Monday, June 14, 2010

Harvesting for a Herbal Drink

This is what locals called Fly's Wings (Kummerowia striata) or Japanese Clover and of of the pea family. It has small pink flowers and is a fairly invasive plant - a weed to some and a herb to others. We are not going to talk about the weed aspect of this plant.

This is a close-up of the plant.

As a kid, I frequently followed my mum during her forays to various empty overgrown lots of land and along ditches. This "Fly''s Wings" was one of the plant she was looking and we would go home with a huge bundle of the whole plant - roots and all.

Well, at the back of my garden, we have it that is growing all over the place and I harvest it once a month before the mowing take place!

The latest harvest just in - the whole lot was dumped into a huge basin of water and painstakingly washed of the soil. All other extraneous plant materials were also removed. The lot was rinsed with clean water a couple of times and the herb will be ready.

In the past, even though we have a huge family, the amount of herb my mother collected is so much that she can use some to prepare the herbal drink for the day as well as preparing large number of small bundles of the herbs to dry for storage.

Making the drink is easy - take one or two bundles and add 3 litres of water. Boil at low fire for an hour or so. There - you have it. There is a nice floral fragrance to the drink and it taste "gan" (Chinese for pleasant/sweet (?) - I just do not have the right English word to explain this specific Chinese tasting term! - possiblly sweet with a trace of liquorice?). I prefer it hot without added sugar but some people do like it with sugar and ice-cold!

As we are slowly establishing the garden and with regular mowing, there is little chance for this lovely plant to thrive. So I have turned a long one-foot wide strip of the garden against the back wall were this plant can grow freely - to ensure a steady supply of this useful herb!

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