Linden (aka lime flowers, tilleul, lipa)

Many years ago (okay, decades actually) I lived in France and enjoyed tilleul tea. When I came back to the States I realized we called it linden, but I still didn’t really know what it was.  It’s been a long time since I’ve had linden tea or even thought about it for that matter, but on a recent trip to Prague I saw beautiful rows of trees laden with delicate yellow flowers that smelled sweet as honey. When I asked our local guide about them, she explained that they were linden trees (also known as lime trees, not to be confused with trees that grow limes) from which the French make their tilleul tea.

Apparently, linden trees are the national tree of the Czech Republic, although they grow in many parts of Europe and North America. The Czech word for linden is “lipa,” so I immediately began looking for lipa tea to bring home as a souvenir gift from my trip. One day, we walked right by a marvelous tea shop, so I stepped inside:

What fun! I could have spent quite a bit of time here, but it was the end of a long, hot afternoon, so I quickly asked about lipa tea and made a happy purchase for myself and some other lucky person (if I don’t keep the extra bag).

I feel like I now have an authentic Czech souvenir–the only problem is that it won’t last long! Luckily there are places in the States that sell linden tea, so maybe I’ll just reuse my Czech bag.

In the meantime, I’m enjoying this tea not only for the memories of Prague, but also for the many health benefits it provides. Linden flowers, leaves, and bark come from the tree, tilia platyphyllos, and have been used medicinally for centuries for:

  • Relaxation: Soothes nerves, headaches (especially migraines), nervousness, and restlessness; natural sleep aid.
  • Indigestion: Especially stomach issues (cramps, nausea, and vomiting) caused by nervousness or stress; soothes the entire digestive tract; relieves spasms and flatulence.
  • Detox: Supports liver, gall bladder, and urinary tract (diuretic).
  • Colds and flu: Soothes sore throats and coughs; opens nasal passages; induces sweat to cool off the body during a fever.

Other purported benefits of linden include cardiovascular support (lowering high blood pressure, reducing heart palpitations, and preventing buildup of plaque in arteries), prevention of morning and/or motion sickness, relief from menstrual cramps and perimenopause symptoms, reduction of joint pain and swelling when applied externally (with compresses or cotton balls on eyes), and it has antifungal properties as well.

Because of all these health benefits, linden is used in blends for a variety of desired outcomes, like sleep, cold and flu relief, and digestive aid. It is often combined in equal parts with chamomile as a general tonic for all of the above-mentioned issues. Combine equal parts of linden flowers, chamomile, and elder blossoms for colds, flu, and fever.

As with all herbs, you should always check with your doctor especially if you have health issues, are on medication, or are pregnant or nursing. It is typically advised to drink 1 to 3 cups a day, but not for extended periods of time.

Finally, if you ever get a chance, go to Prague in early June when the linden trees are in bloom along the Vltava River and tell them I sent you!

Copyright © by Bobbi Mullins, published June 21, 2019

Grieve. A Modern Herbal (©1931)
Tierra. The Way of Herbs (©1980)
Schreibman-Gehring, B. Linden Sends Soft Sleep. Aug. 15, 2018.
Linden Tea, The Healing Nectar.




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