Hierbabuena Tea Remedy

Nicolas Estrada is a Mexican-American lawyer working in the greater Los Angeles area. His parents immigrated to the United States from Mexico before he and his sister were born. They settled in Southern California and quickly began to assimilate to the new culture. Nicolas’ parents imparted both Mexican and “American” customs to him and his sister but placed a stronger emphasis on American culture; for example, they taught Nicolas Spanish, but encouraged him to speak only English in public. This strong emphasis on assimilation influenced Nicolas’ relationship with Mexican culture, but he can still recall some Mexican traditions that were practiced in his home. In the excerpt below, Nicolas describes one of the herbal remedies his mother would use to treat upset stomachs:

Nicolas: “My mother would brew different teas instead of going directly to store-bought medicine… if we ever had upset stomachs, she would make us hierbabuena tea… it was a mint tea. My mom told us it had healing properties.”

Isabella: “How would your mom prepare the tea?”

Nicolas: “She would steep the tea leaves in a pot of hot water and then we would drink it without any milk or sugar. We would only drink the tea in the morning or mid-day, though… never in the evening because it would keep us up. I honestly think it works and I still drink mint tea to this day… although I buy already prepared tea bags instead of steeping the leaves.”

Here, Nicolas describes an alternate form of treatment used in place of traditional medication. His mother was more confident in this herbal remedy because it had cultural significance and was endorsed by other members of her family. The hierbabuena tea remedy is an example of a folkloric remedy for these very reasons; while the medical community doesn’t officially endorse the treatment as an effective means of relieving stomach aches, it is still widely used throughout Mexico—and as Nicolas demonstrates here with his anecdote, it has been exported to different countries.