Lime (Linden) Flowers Tilia species
There are 3 species of Linden (Lime) in the UK; small-leaved, large-leaved and common. All Linden (Lime) flowers can be used but small-leaved (Tilia cordata) have the best; being the most fragrant. Linden tea has been enjoyed for centuries but is more popular in France where it is known as tilleul tea. In addition to the flowers, the leaves are edible when they are young and pale green and can be used in salads.
What to look for:
Linden trees all have glossy heart shaped leaves which emerge in late spring. The pale yellow /green flowers have a distinctive wing like bract-leaf on the flower stem and a sweet honey fragrance. The flowers are much sought by bees and Lime flower honey is regarded as being amongst the best in the world.
Where to find it:
Often planted in avenues and alongside roads in towns. They can also be found in parks, hedgerows and car parks.
When is it about:
The leaves are best enjoyed in early May. The flowers can be found from mid June until the end of July.
Linden Flower Tea
A small handful of dried Linden (Lime) flowers per person
Slice of lemon or a little honey (optional)
The flowers (including the bracts) should be gathered while in full bloom and laid out to dry in a flat basket or tray in a warm place (but out of the sun) for a week or so before use. When dry store in a caddy or glass jar away from strong sunlight.
Pour hot water (80C – 90C) onto the lime flowers. Infuse for 5 – 10 minutes, strain and serve.
Add a slice of lemon or honey (or both!) if desired.
Lime tea has a lovely, honey scented flavour and is said to be relaxing and to have a mild soporific effect.
Folk tales tell of the danger of falling asleep under a Linden tree in full bloom; those foolish enough to do so (as the story goes) might never wake up!
Note: Do not eat any wild foods unless you are 100% certain about your identification.