Labrador Tea
(Rhododendron groenlandicum)

  • Parts used: Leaves and flowering tops.
  • Aroma & taste: Spicy aroma and bitter-sweet taste.
  • Brewing method: Wild rosemary is used in beer for
    it's pleasantly fresh and spicy aroma, its bitter taste and also
    its enjoyable narcotic properties. It should not be used in excess
    as it is somewhat toxic and can cause headaches. The flowering tops
    have Ledum oil, which has the strongest inebriating effects. Traditional
    beer recipes specifically call for fresh flowering tops, which indicates
    that ancient brewers knew of this increased potency and were
    specifically attempting to enhance their beers.


Labrador tea is the Northamerican conterpart of Marsh rosemary.

Marsh rosemary has long been referred to as Ledum Palustre L.. As it has recently been discovered that Ledum Palustre L. belongs to the Rhododendron family, it's latin nomenclature has also changed to Rhododendron tomentosum Harmaja. This species actually does not occur in North America (though extends to the easternmost fringes of Asia).

Three species of the Ledum group of Rhododendron occur in North America and of these Rhododendron groenlandicum, Labrador Tea, which used to be known Ledum groenlandicum. Labrador tea has a long history of use amongst First Nations and is now used in gruit recipes as an alternative to Marsh rosemary.


It is in leaf all year, in flower from April to June. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees. It is noted for attracting wildlife.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. The plant prefers acid soils and can grow in very acid soil. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist or wet soil.