A Bitter Brew

Wood Sage
Wood Sage

Wood Sage, Sage Leaved Germander, Hindheal, Ambroise or Garlic Sage, what’s in a name? Well, here I must thank the kind people of Wild About Britain, without their help I wouldn’t have any idea what its name is. Whenever Google and I reach the end of out tethers, that’s where I go for assistance. Wood Sage is another one of those plants that contains poisons, in this case chemicals that cause liver damage. So, naturally we use it to flavour all sorts of food and drinks. We just can’t resist living on the edge, can we?

The Italians have just nagged the European Union into upping the limit of the teucrin from our Wood Sage, allowed in drinks. It is the main flavouring used in Vermouth and Tonic waters, if the EU is going to insist on keeping it down to safe levels, the Italian drinks industry will suffer.

You can use it instead of Hops to give beer its bitter taste too. It is said to help the beer to clear quicker than Hops does but it makes the beer darker.

Mrs Grieve, in 1936, noted that Culpepper suggested it be used to clean old wounds or bruises – no issues there – but also as an appetizer and a tonic. A glass of Vermouth, perhaps? Mrs Grieve also mentions that the leaves can be dried and a snuff made from them.

So rub it on the outside, drink it for the insides, or if all else fails – stick it up your nose.