary to acquire these teas. In fact- you can find delightful pre-packaged bush tea products on sale in throughout Downtown Nassau (our favourite neighbourhood). You just have to know what you’re looking for…


Origins of Island Bush Teas

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Credit: The Sweet Life, JA

While our preference for hot-brewed teas in the afternoon is often associated to be habit we picked up from our British ancestors, Bahamian Bush Teas are most likely to have originated from Africa. Throughout the continent, African locals used various plants such as aloe vera, cerasee, fever grass (or lemongrass), periwinkle, and wild tamarind to treat common illnesses. When the people and plants of Africa were brought to the Caribbean via the Slave Trade, the African slaves continued to use their native plants, but also incorporated new plants such as gumbo-limbo, soursop, avocado, breadfruit, and guinep- all indigenous to this region. Leaves and vines were boiled or steeped in hot water to release the natural healing agents of the plants along with oftentimes fragrant scents. For centuries these teas have been staple curative products throughout the archipelago and we continue to produce bush tea brews in modern day Bahamas using these same methods. Admittedly however, we do sometimes use a teaspoon or more of sugar to help the elixirs go down.


Bahamian Bush Tea Remedies To Try At Home

Among our savvy team of Tru Bahamian Food Tours guides are a number of bush tea enthusiasts- many of whom have developed encyclopedic knowledge of Bahamian bush teas from resulting from time spent on the outer islands and family members well-versed in natural medicines. We’ve curated a list of our favourite native bush teas that you can easily try for yourself- take a look:

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Fever Grass

 

Best For: fever, headache, eczema, acne

Preparation: boil leaves in water, 5 mins, strain the brew, and drink hot or cold, sweetened or unsweetened.

 

BushTea-16

Cerasee

 

Best For: digestion, fever, pain relief

Preparation: boil leaves in water for 15-20, strain the brew, and drink hot, sweetened or unsweetened

 

BushTea-14

Breadfruit

(leaves)

 

 

Best For: high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease

Preparation: boil leaves for 15-20 minutes covered (to ensure no light gets in), strain brew, and drink hot, sweetened or unsweetened.

 

BushTea-11

Avocado (leaves)

 

Best For: urinary stone disease, hypertension, pain relief, irregular menstrual cycle

Preparation: boil leaves for 10-15 minutes, strain brew, and drink hot, unsweetened.

 

BushTea-17

Guinep (leaves)

 

Best For: upset stomach, diarrhea, high blood pressure, cough

Preparation: boil leaves for at least 15 minutes (cover the pot to ensure no light gets in), strain, and drink tea immediately.

 

BushTea-15

Neem

 

Best For: immunity boost, high blood pressure, digestion, insomnia

Preparation: boil water, pour onto leaves and steeped for 15-20 minutes, strain brew, and drink hot, with optional honey and ginger.

 

BushTea-10

Allspice (leaves)

 

Best For: blood circulation, diabetes, coughs, colds, aches and pains, digestion

Preparation: boil leaves for at least 15 minutes (cover the pot to ensure no light gets in), strain, and drink tea immediately.

 

BushTea-13

Mint

 

Best For: gas, indigestion

Preparation: boil water and pour over leaves, steep for 10 minutes and drink hot, sweetened or unsweetened.

 


Where To Find Bush Teas & Natural Remedies In Nassau:

Genuinely Bahamian Boutique

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Credit: Tru Bahamian Food Tours

We’ve mentioned once or twice before that we love tea here in The Bahamas, and that the People-to-People program here in Nassau still serve high tea at Government House on the last Friday of every month. You don’t need to wait until they do, however, to enjoy our delicious bush teas! The Genuinely Bahamian Boutique offers a variety of Bahamian fruit teas and bush teas that both tantalize and heal! Using decaffeinated ingredients like fruit pieces, spices and herbs, Genuinely Bahamian Boutique specializes in rum teas, which adds an extra “healing” factor to the brews. Their most popular teas include the sans-rum Queen’s Cove Secret Garden Tea, made from a medley of Bahamian flowers, and the Nassau Tropical Delight Rum Tea, but the Boutique also showcases Fever-Grass Tea, a fragrant, herbal tea akin to Lemongrass that relieves all forms of aches and pain related to flus, colds, and fevers (as the name implies). The Fever-Grass Tea is so popular, it literally flies off the shelves, for not only is it good for you, it’s tasty too! This tea is a joint project between the Genuinely Bahamian Boutique and Tru Bahamian Food Tours’ very own culinary tour guide, Murray Sweeting.

Location: Charlotte and Bay Streets, Downtown Nassau

Hours: Mon-Sun, 9:00am-6:00pm

More Info: (242) 356-2242 / Facebook / Website


Tasty Teas

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Credit: Tasty Teas

Bush teas have never been more accessible than they have at Tasty Teas, a local organic tea store located on the western side of Downtown Nassau. For years, Jonathan Forbes watched his mother sell her bush teas at local farmers’ markets, but in 2013, he took the side-hustle and turned it into a burgeoning business that specializes in  filtered tea bags, whole-leaf teas, and iced teas, among many other tasty brews. Being one of the few local stores to utilize indigenous organic ingredients, Tasty Teas takes traditional Bahamian medicinal teas and gives them an extra kick by incorporating fresh local fruits and natural sweetening ingredients. One of their best selling bush teas includes the Moringa Tea made from Moringa leaves, well-known for its cancer-fighting agents and anti-inflammatory properties, along with its ability to improve digestive functions and to treat diabetes. Tasty Teas is also famous for its adaptation of the 21-Gun Salute, a concoction of 21 all-natural ingredients including Gumbo Limbo bark, a very important ingredient for those looking to spice up their love lives! You can grab a couple of boxes or single servings from their Delancey Street location or from The Drawbridge- Graycliff’s all-new boutique patisserie and gelateria.

Location: #21 Delancey Street, Downtown Nassau

Hours: Mon-Sat, 9:00am-4:30pm

More Info: (242) 322-2222 / Facebook


Pasión Tea & Coffee Company

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Credit: Tripadvisor

Feeling sniffly, aching, or tired? Bahamian bush teas can fix that, and at Pasión Tea & Coffee Company, concoctions such as Soursop Tea, Breadfruit Tea, and Cerasee Tea are available in conveniently packaged parcels to heal a wide variety of ailments. Julie Hoffer and her staff have searched high and low through the old villages on the outer islands to learn first-hand from elderly locals the medicinal agents of bush teas. Hoffer uses only indigenous fruit and herbs from the tropical jungle of the islands to make her filtered tea-bags, the same fruits and herbs used by Bahamians for generations. When brewed, these teas offer relief for flus, cancers, hypertension, menstrual cramps, labour pains, arthritis, poor libido, psoriasis, and so much more. Pasión Tea & Coffee Company also offers a variety of delicious fruit teas that ease stress and nerve pain, along with fending off the heat of the hot summer sun! If you’re looking for all-natural, organic approach to your ailments, or simply for refreshing summer blends, Nassau cruise ship guests can take a look Hoffer’s products right outside the port in Festival Place while guests on the island for a few days can visit their Plantation Hill location 5 minutes away from the International Airport.

Store Location: Festival Place, Prince George Wharf and The Pasión Boutique, Caves Road

Hours: Mon-Sat, 9:00am-9:00pm / Sun, 10:00am-8:00pm

More Info: (242) 327-7011 / Website / Facebook


Abaco Neem

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Credit: Erin’s Faces

We’ve talked a lot about bush teas and their amazing medicinal purposes, but Abaco Neem proves that bush teas aren’t the end-all to Bahamian bush remedies. Though traditionally, teas were the solution to most ailments, Abaco Neem has taken one super-plant’s healing properties to the next level here in The Bahamas by producing oils, soaps, salves, shampoos and conditioners, lotions, and even pet-care products from all-natural Bahamian ingredients! The base of all their products is the Neem plant, which is hailed for its antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties, but proprietors Nick and Daphne Miaoulis also add indigenous ingredients to their products to heighten the medicinal agents. Abaco Neem utilizes ginger, coconuts, hibiscus, lime, aloe, sandalwood, and even honey, creating health-care products that are soothing and safe for your body. Neem is a powerful fighter against diabetes and high-blood pressure, so taking the Abaco Neem oils is a safer and better-tasting alternative to pharmaceuticals, and can be found throughout the island of New Providence, because it’s just that good!

Vendor Locations: Solomon’s Fresh Market, Cole Thompson Pharmacy, Lowe’s Pharmacy, Pasion Tea & Coffee Company

More Info: (242) 322-2222 / Facebook / Website


 

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