What is so special about the Ginkgo tree?
The Ginkgo tree is a unique tree both botanically and medicinally. The Ginkgos are one of the oldest types of tree on Earth, dating back to the age of the dinosaurs and pre-dating the development of flowering plants. There is now only one living species of Ginkgo tree left, the Gingko biloba which itself may have been close to extinction until it was taken up by Buddhist monks in China and Japan , planted on Buddhist monasteries and revered for its special qualities. Individual Ginkgo trees can grow to be very old- sometimes thousands of years old and as they age they slowly change in form. Eventually they develop strange woody growths which grow down from the lower branches and are called 'chi chi' .
The shape and feel of the leaves is also unique. The leaves are strangely thick and leathery and bear an odd resemblance to the much smaller leaves of the 'maiden hair fern'. They are fan-shaped with a partial split down the middle giving them a 'double lobed' appearance.- Hence the species name 'biloba' ( See our logo at the top of the page).
Ancient Ginkgo trees can evoke a sense of awe and wonder in the viewer.
The leaves contain several unique compounds, particularly the family of 'quaternary terpene lactones' known as 'ginkgolides' as well as 'bilobalide'.
So Ginkgo trees can be seen as special botanically, aesthetically and historically! Not many plants can make similar claims!
Ginkgo leaf tea can be prepared and consumed in the traditional manner for making regular tea but is best mixed in with regular tea or some other flavoured tea such as peppermint tea as it can be a bit bitter on its own. It is best mixed with the regular tea in roughly equal volumes.
Ginkgo leaf powder can be consumed in much the same way as the tea but has the additional virtue of being easily mixed into other foods so that it can be consumed whole to gain the full benefits. Ginkgo tea can easily be converted into powder simply by putting it in the blender for a short period until the leaf fragments are chopped into a fine powder.
Ginkgo powder tastes best when mixed in with creamy foods like yoghurt or milkshakes or suspended in fruit juice drinks. You can try mixing it with vegetable oils, particularly olive oil, or with honey or jam. I often mix it in with ice cream, or in my coffee. Ginkgo leaf has a unique flavour which can enhance a range of foods. You can even cook it into bread, cakes or biscuits while you are making them.