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Prep for a jolly linden winter in Bulgaria. Now!

One of the best things about living in Bulgaria is that even in Sofia, you don’t need to distance yourself from nature. Most food here doesn’t come in a plastic package and home-cooked meals are still THE THING.

Another benefit, which few take advantage of, is that most Bulgarians can tell herbs from flowers and I’m not referring only at the elderly. And today, because it’s sort of an urgent matter we’ll teach you something about linden blossom and winters.

Why linden blossom?

I won’t fool you around with stupid reasons. Simple: it makes one of the best teas. The tea contains flavonoids, which function as antioxidants. Additionally, this tea helps cure colds and has a relaxing effect.

Why do you care? Because right now there are thousands of blossoming linden trees in Sofia, waiting for us to collect the flowers! And you should, too!

How and where to collect linden blossom?

Let’s first establish what you need to collect linden blossom. You’ll make a good use of:

  • a bag;
  • a pair of hands;
  • a ladder;
  • medical / life infurance (kinda joking but not really if you end up falling from the tree).

Truth be told Ellie and I got plenty without the latter two. We just found ourselves in Boris garden one day, saw a blossoming tree, pulled a branch and collected all the blossom it had. It will last us for this winter.

This brings me to the next question: where do you find linden trees in Sofia? As you’ve already gathered one of the places is Boris Garden. South park and pretty much every other park in Sofia will also do. But! There are linden trees just about anywhere in the city – walk down your street and I can bet there will be at least one.

Watch out for the fakers!

You’ll notice it easy – it looks like a linden tree, but it’s not! It’s a decorative faker that seems much like the real thing. Like Pepsi is to Coke and credit cards are to money. You get the point. How to recognize it? It doesn’t smell like the original thing. And because I can’t (yet) show aroma through the blog (when that happens I’ll have to shower every time before posting…) here are two pictures which will help:

How to collect the linden blossom?

Collecting the blossom is rather easy, but there are two crutial factors:

  1. Don’t just collect the blossom – get the entire thing like this:
  2. Don’t break the branches of the tree – I bet you’ll want to get back to it next summer 🙂

What to do with the collected linden blossom?

Once you’ve collected what you consider enough, find a dry place in your house without direct sunlight. Lay a towel or a newspaper on it and spread the linden blossom on top. You’ll have to leave it for several days to dry up, after which you can put it in a bag and store it wherever you like.

And then, when winter comes – reach for the bag and make yourself a jolly linden winter!


By Nina Alexander

Nina is the big sister. She's a marketing professional by day, traveler by heart, tech geek, bookworm, beer lover and an amateur photographer. Her motto is Friedrich Nietzsche's famous quote "And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

6 replies on “Prep for a jolly linden winter in Bulgaria. Now!”

What is the exact species of the Bulgarian Linden? I want to plant one but don’t know which kind to buy and there’s 10 different and 99% of them don’t smell at all 🙁 help?

Actually you can 🙂 Nobody will mind you unless you’re damaging something. Wear one of those bright color reflective vests that cyclists wear and people will think you’re working for the municipality 🙂

My ex-wife’s grand mother had a Linden tree as tall as their three-story house.

One day I was called upstairs to the last floor where she lived to help her prepare some tea. When I walked in in her wooden panelled apartment she called me from the balcony: “Ela tuk Aleksho” she said.

I passed by the living room, covered with tradicional blankets and carpets.
Old newspapers and conserves. And old black and white photo of my ex-wife as a toddler seated in the lap of what I learned later was no other than diado Koleda.

“Ela ela” she hurriedly said. And I obliged.

“Shakai” she said when walked outside besides her. She grabbed a branch of the linden tree that has been growing since the same day my ex-wife was born and started pulling it towards her.

Little by little the tree started bending towards her as if its massive presence – it was the tallest tree of the block- didn’t matter. it also obliged to her as it probably did for many years.

All I could say was: ” But Grandma what are you doing?”

She pulled once more until the linden was close enough for her to collect.

Then she said “tuk,” and pulling me towards her made me grab the branch of the tree that she was dominating like the people before her would do.

I hold it and the tree started pulling me in resistance but I hold. Then she started smiling with that toothless smile of hers rejoicing in victory and she started to collect the linden.
It smelled so good.
It was everywhere in Lovech, where she had escaped with her husband more than 50 years ago against her parents wishes. When she finished with the Linden she grabbed the branch again and slowly let it go.

The Linden tree started going back where it had been, a few inches near her house where she had lived for many years during communism and raised her daughters and grand daughters – proudly- and where she had asked me to give her a baby boy.

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