Willow-herb / Ivan-Chay
Willow-herb, Ivan-Chay, Chamerion angustifolium, commonly known as fireweed, is a perennial herbaceous plant in the willowherb family Onagraceae. It is widespread in the northern hemisphere and can be found everywhere in Russia in the meadows and forest edges. For a long time ivan-chay is used as a tea drink or traditional medicine natural remedy.
Willow-herb leaves are very similar to tea leaves. At the beginning of the XIX century, the demand for Chinese tea in Europe and Russia had overtaken the supply. So the Russian enterprising merchants began to produce Willow-herb tea as a cheap alternative for the Chinese tea near St. Petersburg, in Koporje village. The fake tea had been widely sold not only in Russia but also abroad. The trade rose enormously and finally the falsification was revealed. So legal tea merchants asked for the official ban on the mixing “Koporsky” and Chinese tea that was signed as a law. But that was not efficient, so later Willow-herb harvesting and then even drinking were prohibited. However, there were a lot of "Russian Tea" supporters, who believed that the "national business" should be developed.
Over time, the Willow-herb / Ivan-Chay reputation has been restored, and today it is considered to be a medicinal plant. It is rich in vitamins (especially B group) and minerals (potassium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, etc.). The fireweed is a fine anti-inflammatory agent, it is successfully used as the remedy for stomach diseases, intestines and even BPH. The vitamin C content is 5-6 times higher than similar rates in lemons, and the lack of caffeine and light sedation make fireweed a wonderful soothing and relaxing drink.
Today, Willow-herb is processed according to the Chinese tea techniques. Herb leaves are withered, then left for fermentation during few hours and then roasted on the stove or in the oven. But each manufacturer has a "highlight" as the Chinese tea producers do.
Ivan-chay can be brewed in ceramic gaiwan or glass teapot. Take 5-