PAYSON There's plenty of information about the kind of tea early Utah settlers drank.
The tea may have passed through some of the tea sets at the Peteetneet Academy. The most common, "Mormon tea," came from "a branched broomlike shrub growing up to four feet tall, with slender, jointed stems. The leaves are reduced to scales and grow in opposite pairs or whorls of three and are fused for half their length. Male and female flowers are borne on separate plants in conelike structures. They are followed by small brown to black seeds."
Other common names included: "Brigham tea," "cowboy tea," "squaw tea" and "canyon tea."
The plant is in the Gnetaceae Genus Ephedra family. While it is a source of ephedra, it doesn't violate the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Word of Wisdom. When the whole plant was used, no negative side effects were reported. In recent years, however, extracted ephedra has led to serious health problems.
Ephedra from the plant, which is found in the southwestern United States, isn't as potent as that from China and India. American Indians drank it to help stop bleeding.
The early settlers placed a handful of the stems in boiling water for each cup. After they removed the concoction from heat they would let it steep. Sometimes they sweetened it with sugar or jam.
Other settlers brewed a strong tea from the plant to treat syphilis and other venereal diseases and as a tonic.
Seeds from the plant were ground as bitter meal or used to flavor bread dough.
Known effects include:
a stimulus to the central nervous system
increased blood pressure
increased heart rate
increased urine to dispose of excess body fluid