2018-04-08 18.46.53…nothing good comes without a price, no pain no gain, take the good with the bad – I’m sure you’ve heard them all before, but I learnt something new this weekend. Despite the aphorism, not all roses have thorns!

I know little about horticulture and the same goes for my husband David, so our garden is pretty much a disgrace, being left to grow wild 99% of the time. The 1% that we devote to it consists of hacking away weeds or branches that prevent us from getting from front door to car door. We are definitely people more suited to enjoying beautiful landscapes than creating or maintaining them!

I am, however, far from oblivious of the plant life in our garden, and have always admired the massive bright blooms on a bush next to our driveway, particularly this time of year. More than once, David has speculated that they are roses (though he admitted to being stumped by their thornless disposition), and each time, I have expressed scepticism because (as you can see from the top image) they look nothing like conventional roses, except when they are budding (as per the photo below).

2018-04-15 14.02.14On Sunday, I was finally spurred to settle it once and for all by way of Google, and it turns out David might actually be right! Sigh! #CuetheEyeRoll

We appear to be the proud (if somewhat lackadaisical) caretakers of the Rosa Gallica Officinalis, otherwise known as the Red Rose of Lancaster, one of the eponymous emblems from medieval England’s Wars of the Roses and official county flower of Lancashire, thus making perfect sense that it should be flourishing on our little patch here in this part of the country. Doh! I could be forgiven for my ignorance, but Blackpool-born-and-bred David should have known better…tsk tsk! 😀

This damask of ancient pedigree is, when you take into account our neglect, fortunately hardy and will grow in most conditions. As mentioned previously, it has the unique honour of being among the few roses that bear little or no thorns…somewhat ironic given its place in a long history of bloodshed.

Sometimes also known as the Apothecary’s Rose, it earned that nomenclature by becoming a popular ingredient in many medicinal and cosmetic products. Various varieties of roses are today still widely used in food, perfume and skincare, including homemade preparations. The beautiful crimson blossoms in my garden have inspired me to adopt a rose theme in many of my recent ideas, and I began by experimenting with my favourite hot beverage – tea!

Full of vitamin C and antioxidants, rose tea has a reputation for having wonderful healing and restorative properties that can help slow down the signs of ageing whilst boosting immunity. It is considered to be anti-inflammatory and antibacterial, making it highly effective in treating a number of skin conditions, such as acne. Although the probiotic claim seems rather doubtful to me, roses are often listed as a part of many detox and weight-loss teas.

Edible rose petals or rose hips can be easily purchased if you haven’t got a rose bush (or if like me, you simply don’t fancy plundering too much of your own garden), and a few supermarkets even stock them. The price and quality can vary, so some shopping around may be required before you find a suitable supplier.

2018-04-15-19-24-541I’m generally pretty adventurous (especially when it comes to food) but as described above, rose tea is detoxifying, and working as a mild laxative is one of the ways it purges your body of impurities. This is great if you’re not…erm…regular, but those making this for the first time may want to keep quantities small (perhaps start with half a teaspoon) by combining the dried rose petals (lightly crushed or bruised to release the scent…I use a mortar and pestle) with something more familiar, like black or green tea. I picked the latter as I felt the light and delicate flavour of green tea would better complement the floral element of this brew.

2018-04-15-20-44-58If you’re concerned the scent of rose petals will be so overpowering that it would be like drinking perfume, worry not! Its natural fragrance is incredibly more subtle than I expected, and taste-wise this blend is more like green tea with only a very slight hint of rose. Some people like to add a bit of honey, but unless it’s black (which I take very strong, sweet and creamy), I prefer my tea unsullied.

It’s up to you how long the teabag should be left to steep…I actually didn’t remove mine as I was hoping for a more intense aroma. There’s simply no better way to enjoy a steaming hot cuppa than taking time to smell the roses.