April Tea - Foraged Salmonberry flowers
April in the Pacific Northwest always brings a wave of blooms with it. The cherry trees burst into pink and white snow-like drifts, dandelions explode into their cheerful yellow across the landscape, and tulips, daffodils, and anemones herald the change in season. It’s a wonderful time of year for walking in the forest (let’s be honest, any time is, though) and watching different plants awaken from their slumber.
So many have sprung up lately that I’ve been experimenting with including wildflowers in my bouquets this month, ones like fringecup, Pacific bleeding heart, huckleberry, and buttercups!
One of my favorite spring flower heralds is the Pacific Northwest native, Salmonberry. It puts on dainty pink flowers that flutter like butterflies in the breeze. It’s such a joy to see them filling the forest with color and the promise of berries to come! The berries in my opinion are quite good to snack on as they ripen with the lengthening of the days, but many books call them “insipid”. You decide!
I thought I’d experiment with making a tea from the fresh flowers this year. In Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast, Pojar and Mackinnon note; “Both sprouts and berries were eaten by all northwest coast peoples. The young stem sprouts were gathered in early spring through early summer as a green vegetable by many groups…Some groups mixed the berries in oolichan grease or dried salmon spawn, and the berries were often eaten with salmon…Throughout the Northwest Coast, the ripening of salmonberries is associated with the song of Swainson’s Thrush, called ‘salmonberry bird’ in many languages.” I haven’t heard these shy birds yet this season, but their song is truly enchanting and often described as “swirling and flute-like”. Listen to it here
I only gathered up a few blossoms, after asking permission from the plants, not wanting to cut into the coming berry harvest too much. Once back home from our forest walk, I rinsed the flowers carefully and put them in my glass teapot with boiling water. I gave them a good 5 minute steep and tried them out.
They are quite vile as a tea I have to say! Somehow they have a fishy flavor which boggles my mind. Full disclosure, I poured the rest down the sink after a few sips. I’ll just stick to snacking on the berries. Luckily, I gathered up maple leaf flowers last week for drying (see last year’s post on maple leaf flower tea, which IS good) so I had a back-up foraged flower for my afternoon tea.
So, I suppose there’s not actually a tea for this month! Just a warning to not try Salmonberry flower tea and a link back to last year’s Maple Leaf flower tea! Enjoy!