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Gol Gavzaban - Borage Flowers - Tell Me About Them

  • c

The other day, in a Middle Eastern grocery, I spotted a packet of dried purple flower petals. The only English on the label was gol gavzaban. Some googling told me that this is the blossom of the borage plant. I found plenty of information on borage, the herb (the leaves of the plant), but nothing on its flower other than the suggestion that the dried petals are made into tea in some parts of the Middle East.

Does anyone know about this flower and the tea made from it? Is it used medicinally or for its flavor, and what does it taste like? And where is it used?

Thanks for any enlightenment on this.

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    1. re: StriperGuy
      Caitlin McGrath

      Yeah, I read that (I love Gernot Kazner's spice encyclopedia). It has pretty pictures of the flowers, but the text only talks about the uses of the herb (leaves).

    2. I've seen the fresh flowers in salads.

      An herbalist here in Madrid put some dried borrage flowers in a tea for bronchitis. Her notes said that they encourage "sudor" (sweating).

      1. Gardeners are often told to freeze Borage blossoms in ice cubes to add to summer drinks. I've included a link below, though I've never tried it. Scroll down to "culinary applications".

        Link: http://www.gardenguides.com/herbs/bor...

        1. d
          David "Zeb" Cook

          I asked my herbalist-minded spouse and she tells me the flowers can be used variously for fevers, bronchitis and diarrhea.

          David Cook

          1. Just because I haven't seen anyone write it out (although I assume it's clearly stated in the spice dictionary linked to the other threads):

            Borage (the leaves - finely chopped as they are almost like nettles in texture and the fresh flowers) tastes like cucumbers! In fact, the Swedish name of the herb translates to "cucumber herb" (gurk├Ârt).

            I'd imagine that the dried form would also taste of cucumbers.

            1. The fresh flowers have a mild cucumber taste and onion like smell.

              Here's some info and links:

              Culinary Uses

              Borage flowers and leaves are the traditional decoration for gin-based summer cocktails, and may be set in ice cubes to garnish other drinks.

              The flowers and young leaves may be used to garnish salads. dips, and cucumber soups.

              Candied borage flowers make attractive cake decorations.

              Chopped leaves can be added to soups and stews during the last few minutes of cooking.

              The leaves can be cooked with cabbage leaves (two parts cabbage, one part borage.)

              Borage does not dry well for culinary use.

              Medicinal Use

              Because it is a tonic plant for the adrenal glands, borage provides an invaluable support for a stressful lifestyle.

              Borage is rich in minerals, especially potassium.

              A tea made with borage helps to reduce fevers and ease chest colds.

              An infusion of borage acts as a galactogogue, promoting the production of milk in breastfeeding mothers.

              Other Uses

              Borage makes an excellent facial steam for improving very dry, sensitive skin.

              The flowers may be dried to add color to potpourri.



              3 Replies
              1. re: The Rogue

                The borage flowers (fresh and dried) that I've had didn't have a cucumber flavor--they were pretty much without any distinguishing flavor. The fresh leaves, however have a mild cucumber-ish flavor (along with a somewhat unpleasant texture).

                1. re: butterfly

                  My experience exactly. The flowers are pretty, though.

                  1. re: butterfly

                    The borage water is available at iranian markets, certainly all over southern california. It can be added for an herbal enhancement to soups, etc. as you might use say, bermuda sherry peppers or worcestershire sauce, of course to very different effect. I think it can even be used to flavor crushed ice (like a snocone) for a savory ice for summer.

                2. Borage flowers are often candied and I've heard of them used in a tea as a remedy for Bronchitus.

                  1. c
                    Caitlin McGrath

                    Thanks all for sharing your knowledge! Sounds like fresh borage blossoms would be more interesting to play with, but I enjoy learning more about herbal remedies. Borage leaves I knew about, of course, but I'd never heard of using the dried blossoms. (I was actually hoping they had a neato culinary use.)

                    1. The only thing I can tell you that you haven't already been told is the translation:

                      Gol = Flower
                      Gav = Cow
                      Zaban = Tongue

                      It's the cow-tongue flower!

                      1. t
                        Travis the Kid

                        Iranians usually steep the dried flowers for about 10-15 minutes, with some rock sugar (nabaat). The tea is then drunk with lime/lemon juice to taste. Adding the lime/lemon juice not only enhances the taste, but changes the color of the liquid from a murky brown to a kind of scarlet.

                        1. a
                          Amin (London Foodie ''OrientRice@aol.com'')

                          Borage is a herb which resembles a salad leaf & is
                          often used as a feed for bees. The edible leaves taste
                          like cucumber, whilst blue coloured flowers are good
                          for cocktails

                          1. In my family we brew this herb-the flowers only- to help chest colds. We serve it with rock sugar. We also believe in hot and cold foods, if someone has had yogurt, cucumber, and fish, for example, then a serving of this tea with the rock sugar is essential to balance the diet and prevent lowered blood pressure.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: sepideh.e

                              More info:
                              Borage tea also reduces heavy menstrual bleeding and helps with PMS. Some beat an egg in the brewed tea to reduce bleeding for menstruating women.
                              I have also heard that it helps with weak heart and is a tea of choice for heart patients, does any one know more about this?

                            2. The latin name for Gol Gavzaban is "Echium Amoenum" which is diferrent from the Borage with edible leaves under the latin name "Borago officinalis".
                              Echium Amoenum is native to Iran and it is very important not to confuse the two species. My great grandmother was quite knowledgeable in herbs and natural cures and remedies and from what I recall from childhood, we used the Gol Gavzaban tea for cold, flu, and even some stomach related problems. It also has a calming effect.
                              The Borage which many refer to with a mild cucumber taste and used in culinary is a different species.
                              The Gol Gavzaban tea is dark scarlet /purple and is usually made with a type of dried lime which I am not sure of the name in English, or it is taken with fresh lemon/lime juice as well as rock sugar (nabbat). It is difficult to desribe the taste, if taken along with lemon or lime juice it is quite nice. As with any herbal teas with medicinal qualities I personally would not recommend taking it on a regular basis. The only time my mother made this tea was if we had a cold, flu, or a stomach ache, or needed something to calm the nerves.

                              1. My Persian Mother gave us this tea all the time. Sugar. The color is beautiful and dependss on the lemon or lime you put in. She would put in dried lemon rind and it was a deeper color. Juice was a clearer brighter color. When I am home I drink it and I sleep well. She calls it a anti-stress tea but I think it is a mild relaxant, I imagine someone with bronchitis would really benefit from drinking this tea.

                                1. Hi there, if you are still out there, this Gol gavzaban is Iranian name, im sure u saw it in iran, i am iranian, what we do, we put this in a tea pot and pour hot water in it and drop some lemon juice and suger in there (otherwise very bitter), heat it (i heat it in a microwave) for 1 minute, then drink it like tea, it is good for stress and nervous system, makes you calm unlike tea.

                                  1. That's neat, about the other species. I'll have to find some and try it.

                                    The common kind, the flowers? Make Martha Stewart proud -- use them to decorate deviled eggs.

                                    1. It is a great antidepressant, also help with indigestion

                                      1. In Iran, at our home, gol gav zaban, among other herbs, was used frequently for its medicinal purposes or even just to enjoy a soothing and tasty hot drink. My father and aunts used to usually brew gol gav zaban with a little bit of sonbol-tib (Valerian root) mid morning. I believe that there's a medicinal herb out there for every ailment, if only we knew them all we could treat every physical sickness.