An informal and impromptu tea party was held for the summer staff of Spencer Hall today, featuring tea made from the freshly picked flowers of a linden tree only several hundred meters away. Guests were treated to a taste of this sweet yet subtle brew and informed of its many medicinal qualities, one of these being the relief of anxiety (who couldn’t use that on a Friday afternoon?).
Linden trees, also known as basswood or lime trees, grow in temperate northern climates and have been used in European herbal remedies for centuries. The flowers of Tilia cordata, the little-leafed linden, were historically used to soothe nerves, to treat indigestion and headaches, to relieve cough and cold symptoms, and to promote sweating, among other things. This species, the highlight of today’s tea party, is one of Sewanee’s two linden species, the other being Tilia americana, the American basswood.
Aside from tea, linden trees are prized for a variety of other reasons. They grow successfully in urban areas, perhaps most famously in Berlin’s “Unter den Linden,” and their wood is soft and easily worked into intricate carvings. The fibrous inner bark of the tree, known as bast, was used by prehistoric Northern Europeans to make a type of basket-like footwear. Today, charcoal from basswood is used in gastric treatments, and linden flowers are still commonly found in many cough and cold remedies.
So, whatever your ailment may be, don’t sweat it (or do, in this case)! Visit one of Sewanee’s beautiful linden trees, which will bloom through June and July, and brew up a cup of biodiversity.