Sage grows into a broad evergreen perennial clump up to 2 feet tall when the slender, blue-purple flower spikes bloom in early summer. It thrives in full sun and well-drained soil. May reseed.
Traditional Healing Uses: As a tea or gargled, alone or mixed with cider vinegar, sage has been considered one of the best herbal remedies for sore throats, laryngitis, tonsillitis, and mouth inflammations. Sage tea has also been used to alleviate fevers, flatulence, seasickness, stomach aches, headaches, and delayed menses, as well as to slow milk production in mothers who are weaning babies. Sage compresses have been applied to wounds, feverish headaches, and engorged breasts in new nursing mothers. Leaves have been rubbed on teeth for whitening and on gums for strengthening.
Other Uses: Sage is a strong seasoning, to be added lightly to meat, poultry, sausage, stuffing, pickles, and cheeses. Fresh leaves are milder than dried. Bees love sage blossoms, and sage honey is delicious. Sage leaves dry well for herbal wreaths, sage tea is used as a hair rinse to control dandruff, and gardeners plant sage to repel carrot flies and cabbage moths. Some people report that they remember their dreams better when they drink sage tea.
Harvest: Gather and dry leaves in sunny dry weather, just before flowering or in early bloom.
Preparation: For sage tea, pour 1 cup boiling water on 1-2 teaspoons dried leaves and steep for 10 minutes, 3 times a day. Tea is good with lemon and honey. For a sage gargle, put 2 teaspoons of leaves in 2 cups of water, bring almost to a boil, and let steep, covered, for 15 minutes.
Caution: Don’t take sage tea during pregnancy.