Ephedra nevadensis Wats
A stunted shrub with green twigs on woody stems. It is known by many names,
Desert Tea, Joint Fur, Mexican Tea, Popotillo, Brigham Tea.
A tea that has been used since ancient Aztec times here in the south-west. It is used for colds, fever, headache, for a decongestant and asthma remedy, as a diuretic and for internal troubles. It is also consumed to relieve rheumatic and arthritic pains. The dried and powdered twigs were used for poultices and ointments for sores.
I gather the woody stems and twigs of the bush early in the spring. It has been used as a
spring tonic for hundreds of years
(I bet it cures the dreaded Spring Fever).
It can be harvested and used fresh. We collect large branches in the spring or early summer and place them in a paper grocery sack, tye the sack tight around the woody stems, and hang in the pump house to dry. The tea is used all year long. It is a sweet, pleasant tasting tea.
To make the tea, strip the green "leaves" or twigs from the woody stem. This tea needs to boil to extract the healing properties. I simmer about 10 minutes and then let it steep for 10-20 mins. reheating if necessary before drinking. Strain. Add honey. The twigs can be reused several times if desired. If you use the powdered, dried, plant form just steep as regular tea. This tea is also refreshing served cold. Make a large batch and keep it in the fridge. Serve over cubes of ice with frozen berries in them. Add a dash of raw sugar.
Aunt LIB drank this tea every day and lived a long healthy life, 96.
Her mind was sharp and she was independent to the end.
She always said it was the Brigham tea that kept her well.
Brigham tea grows in higher mountain elevations in the west.
Harvest in the spring when the plant is vibrant green, just before it blooms. It will fade in color as the year progresses and is not as effective for use.
This tea is not recommended if you have a heart ailment.