Wandering Jew For Tea

Recently I was given this plant when I went over to visit Mylene.

The wandering jew plant from Mylene - it's medicinal too!

The wandering jew plant from Mylene - it's medicinal too!

It’s become a habit of ours to exchange plants and seeds. She often said that she wished most companies would give her a potted plant as a token of appreciation instead of the usual souvenirs like mugs and engraved plaques. I agree.

At least getting a plant means you get to take a life home.

She told me that this plant could help prevent ailments. Chief among those was cancer. Ooohhh.

I asked her the name of the plant but she didn’t know.

So me being the intrepid and curious sort decided to find out. I happened to have an old book on indoor plants (which I wrangled from my dad years ago – one never knows with parents. They have a propensity of throwing or giving old books away). So I looked it up and figured it’s called Wandering Jew.

The pleasure of living in the 21st century is that ANYTHING can be checked and confirmed online.

So I started browsing some websites and ended up confirming that yes, this is called an Inch Plant, a Wandering Jew plant and Tradescantia zebrina (its proper name).

Close up of the wandering jew plant

Close up of the wandering jew plant

It can be a house plant or grown outside as ground cover but further reading unearthed that if you do plant it as ground cover, beware that it might overtake the entire ground! Yes, this plant may look harmless but it is invasive.

Now I am more interested in this plant as a medicinal herb (yes, this is another addition to my herbal collection which I am growing).

In Chinese, this plant is called Shui Gui Cao (Water Turtle Grass).

Accordingly, it is useful when boiled as a herb tea and drunk to clear the kidneys and for kidney problems.

The first blog link above recommends using 200 gm of the Wandering Jew leaves to be boiled with 15 dried red dates and 12 slices of ginger in a pot of 1.5 liters of water. Simmer for 1.5 hours before adding brown sugar. This tea apparently helps remove toxins from your body.

Mylene said that her friend boils this plant and drinks it for health maintenance. For now, I am contented just having it grow on the balcony. Wait till it grow a little bit bigger before I pluck its leaves for a herbal tisane!

By the way, have you come across this plant?

13 replies
  1. Reese
    Reese says:

    How interesting! Wandering Jew & Shui Gui Cao…what a difference in names, although both are mellifluous sounding. I am curious if the plant means anything to the Jewish people.

    Good to stop by to read your updates:)

    • Maya
      Maya says:

      Lately I have been curious about herbs a lot so you will see more postings on herbs and plants (since my home-made DIY compost gives me impetus to plant more and see the gargantuan leaves and plants). Just a week ago, I found out that my neighbour on the other apartment block had a whole patch of Wandering Jew! She says to pluck as we needed and no need to grow on our own. My upstairs neighbour is growing something called Sabah Snake Grass which is reputedly good for lymphatic cancer. We’re quite a horticultural bunch in this place 😉

    • Budd Wiser
      Budd Wiser says:

      It may not mean anything to the jewish people. But it describes jewish people. The plant is invasive and can (and will) take entire ground is you use it as ground coverage. Smothering the rest of the grasses and small plants.

  2. Raychel
    Raychel says:

    I got a WJ when I went to Urbana Champane in Illinois. My friend and I made it our friendship plant, and wondered how to make it into tea. Thanks for the helpful tips!

  3. Peter
    Peter says:

    Hi Maya,
    I stumbled across your site when I was looking for more info about the wandering Jew. Most sites diminish this wonderfull plant as a weed and would like to exterminate it at all costs. Plenty of recipies there. I am working in the alternative health field and certainly love all herbs. Wandering Jew is a great herb for renal function. Bring to boil then simmer 100 leaves in 2 lt.. of water for 5 minutes then leave it overnight in the pot, strain in the morning and enjoy one 6 oz. glas every day. This drink will improve renal function in no time at all. Cheers Peter

    • krista
      krista says:

      Dear Peter: Thanks for leaving a delightful recipe and comment. I think if a plant isn’t useful, people tend to consider it a weed. When it is useful, it transforms into a herb! I believe all plants are useful, even the ones people consider weeds. Thank you for your recipe. My wandering jew plant died on me many months ago. I am thinking of re-planting it soon. You’ve re-ignited my interest in this plant.

  4. Khin Zaw
    Khin Zaw says:

    I’m using (chewing) it’s leaves, (3 at a time) daily to flush kidney with hope but yet to know good result.

  5. Nisa azmi
    Nisa azmi says:

    Hi Maya…may i knw where i could get this plant ? Once u boiled its kinda taste mild its useful to a ppl like me thou….

    • krista
      krista says:

      Hi Nisa: I wish I could give you some but mine actually died. You can check out plant nurseries or even take a walk around some housing estates. Some people plant them in pots to stop them from being so invasive!


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *