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Te Plants In Spain: Ethnobotany And Pharmacology

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Tea has long been a part of our human culture. For centuries, people have been drinking tea either as a means of its health benefits, or simply as an activity to take on with friends and family. The Spanish word tй comes from the Chinese tscha (as does the English "tea"). This Chinese word stems from the original tea drink made from Camellia sinensis (Santayana et al., 2004). Tea eventually made its way from Asia to Europe by way of the East India Company, and has been adopted by Spain ever since. Currently the Spanish word tй has expanded to include many more species of plants across a wide range of families. The most popular species of tй in Spain include Jasonia glutinosa, Sideritis hyssopifolia, and Bidens aurea. Out of all the wild growing species of tй in Spain, the most consumed is Jasonia glutinosa (Santayana et al., 2004). In this paper I will discuss the most widely used tй, as well as some of the common medicinal, and ethno-botanical properties associated with this diverse group of plants.

Jasonia glutinosa is without doubt the most popular tea in all of Spain. Many consider it a delicacy served in fine restaurants, while others prefer it as a cold infusion served over ice. Jasonia glutinosa is gathered in July or August when the plant is flowering. The top flowering part of the plant is collected and dried to be used as a tea. Bermejo et al (1995, as cited in Santayana et al., 2004) found that this tea contains specific phenolic acids derived from caffeic acid, flavinoids, and essential oils. These compounds have been widely used throughout the region to help digestive disorders as well as colds, depression, and even to assist with whitening the teeth.

Another widely used tй in Spain is Sideritis hyssopifolia. This plant, although not as widespread as others, is extremely popular within the regions it is found. An infusion of the infloresences is taken to aid with stomach problems associated with difficult digestion. Mostly this tea is consumed following breakfast, or as a social beverage with friends and family. Also, a herbal liquor is created from the plant by distilling



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