Hyssop is renown from early times as a holy herb for cleansing and purification of temples and other holy places. Hyssop today is primarily used as a tea or as a gargle. It is often combined with horehound herb.
Hyssopus officinalis L.
The mint family (Laminaceae) is one of the most prolific when it comes to fragrant, flavorful and healing herbs with members like lavender, peppermint, catnip, lemon balm, basil, rosemary, sage, savory, oregano and thyme.
Hyssop, like most other members of this family has square stems and clusters of whorled flowers along the upper part of the stem. Hyssop is a small, shrubby perennial with blue-purple flowers and a weak fragrance. Harvest is done by cutting the herb close to the ground to prevent the plant from becoming too woody.
Hyssop has a strong, bitter and herbaceous flavor. It originated in the Mediterranean area, but it's hardy and easy to grow and is cultivated in Europe, Asia and North America. It attracts bees, and a specialty hyssop honey can sometimes be found in European shops.
Constituents of Note: Hyssop contains .3 to 1% essential oil, 5 to 8% tannins, hyssopin (a flavonoid) and marrubin, a bitter substance also found in horehound.
Quality: Hyssop herb consists of the flowering tops of the plant; only a small amount of woody stem present in the herb. The presence of blue-purple flowers but no seeds capsules shows the hyssop was harvested at the proper time. The flavor of hyssop herb is bitter and herbaceous with a hint of camphor.
Regulatory Status: GRAS (Title 21 182.10 and 182.20), Dietary Supplement
Did you know? In the garden, hyssop is said to be a good companion plant to broccoli and cabbage as it attracts cabbage moths and lures them away from the crop.
Directions: To make an infusion, pour one cup boiling water over 1 teaspoon of hyssop herb and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Sweeten with honey if desired.
Suggested Uses: Hyssop is used as a tea and is often combined with horehound. An effective, but more pleasant tasting tea, can be made using 1/3 hyssop herb, 1/3 horehound herb and 1/3 peppermint leaf, sweetened to taste with honey.
Hyssop herb is also sometimes use to make a gargle to sooth the throat.
As a bitter, it is said to promote the appetite.
Caution/Safety: The Botanical Safety Handbook* classifies hyssop as:
Class:2b not to be used during pregnancy
*Michael McGuffin, ed., American Herbal Products Association's Botanical Safety Handbook, (New York: CRC Press, 1997)
Our hyssop is grown in the Mediterranean-like climate of Argentina.
Meet Our Grower: Hyssop grows lushly on at farm of our Well Earth supplier in Argentina. It is plant in dense rows and our supplier is experimenting with closer spacing of the rows to help shade the soil and reduce weeds. Cultivation is accomplishing using both a tiller and hand-weeding. The hyssop is machine cut close to the ground when it starts to flower. The hyssop branches are then arranged by hand onto drying racks which are then stacked in the dryer.