The curative power of plants was an early and critically important discovery of mankind.
Long before agrarian days, medicinal plants were gathered, crushed and eaten or brewed. Neolithic settlements, dating back 12,000 years, mark a time that mankind first began growing food and herbs, many specifically for their health benefits.
In the American Northeast and Canada indigenous peoples collectively used more than 1,000 different plants for food, medicine and clothing as well as cultural rituals.
Traditional uses of these very same plants have evolved in modern times, explains A.H. and Linda Verge, founders of Tego Tea, a functional tea made of plants native to the Eastern seaboard according to recipes handed down by the Abenaki tribe. The Abenaki are a Native American and First Nation peoples who shared the Algonquin language. They are resident in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont as well as the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec.
A.H.’s Abenaki ancestors are from Quebec. The tale of his immediate family begins with the abduction in the 1850s of his great-great-grandfather at the age of seven. The boy was held captive on a British ship bound for the Americas where young Edouard Langlais was left to fend for himself after landing in Canada. Resourceful and resilient on the streets of Quebec, he was unprepared for life in the wilderness under the care of the Abenaki. Langlais was raised by a medicine woman and as her helper learned the ways of gathering herbs and healing, says A.H. who recounted the story in his book The Little Englishman.
A.H., who was born on a dairy farm in Westfield, Vermont, is passionate about his heritage and considers himself fortunate that his grandfather retained the knowledge of native and natural ingredients used in making Tego.
Today marketers might label Tego a functional, condition-specific blend that is “on trend” like a host of new products that promise relief from many common conditions. Tego is very specific in its health claims, which A.H. says are confirmed by studies at the University of Bologna in Italy and a top pharmaceutical company. The formulation naturally helps lower and regulate blood sugar, a concern of pre-diabetic and diagnosed diabetics, he says.
The blend is patented and while he won’t disclose specifics, ingredients include blueberry, chicory root, crab apple, Fenugreek and running spruce. The recipe dates to the 1600s. When he discovered friends and family suffering from high blood sugar, he consulted his father-in-law who suggested a time-tested remedy. They gave it a try and it worked, says Linda Verge. She and A.H. founded Tego Tea Company in 2015.
“We have not only utilized the original recipes by the Abenaki but have improved upon some of them,” says Linda Verge. She relates the story of her father who was diagnosed with high blood sugar at 81. A change in diet and daily servings of Tego brought his blood test results down from dangerously high levels to normal. A local mailman avoided amputation in part due to the enhanced circulation and oxygenation from drinking Tego, she says. The tea works on young and old, citing two 21-year-olds diagnosed with type2 diabetes who use the tea daily to stabilize their condition.
A.H. says the tea is sold in holistic food stores, at health food stores and on Amazon online. Customers in Australia, Africa, Puerto Rico and Canada place regular orders, he said. The tea retails for $29, and brews enough for a gallon (21 servings). Retailers purchase either 50 or 100 singles to sell. Blending and packing is done in New Jersey.
At one point, A.H. says he experimented with candy flavors, but sales didn’t match the original blend with its slightly bitter medicinal taste of tannins. With the traditional taste, the company’s sales are steadily increasing each month with about 20 percent of orders from brick and mortar retailers.