West Indian Bay Leaf Tea: Recipe And Benefits


West Indian bay leaf tea is one of those exotic, unique teas.

It tastes like cinnamon, clove, allspice and nutmeg all mixed together.

Can you imagine all those flavors in one tea? Yum!

West Indian bay leaves are the secret ingredient in many Caribbean dishes.

From stews, and sweets to the popular Christmas drink, sorrel.

West Indian Bay vs Bay Laurel

Now, bay is a pretty common name for a few different plants.

You’ll see:

  • Bay laurel or sweet bay (whose Latin name is Laurus nobilis) is used for its unique flavor in soups, stews, and other Mediterranean recipes.
  • Indian bay (Latin name: Cinnamomum tamala) has a strong cinnamon smell and taste.
  • West Indian bay (Latin name: Pimenta racemosa) has a much stronger smell and fragrance than the other two. It is also called bay rum or ciliment.

Sometimes, it is mistakenly called allspice (Latin name: Pimenta dioica). Yes, they are from the same genus (Pimenta) but they are two unique plants. This article explains their difference.

Besides cooking, West Indian bay leaves are used to make bay rum and cologne. Bay rum works wonders for sore, painful muscles.

The leaves also have repellent benefits: bugs hate the stuff! There are actually a couple bay leaves in my cupboards right now. My mom even adds it to rice and flour to prevent tiny bugs and weevil from getting in.

The leaves work. They’re all natural insect repellents.

West Indian Bay Leaf Tea

Like lemongrass, I have a bay leaf tree in my garden! It’s a neat little thing, isn’t it?

West Indian Bay Leaf Plant

Do you see the light green leaves to the top? They are young and tea made from them has this unpleasant, menthol-like taste.

I am not a fan of it.

The darker green leaves to the bottom are much more mature. Tea made from them have a nice, cinnamon-like flavor. It’s really unique and soothing.

You can use fresh mature leaves or dried ones but I prefer the dried leaves. The tea is milder and develops a nice brown hue.

Making Bay Leaf Tea

Boil for 15 to 20 minutes; and allow to steep for another 10 minutes. The longer the tea is left to steep, the stronger and darker it will become. Sweeten with your favorites like honey.

Check out my video for all the steps. My tree certainly grew since I took the first photo a year ago.

Benefits of West Indian Bay Leaf Tea

Is bay leaf tea good for you? Are benefits of drinking bay leaf tea?

Well, a couple studies have tried to answer these questions.

This 2004 animal study found the tea had pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory benefits.

This one from 2018 discussed the more traditional uses of the tea. It found the tea is traditionally used to treat:

  • gastric disorder
  • osteoarthritis
  • rheumatism
  • colds
  • fever
  • painful muscles

It also emphasized the tea’s pain and inflammation reducing benefits.

By the way, bay essential oil has also shown tremendous antimicrobial, insecticidal and repellent activity. The essential oil is powerful stuff!

Bay Leaf Tea Recipe

Easy West Indian Bay Leaf Tea Recipe

This tea has a great flavor profile with notes of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and allspice. It can be made with fresh or dried leaves in under an hour.
Cook Time15 mins
Steep Time10 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Caribbean
Keyword: bay leaf tea, West Indian bay leaf tea
Servings: 2 people
Author: Ros

Ingredients

  • 6 bay leaves (mature)
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • sweetener (like honey)

Instructions

  • Wash leaves.
  • Add to boiling water and leave for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Turn off heat and let steep for another 10 minutes for a strong, dark tea.
  • Add your favorite sweetener and serve hot or cold.

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2 thoughts on “West Indian Bay Leaf Tea: Recipe And Benefits

  1. I am very confused. I read that unless you use Laurel Bay for making tea, it can be toxic. Is that true? Do you use Laurel Bay for making tea? If so, do you have a link for me to order some?

    1. You can use bay laurel; but this is West Indian bay leaf. I’ve seen reports of ingesting the leaves themselves can be toxic but here in the Caribbean, we brew the tea and add it to soups, stews, and more. The leaves stay whole while cooking and are removed before serving the food.

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