Friday, May 15, 2009

The Bush Tea Calypso

We talked previously about Calypso music and how there are different kinds, and most of it, except for Soca, which is primarily dance music, focuses on the story told in the song.

A while back, I ran across the old sketch below with a Calypso about Bush Tea, which is definitely an important part of the islands' culture. Bush Tea is derived from, yes BUSHES! Bushes that grow wild all over the islands, but particularly of course, in the more wooded areas. I have however, seen people picking bushes from the side of the road. Of course, you really have to know what you're doing, for example the difference between Lemon Grass and regular grass.

During Carnival, at certain times there are restaurants serving free Bush Tea.

There are said to be approximately 400 varieties of Bush Tea, but what makes it special is that most are considered medicinal. As a matter of fact, some years back there was an elderly gentleman on a local television talk show who was supposed to have more knowledge about the teas than anyone still living, and I believe he said he knew hundreds of varieties; and what medicinal purpose each should be used for ... whether preventative or curative.

What was interesting was that this man refused to teach anyone what he knew, including his son, who he said wasn't really interested. Unfortunately, that meant his knowledge would leave the earth with him. I hope someone broke down his resolve and got the information before it was too late. In any case, even if no one did, today there are people who have extensive knowledge of Bush Teas.

Here is the Calypso:

She had her dress tied up over her waist
And was wriggling down the street
She had on a pair of old slaps on her feet
Just then she started to name the different weeds

And I really was more than glad
Although I can't remember all
that she called
These are a few she had:

She had pap bush, elder bush,
black pepper bush
Then soldier, corporal and carpadulla
Fabian leaf, money bush, soldier posely
Pumpkin blossom and even devil doer.
Demon Congo, grass in galore
Physic nut, and lily root
In fact the only bush she didn't have
Was the bush for everyday soup.
Author Anonymous

Is it possible to purchase Bush Tea outside of the Virgin Islands? You bet. Check out:

The adventures ... and misadventures of a city slicker turned mellow islander.