Latin Name: Ephedra nevadensis; (Ephedraceae)
This shrub is broom-like, resembling horsetail grass. The jointed green stems and branches of some species reach the height of 7 feet, although most are smaller. Two or three scale-like leaves grow at joints in stem and branches. Male and female cones appear on different plants, the male cones have yellow pollen sacs. Found in arid areas of the Northern Hemisphere, especially in deserts of the southwest.
It is most commonly used as a pleasant beverage & sometimes called Mormon Tea. Steep for 5 minutes. The whole herb is historically used as a decongestant & for the nervous system.
Origin: United States.
Latin Name: Ephedra nevadensis
Also known as: Mormon Tea, joint fir, Squaw tea, tick tea, desert tea, miner’s tea, teamster’s tea, Mexican tea, popotillo.
Plant Part Used: Aerial Parts.
Appearance: Light green to Tan.
Aroma: Pine like.
Taste: Pine like.
Applications / Preparations: Can be put into capsules, teas, decoction or infused as an herbal extract.
Storage: Store in a sealed container in a cool, dry place.
Shelf Life: It is very difficult to pin down an exact expiration date for most single herbs as they do not really expire, they lose potency or strength over time, but will still have value. Unlike synthetic material or drugs, herbs can contain many constituents that contribute to their medicinal effects. Even when we know what the active constituents are, there are often many of them in a single herb – each with different rates of degradation. Some herbs lose their effect more easily. Other herbs that possess more stable compounds such as alkaloids or steroids will last much longer.
A huge part of the degradation rate of herbs depends also on the storage conditions of the herb, & even on the quality of the herb before storage – how it was grown, harvested, dried & processed. If the product is left in hot places or open to sunlight then it will degrade much quicker than if it was stored in cool, dry place & sealed tightly.
A good rule of thumb is that herbs should be stored no longer than 2-3 years, but many herbs will have great strength much longer than that. To determine if a an herb is still good you can check the appearance & aroma. Herbs that are no longer acceptable will have lost much of its vibrant color & will instead appear dull & faded. The bigger key though is to smell the raw materials to see if the potent aroma is still present.