Processed Mongolian tea ready to store

Mongolian tea is naturally, on plant, fermented leaves of Bergenia crassifolia (syn. Bergenia cordifolia). It is used in Mongolia and Siberia, where Bergenia crassifolia grows in the wild. The leaves are collected when the snow melts in the spring.

Bergenia crassifolia, flowers in may

Bergenia crassifolia is quite a common perennial in older european gardens. It is green all winter. My Bergenia crassifolia comes from my grandparents’ cottage garden. They had a large bed with it, and my mother could remember the plants from before 1930. The bed is still there – the cottage replaced with a modern comfortable house.

The withered brown leaves harvested in winter

In Siberia and Mongolia is not unusual to drink mongolian tea. I can remember the taste. I definitely got this tea served in Siberia, thinking it was ordinary chinese black tea. Nobody told me I was wrong. The taste is gentle and pleasant.

To make your own mongolian tea, collect leaves blackened over the winter. I have noticed that in cold winters it is good to wait until the beginning of March. In mild rainy winters, I find the taste best when collecting leaves earlier, sometime in January. The crucial for harvest time decision, is how far the natural fermentation has progressed. I look into the bed from time to time during winter.

When leaves are collected, I wash off dirt, chop and dried them. They easily dry on a tray indoors. Quality is not affected by a prolonged drying time, as are so many other products for drying.

A nice cup of mongolian tea

The mongolian tea is infused like regular black tea. However, one might consider using more tea leaves than usual, to enrich taste and colour. You can infuse the same leaves two or three times, before the taste gets insipid.

Do you want to know more, please search on “Бадан толстолистный”, and translate with Google, babel fish, etc.
Eg. I found out:
When growing, expect to harvest 3-4.5 tonnes of dried leaves per. hectare. The leaves can be harvested from the third year after planting. The area can be harvested 8-10 years or longer.
The thick rhizomes are edible, after a thorough leaching – I found no recipe.