I asked him what trees he used: "I
ain't ger tell you that," he replied smiling. "That
one special secret." He picked up a recycled rum bottle,
unscrewed the metal cap and passed it across. "Try
that," he said. The liquid inside smelled like muddy water.
I didn't dare taste it. He then told me how he boiled the nine
roots for two and a half hours to get the 'strength' out of the
plants. He suggests the tea is mixed with six raw eggs, a tin of
condensed milk, and one teaspoon of nutmeg before being drunk.
This mixture, he told me, should be taken three times a day for
a 'good old flushing out'.
We talked for a while, and I told him
about some local plants I knew with medicinal properties. We had
found common ground. As a Biologist, I had read about many of
the plants that Rev. Thompson used in his tea. As our
conversation continued he opened up, telling me about several of
the trees he had previously kept 'secret'. After an hour, he had
even agreed to come out collecting plants with me.
So what is 'Bush Tea'? Different versions
of Bush Tea are found all around the world. Before modern
medicine was invented, people in every country used local plants
to cure their health problems. People believed these medicines
would work, and they often did! Sometimes they worked because
people believed in them and sometimes they worked because
they actually contained a drug that cured the condition. Many of
our modern drugs have been developed from plants that have been
used for thousands of years as herbal remedies.
There is a lot to be learned from Herbal
Several days later, I went with the Rev
Thompson into the bush to dig up some roots. I guessed many of
the plants he would use, but some were a complete surprise. I
think though, he collected a few more than he needed - just so I
wouldn't work out his secret 'nine trees' recipe. I noticed he
also collected rather a lot of leaves and bark as well.
As we walked through the coppice, he told
me what the various plants were used for. Some had quite unusual
and even unprintable names - depending on the part of the body
they affected! We returned with boxes of leaves, bark and root,
enough to make many gallons of bush tea. When we parted he
insisted I take a bottle of his strongest brew.
I never could bring myself to take the
bush tea. I'm afraid in the end it went down the drain. A week
or so later, I caught a tropical fever. As I lay in bed feeling
most unwell, I wondered what would have happened if I had taken
the tonic. Would I have still caught the fever, or as the Rev
Thompson had told me that day in his shack, would my 'good old
body be jumping for joy.'
I guess I will never know!