Bay Leaf Tea

With a constant smile and a warm greeting, he sold spices, fruit preserves, homemade noodles in the local Amish farmer’s market. No one was certain of his age, or even his last name.


Painting by Nick Gourlie

He was known as Grandpa Jake.

I loved shopping there. He sold his spices in small, hand-labeled plastic packets mounted on a simple peg board.

On this day, I was looking for a small quantity of bay leaf.

I told him that I only use it in certain soups and stews and ended up wasting a lot of it.

He smiled and asked if I knew about bay leaf tea, claiming that with a little honey and cinnamon, was “simply wonderful, soothing, and very therapeutic.”

One week later, Grandpa Jake was gone. He complained to a neighboring vendor in the market that he did not feel well. At the hospital, they found that he had a congestive heart and fluid in his lungs.

He passed away a few hours later. The hospital staff honored his living will, there was no attempt to resuscitate.

Many of his fellow market vendors attended the traditional Amish funeral. Dressed in white in a handcrafted pine casket, he was honored in his home; rows of horse and buggies parked in the front yard.

Long tables at the entry held the straw hats of his peers, a measure of respect. Prayers were said. A simple meal was served. Friends and family dug his grave, marked by a plain concrete headstone.

And that was it. There was no obituary in the local newspaper, no photographs are permitted in their culture.

His market inventory is being sold off, profits going to family.

I stopped by to purchase a few items. Apple butter, homemade preserves, hot sauce.

And just a little more bay leaf.

Brewed with a cinnamon stick and a bit of honey, it is delightful.

And it will always remind me of this gentle man and his sweet spirit.

Rest in peace, Grandpa Jake.



This entry was posted in Family, Food, Inspiration and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

42 Responses to Bay Leaf Tea

  1. Nurse Kelly says:

    Simply beautiful, Van. I will have to try that! I love tea!

  2. Funny how the seemingly simplest things in life can evoke such powerful memories. This was such a sweet one, thank you for sharing this beautiful homage to someone who probably didn’t know the impact he made on others.

  3. Funny I don’t know grandpa Jake but this just pricked my eyes. I have to try this tea. Lovely post Van

  4. What a wonderful story! And now I want to try the tea.

  5. Just Plain Ol' Vic says:

    This is a beautiful, yet simple story that honors Grandpa Jake.

  6. A tender tribute. For what it’s worth, we are digging out self-seeded bay trees all the time

  7. themomfred says:

    Oh to be remember in such a way as this, would be all that one could ask for ❤️

  8. Fiona says:

    What a wonderful tribute, Van. I will give this a go. We have a bay tree in the garden; one of the first things we planted. Use it a lot. Have all the ingredients on hand.

  9. What a beautiful and tender tribute, Van. I’m sick in bed with a cold, wishing I had a little bay leaf tea right now. It sounds wonderful. I just might have to send the hubby to the store 🙂

  10. I love to read what you write. Do you have published books, Van by the River?

  11. This is such a sweet tribute to Grandpa Jake..May his soul rest in peace.

    Bay leaf tea is really therapeutic. I sometimes make it, too….

  12. TanGental says:

    Gulp. That’s made me lumpy, throat wise, this early morning. Lovely post indeed Van. Off to pick some bay leaves.

  13. What a tender tribute to Grandpa Jake. I’ve had tea with bay leaves before but have had it for a few years now. Thanks for the reminder.

  14. A lovely post! So full of sentiment and beautiful memories! Thank you!

  15. George says:

    So sad about this gentle soul but so grateful that he touched your life in a small way that will endure. God rest his soull.

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