A flowering buchu plant
The herbal plant buchu was used by the first by the indigenous people of South Africa, the Khoi San, to make herbal remedies. It has been hundreds of years since then, and still buchu is recognised for its amazing healing and therapeutic properties. Today it has found its way into some interesting, delicious and healthy culinary creations.
By far the most common incarnation of buchu, buchu tea has all the natural minty, blackcurrant flavour of the herb itself, and all the health benefits too. It’s used to treat colds, flu, stomach ache, bladder infections, rheumatism, muscular cramps and inflammation.
Cape Kingdom Nutraceuticals produces a Detox Tea range which combines Buchu with other beneficial and tasty combinations such as Green Rooibos, Cinnamon and Ginger. Simply place a teabag in a cup and cover with freshly boiled water. Allow 4-5 minutes for all the goodness to infuse the water. Add some honey to taste. You can also choose to wait for the tea to cool so you can enjoy Buchu as an iced tea on a warm day. Buchu tea is now available commercially, through retail chains like Pick ‘n Pay and Food Lovers Market. Cold buchu drinks are available commercially too – Buchulife offers natural and flavoured buchu herbal water drinks.
Buchu brandy is a perfect herbal pick me up. It’s as easy to make as it is delicious. All you need to do is to leave a few sprigs of buchu to steep in a bottle of your favourite brandy. The longer you leave the buchu in the brandy, the stronger the buchu flavour will be. For the more adventurous, also try adding some lavender or thyme. You can get a prepacked kit for buchu brandy here.
Buchu and grapefruit smoothie
A buchu and grapefruit smoothie is a tasty, refreshing drink that will help you stave off the sniffles and sneezes in the winter months. It’s full of the goodness of “superfruits” like grapefruit and goji berry, and of course the mighty buchu plant. To make the smoothie, simply blend the following ingredients:
- one large grapefruit
- one to two sweet citrus fruits, such as oranges
- ½ cup of goji berries
- 1 tablespoon buchu leaves
- Splash of water (or 3 ice blocks on a warmer day)
- Dash of coconut oil
For extra sweetness, you may choose to add more sweet citrus or a teaspoon or two of honey.
Lemon buchu yoghurt dressing
This subtle but delicious dressing is excellent with roast vegetables. To make the dressing, you’ll need these ingredients:
- 1 cup full-cream yoghurt
- Juice of ½ a lemon
- Finely chopped leaves of two sprigs of fresh buchu
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- A dash of white wine
To make the dressing, first combine the chopped buchu with the yoghurt, and then add the olive oil and lemon juice. Add white wine a little at a time just to get the desired consistency. Careful not to add too much wine or it could overpower the subtle flavours.
Although buchu isn’t known for being particularly sweet, the flavours come through wonderfully in this unique shortbread.
- 200 ml sugar
- 470 g butter (salted)
- 5 cups flour
- Powdered buchu leaves or a few drops of buchu essence
- ½ cup castor sugar
To make the shortbread, cream the sugar and butter with the buchu powder or essence. Add the sifted flour and combine. Press the dough into a baking tray, prick all over and bake in an oven preheated to 160˚C for about 35 minutes. After removing from the oven, sprinkle the shortbread with castor sugar and cut it into squares or strips while it’s still hot. Allow it to cool and enjoy it with some tea – buchu tea for extra points!