AUSTRALIAN BOTANICALS: what are they, and how do we use them?
The spectrum of flavour is vast, as are the growing regions, producing harvests of fruits, herbs and spices unlike anything elsewhere in the world.
Today, we’re seeing a renewed interest in Australian botanicals, informed by a deeper respect for Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander cultures and their connection to Country. This produce is being used to make gin, chutney, cake, biscuits - and of course, tea!
Lemon myrtle is by far the most popular and well known botanical native to Australia: its deep citrus profile is flavourful and versatile. It has the highest citral content of any plant on earth, meaning it’s high in vitamin C and boasts a big flavour. Lemon myrtle is sometimes referred to as sweet verbena or lemon ironwood, and is probably the most commonly used native botanical across Australia in recent decades. Brewing lemon myrtle tea is very easy: simply add a bunch of leaves, ground or whole, to boiling water - add a dash of honey if you want a little sweetness to contrast the bushy citrus notes. This recipe is a health tonic that has been used by Aboriginal people for thousands of
years! It’s packed full of vitamins A, C and E as well as anti fungal and
Because of its deep flavour and numerous benefits, we use lemon myrtle in a variety of our recipes: Coconut Lemon Splice pairs it with Australian sencha and coconut; Blue Water pairs it with blue pea flower and lemongrass, and Organic Ginseng Gin combines it with ginger, juniper and ginseng.
Chocolatey, nutty and savoury - wattleseed is an underrated source of protein, calcium, potassium and zinc. Wattleseed was traditionally ground into flour, and I’ve seen it whisked into eggs (specifically, Emu eggs!) and baked into a bread-like cake. Wattleseed biscuits are also a more recent staple across Australia, and by putting its chocolatey profile in a Western context, it definitely became more popular.
We tend use wattleseed in blends that lean toward chai or hot chcolate styles: our Red Wattle blend pairs it with cinnamon and rooibos; and our Sticky Bush Chai pairs it with cinnamon myrtle, native ginger and Aussie black tea. It’s deep earth flavour is often compared to chocolate, but it’s more complex: elements of coffee and black sesame come to mind - dark, rich and
velvety, its profile isn’t washed out by milk or overpowered by other ingredients.
Gulbarn is, like lemon myrtle, a sweet eucalyptus leaf. Most Gulbarn is wild harvested on Alawa Country in Arnham Land, Northern Territory, by the Alawa people. It’s a potent source of calcium, magnesium and antioxidants and is a traditional medicine for colds and upset stomachs. It has a light profile that has elements of citrus, eucalyptus and subtly fruity aroma.
Interestingly, in traditional methods, the leaves are burnt and inhaled, or added to bathing water, as a method of boosting immunity. We use gulbarn in one of our most unique blends Green Gum. We combine Australian grown sencha leaves with gulbarn and another native botanical, strawberry gum. Together, these ingredients provide a light passionfruit-like profile.
Grown in the Northern Tablelands of New South Wales and Victoria, strawberry gum is probably most famous for its anti fungal and antibiotic properties which assist in maintaining gut health. Its profile is subtle but complex: strawberry and passionfruit at the front, with light cinnamon at the back.
Traditionally, the leaves were dampened with water and laid on fire to release the oils as a way of calming an upset stomach.
As mentioned previously, we use strawberry gum’s complex profile and its many benefits in our blend Green Gum, combined with Australian sencha and native gulbarn.
Sweet, fresh and fragrant with notes of liquorice, anise myrtle is native to Bellinger and Nambucca valleys in northern New South Wales. It boasts a high antioxidant capacity as well as C and E vitamins. It’s a traditional digestive aid, and is utilised for this purpose to this day.
We use aniseed myrtle in our all Australian grown herbal blend After Dinner Mint, combining it with peppermint and liquorice root.
Native to the subtropical rainforests of the Eastern seaboard, these leaves provide a spicy aroma and flavour when rubbed, crushed or steeped. Its profile is cinnamon, nutmeg and pepper lending itself to spiced blends and recipes. Its traditional use has been attributed to culinary spice, as well as a digestive aid (like a lot of eucapltus leaves).
We use cinnamon myrtle in one of our signature chai blends - Native Bush Sticky Chai. By combining it with Aussie gown black tea, native ginger, blackbutt honey and mountain pepper, our sticky chai is unique and distinctly Australian.
MOUNTAIN PEPPER aka PEPPERBERRY
Mountain pepper, otherwise known as pepperberry, is a fruit native to south east Australia with particular provenance to Nipaluna/Tasmania. With a high antioxidant capacity and E vitamins, both the fruit and the leaves have long been used as a pepper-like condiment to spice food. The antiseptic properties of the pepperberry shrub saw Indigenous Australians use it to treat sore gums and tooth aches.
We use pepperberry in many seasonal blends, but also in our Native Bush Sticky Chai combined with cinnamon myrtle, wattleseed and blackbutt honey for a rich and complex take on chai using all Australian produce.