le journal

Tilleul Harvest in Provence

Tilleul Harvest in Provence

In the heart of Provence, where the sun-drenched landscapes are adorned with aromatic lavender fields and ancient olive groves, lies a lesser-known but equally treasured tradition: the harvesting of tilleul flowers. These delicate, fragrant blossoms, also known as lime or linden flowers, are not only a symbol of the region’s rich natural bounty but also part of Provençal herbal medicine.

In late spring, as the warm Mediterranean breeze gently sways the branches of lime trees, locals gather to collect these precious flowers, embarking on a meticulous process that transforms them into a soothing tisane (herbal tea), cherished for its myriad health benefits.

Tilleul is typically harvested at the very end of May/beginning of June in this temperate region. Harvest happens when the flowers are fully open and fragrant. If you haven't spent time under a Tilleul tree when it is in bloom, please find your way to spread out a blanket, at the right moment of the year. The perfume is one of the sweetest whispers of nature. Pure elegance.

Flower clusters are gently cut and collected with their small accompanying silvery leaf. Once collected, the flowers are laid out in a single layer on a clean, dry surface such as a drying rack or a clean cloth. The best location is a  dark, well-ventilated area. Direct sunlight can degrade the flowers’ essential oils and medicinal properties. The flowers dry in one to two weeks. They should be crisp and brittle to the touch when fully dried.

Flowers should be stored in an airtight container to preserve their potency. Glass jars or tin containers work well.

Tilleul has multiple medicinal benefits. Tilleul tea is widely known for its calming effects, helping to reduce anxiety and promote better sleep. It can help soothe digestive issues, including indigestion and bloating, due to its antispasmodic properties. Tilleul tea can act as an expectorant, making it beneficial for relieving symptoms of colds, flu, and respiratory infections. The flowers contain flavonoids and other compounds that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, supporting overall health.

Come to Provence for many things, but if you have the chance, drink a cup of locally harvested tilleul tisane while you are here.

Photography and writing by Emilie Johnson. She lives in Provence and can be found on instagram at @emilie_joly_johnson