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?

32 thoughts on “Wandering Jew For Tea”

  1. 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:)

    • 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • 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.

    • I used the green wondering jew with the white flower kind. The sap can cure eye stye. Very effective and does not leave a scar.
      Introduced to me by my sister in law when she saw i had a bad infection . I had a course of anti biotics n cost me $120 in medical fees. I also recommended to 2 of my friends n it worked!I am also very interested in common herbal plant. They are very useful.

      • Hi Jennifer – Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog and adding your tips and info. I didn’t know about the sap being able to cure eye infections. Herbal plants especially Malaysian herbs are aplenty. I always find that we know so little about our plants and that is why one of my key interests is documenting and blogging about tropical herbs and plants.

  2. 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. 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

    • 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.

    • Do not put it in your back yard. It grows like crazy without fertilizer! You may plant it in a pot. But there are everywhere. So i dont bother to plant it. Whenever i get itching eye stye i just look for it n bring it home n put in a glass of water. Used the sap n apply it few times a day or 2 times a day if you are working.

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

  5. 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….

    • 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!

  6. The plants sap cures woulds.I have used used it every time i get a would and rarely do i apply the sap twice.It’s a very effective herb on wounds.

  7. Hi Maya,
    Thanks for the useful information in your blog. Wish I could give you some cuttings to grow as this plant grows so profusely in the right soil conditions. The Malay mak cik in my local plant nursery called Shui Gui Cao by the name of “Telinga Tikus” or “Rat’s Ears! ” It can be found in some plant nurseries in the Klang Valley, Kuala Lumpur. However, the varieties which they have are usually different and more colourful. I’m not sure about the herbal efficacy of the other varieties though. I planted a few stalks given to me in a planter box and flower pots. Today I harvested about 15 stalks and boiled it for 2 hours with a handful of red dates and honey dates. I used 4 bowls of water and when the water had been reduced to only 1 bowl, I served it to my CKD family member.
    Here’s the link on the different varieties of this specie in Google search:-

    • Hi Jayce – Thanks for stopping by my blog and thanks for the lovely gesture. I didn’t know it was called Telinga Tikus haha. Cute name! Mine are gone and I have been neglecting my garden for a while now. My daun kaduk grows like crazy though. I need to start pruning them back or make them a nice bed. I have this wild garden of sorts now, what with my 10 foot tall curry leaf tree and 8 foot tall pomegranate tree. But yeah, I should get back to growing this herb. I didn’t even make a drink out of it and it just died on me. Sigh. Plants have their own personalities too!

  8. hi i have been studying and documenting plants for my own personal uses for years and i have found that many of the house plants we have medical and food uses but most people are unaware of the medicine and food that they have in thier houses and backyards if you are ever interested please let me know

  9. Hi maya! I eat it everyday! It is great to chew with other fragrant herbs and bulk up the food content. It lacks flavor but mixes well!

  10. Hi Jez – thanks! I was telling a friend that this was an edible herb just last Saturday. She had some growing in her garden but wasn’t sure what it could be used for. Thanks for popping by! What other herbs do you grow?

  11. Hi , I just harvested wild growing wondering Jew plant. They grew like weed as ground covering. I m going to plant on government land as well. They look so pretty n full of vitality after these rainy days. I have lots to give away . I m at Hougang , Singapore. Let me know if u like to hv some cutting. Other herbs are mugwort, holy basil, laksa , Sabah snake plant , Thai basil , Thai coriander etc

  12. Hi Bee: Great of you to offer the cuttings. I wish I were in Singapore. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’m in Penang, by the way, so there’s really no way of getting the herbs from you. I would like some mugwort if you have the seeds?

    • Hi Xee Xiong – I have never seen the seeds of this plant. It can be planted from cuttings if you can get them. Just snip off one stalk and insert it into a pot. It should be able to grow this way.

  13. Hi , I called it magic plant . had it for 6.5 months everyday i boiled it with 200gram and 1.5 liters water for 1.5 hrs . my kidney GFR increase from 54 to 73 now , its really happy for me

    • Hi Barbara: I’ll err on the side of caution if one is pregnant. Do check with your doctor if any detoxification remedies are suitable if you are pregnant. I’m not a medical specialist so I cannot confirm if this is good for pregnant women.

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