HERB FOCUS : Anise Hyssop
Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum, Lamiaceae)
Parts Used: Flowering tops—leaves, stems, and flower spikes
Medicinal Preparations: Tea, tincture, infused honey, syrup, mead, herbal steam, infused vinegar
- Diaphoretic (stimulates perspiration)
- Anti-emetic (anti-nausea, anti-vomiting)
Medicinal and Culinary Uses: With a spicy-sweet aroma reminiscent of licorice, anise hyssop is a gentle remedy for coughs, colds, indigestion, insomnia, mild depression, and anxiety. I like to combine it with catnip (Nepeta cataria) and lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) in teas, as their flavors meld nicely and their medicinal uses are complementary.
Children have a special affinity for anise hyssop’s sweet flavor—it can be used to mask the more unpleasant flavors of other medicinals.
In the kitchen, try adding a few finely chopped leaves to salad, herbed goat cheese, and fruit salad for an anise-like flair. Anise hyssop can be artfully woven into all manner of confections, including ice cream, sorbet, icing, cookies, cordials, and smoothies. To infuse the flavor, you can prepare a concentrated tea if the recipe calls for water, or heat milk or butter, gently infusing the herb and then straining.
I highly recommend combining anise hyssop with black birch (Betula lenta) for a delicious root beer–flavored mead or home-fermented soda. Iced tea prepared from anise hyssop, mint (Mentha spp.), and lemon balm is divinely refreshing.