Updated: Dec 2, 2021
Endemic to Europe and Asia, cleavers now grow all over the world. It has been used in multiple civilisations to treat various diseases. It was also mentioned in the De materia medica, written by the Greek physician Pedanius Dioscorides in the 1st-century ad. Dioscorides said that the herb clings onto clothing and even shepherds use it as a strainer for milk to remove the hair in it. This tradition still continues today in some countries. The close-up photo below shows its stick leaves, this property also gives the herb another name ‘Stickyweed’.
In Turkish, we call this plant ‘Yoğurt otu’ which means ‘yoghurt herb’. This is because it was used to make cheese in the past. Apparently, its Latin ‘Galium’ comes from ‘gala’ which means ‘milk’.
Dioscorides also talks about the juice that is extracted from the leaves of the seed, twigs and leaves of cleavers. According to his book, this liquid when taken with ‘wine’ (yes because in the 1st-century ad. wine as common as water in Europe) helps to ease the symptoms of spider and snake bites even those which are poisonous.
Native American tribes used this herb to promote kidney health, and according to this resource, cleaver tea is used for the treatment of kidney stones nowadays too.
I had expectations that its tea would taste like milk or yoghurt, but it is definitely not the case. Its taste is also another source of motivation for drinking it. Mellow with floral notes. I had no vegetal notes or astringency.
Type: Tisane (non-tea)
Harvest time: 2020
Leave colour: Yellow and green stems
Liquor colour: Amber
Tea aroma: Floral
Tea taste: Clean and refreshing
Steeping/brewing: Boil a pot of water and infuse 3 gr of cleavers tea for 3-5 minutes.
Shelf life: Up to 2 years (the freshest the better)