Virginia Barton

23 May 2015: Tea for two


23 May 2015


There are very few places in Vilnius where you may be served Honey and Buckthorn Tea. Possibly only one: Kepyklele, a classy cafe (meaning the Little Bakery or La Petite Boulangerie) in Pilies Gatve (Castle Street).

Yes, lots of foreign words but then we are Abroad.


buckthornHave you ever had Buckthorn tea? Neither have I, but Best Niece, who was my escort and guardian angel on the late great Breakaway, became enamoured of it and slipped a little jar of it into my homebound luggage. Buckthorn (right), which I have always associated with the sea as a sort of wind-blasted shrub, has berries that are crammed with vitamins.

The tea (wait for it): Medaus arbata su saltankiais is a valuable antidote to sore throat and colds. Children are cozened into drinking quantities of it at the slightest sniff. It’s scarcity contributes to its legendary healing qualities – although I dare say in the countryside it is a common home-made remedy.


In the old days nothing was wasted; what you couldn’t eat went to the pig or onto the land. How about tapping your birch trees when the sap is rising (as one does rubber in the East) for the flavouring of vodka? The wholesale tipping, chucking, binning, and throwing-out makes one wince with despair, and one day it will catch up with society which will then groan with “If only’s…”

Rural communities know the value of stuff; it is we townsfolk who have become so disgracefully profligate.


IMG_0455Enough soap boxing. Best Niece took quite a shine to the orange-coloured tea. It is served neat in a tiny glass, alongside a cup of hot water on a saucer with a teaspoon. The water temperature should not exceed 40 degrees C to ensure maximum benefit of the vitamin content.

Shamingly, I was on broth that day, having overeaten the day before…

However, I have my little jar and am now waiting for a sore throat to see if it works. Here it is, nestling in a convenient hollow made in a lavender bush where the bally pigeon squats, waiting for fallout from the feeder above.

The killer instinct is roused in me when I see that pigeon.





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