FREE DOMESTIC SHIPPING ON ORDERS OVER $39
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

What is Elderberry and What are its Benefits?

A Common Herb and Food Used as Medicine in Many Cultures

Historically, elderberry is highly valued as a medicinal herb and food in many cultures. The plant grows as a small tree or shrub and produces flowers, followed by berries. The fruit is a dark, glossy purple, which can be harvested in autumn, but varies by growing region. Interestingly, the unripe berries are mildly poisonous when unripe, but when ripe, are edible after cooking for jams and jellies, chutney, and difference sauces. Different cultivars of elderberries are planted for various purposes, particularly to use the sweet elderflowers to create wines and cordials. It is a pleasant addition to blends with a sumptuous flavor and elegant tannin structure.

Colloquially, there are many references to the elder plant dating back thousands of years. The bible makes several references to the berry, and Hans Christian Andersen mentions the tea in many fairy tales. The film Arsenic and Old Lace starring Cary Grant has a key plot line with arsenic-poisoned elderberry wine. Even modern references, such as Harry Potter, reference the Elderberry, for example the elder wand made of elderberry wood.

Traditional Benefits of Elderberry

Many practitioners of herbal medicine look to the elder tree as a pharmacy within itself. The flowers and berries are all applied in unique methods to promote wellness, whereas the shoots may be eaten and the leaves may be applied externally but the other constituents of the plant are actually toxic.

Elderberry has been used for millennia in folk remedies to aid in prevention and relief for fever and other symptoms of influenza. Clinical studies suggest that some elderberry extracts might reduce flu-like symptoms. The anthocyanidins in elderberries are thought to have immunomodulating effects and possibly anti-viral and anti-inflammatory effects. Elderberry also contains a range of vitamins, including Vitamin A, C and potassium.

Taxomy and Growth of Elderberry

The scientific name for the elder plant is Sambucus nigra and is also called elder or European elder. The species was formerly a member of the Caprifoliaceae family, also referred to as the honeysuckle family, but was moved to the smaller Adoxaceae family upon more genetic study. The shrub grows in Europe, North Africa, West Asia, the USA, and even Patagonia.

The elder tree is a wonderful shrub for the environment, as their root systems are extremely dense, which prevent erosion. Riparian Zones, or areas along waterways, are important and necessary for many species to survive. Elder plants are able to provide root and wind-blocking structure to these areas and benefit many types of wildlife. The elder species are quite robust and provide stable wildlife habitat, especially bird populations.

 Notable Tea with Elderberry

Patagonia Maqui

Patagonia Maqui

Wild-foraged maqui berry boldly lands on the palate with accents from red wine grape skins and forest berries to create a sophisticated flavor with an almost wine-like profile. Maqui berries are a prized source of antioxidants like anthocyanins and have been traditionally used by the people of the Patagonia for vitality and cleansing.

Elderberry Healer

This organic botanical blend offers a soothing, cordial-like body that highlights immune- boosting elderberry. Elderberry has been used for millennia in folk remedies and has an elegant tannin structure and sumptuous flavor. Organic ginger root fortifies the blend; organic licorice root lends a natural sweetness, while essential oil of grapefruit provides a pleasant brightness at the finish.

Blueberry Rooibos

This Rishi original highlights the robust flavor of rooibos with fruity notes of elderberries, blueberries and hibiscus to create a tart yet sweet herbal blend. Schisandra berries add a layer of aromatic complexity with wild floral notes and cranberry-like tartness.

More About Tea & Health

Tea & Mindfulness

Tea & Mindfulness

Through the ages tea has provided a source of comfort and contentment for people all over the globe.  Through trials, tribulations, good times and bad, tea remains a steadfast companion for many of us. Tea can be, and has been for millennia, an integral part of coming back to the present moment.

MORE TO DISCOVER

Black Tea

Botanicals

Green Tea

Oolong Tea

White Tea

How to Brew Tea

Tea & Health

Recipes

Education

News

Featured

Archives