Saturday, September 17, 2011

Urban Herb #2 - Fennel Seed

All over the garden plants are going to seed. One of them happens to be this large, healthy fennel plant by my front door.

The Plant.

The Seeds.

I've always liked fennel seeds but I never thought about drinking them. In fact I used to wonder why, back when I worked at Teacup, random people would occasionally ask me if we sold "fennel seed tea." We didn't, so I would redirect them to a health food store or other local apothecary.

I did a little research and found out that fennel seed is considered a "carminative," which according to wikipedia is "a herb or preparation that either prevents formation of gas in the gastrointestinal tract or facilitates the expulsion of said gas, thereby combating flatulence." (As an adult-vegan-male I found this tidbit particularly interesting.)

Because of all this I've decided to feature fennel seed tea as this month's "Urban Herb."

I picked off a few umbels of fresh young seeds and put them in a small gaiwan. I bruised them slightly with my fingers and then poured in boiling water. I let them steep for five minutes.

Seconds before the steep.

The resulting herbal infusion was a light pale yellow color with an intense fennel aroma. I sipped it and found it to be quite pleasant. It was surprisingly mellow in my mouth, I might even say that it was a little bit too weak for me. It had a licorice-like sweetness and vibrant mouth-feel. It was very one dimensional but I'd say if you're into this particular flavor you'd probably really enjoy it.

... and as for the infusion's carminative effect? Let's just say I haven't farted in a week and I'm now beginning to worry!

Ha... just kidding... I'm really not sure if it did anything at all.


Lelia said...

Well, you are starting out on a brave adventure to brew up your back yard. I look at mine and it is pretty scary to think about putting any of that in my mouth...even with spring water. Or maybe you know your plants better than me. Thanks, Dragon

Alex Zorach said...

Haha! I love fennel; in San Diego, it was almost ubiquitous as a wild, escaped plant.

Here in PA I've seen it seed itself; although it survives the winter, it tends to get out-competed in the growing season by a lot of other plants.

I have never thought of steeping it in a tea-like manner, but I can see this working very well...after all, many blends include licorice and other plants with a similar aroma.