Highland Blueberry Farm and Highland Organics® Wild Maine Blueberry Leaf Info
2018 Wild Leaf harvest is in!!
Thank you so much for your patience while waiting with us to harvest our leaves again and to restock the store. We really appreciate all of you for supporting small farms, farmers and our value-added products. We love what we do and we are grateful that we can provide you with a Taste of Wild Maine with our Wild Leaf Tea!
A Little Info on Our Blueberry Leaves
Did you know that the Organic and Wild Maine Blueberry LEAVES were higher in anthocyanins or antioxidants than the organic wild Maine blueberry FRUIT!! Well, we did and that is because we were the first ones to EVER test and measure the levels of anthocyanins in the wild Maine blueberry leaves. How all this came about was back in 2004 when we worked with a scientist and a local high school chemistry class on an initial research project that involved organic wild Maine blueberries and the anthocyanin levels in the crimson red blueberry leaves when harvested in the fall. That little project turned into the catalyst for Highland Organics, Inc. and our Organic Whole Plant Wild Maine Blueberry Tea.
"Organic Whole Plant Wild Maine Blueberry Tea",
is our original Blueberry Tea and is now called, Sipping Blue Tea. (click on link to go to the blueberry tea bag page). You can find our Sipping Blue Tea and all our blueberry tea blends as loose tea, in tea bags or in tea tins.
According to the World's Healthiest Foods site, blueberries are not only popular, but also repeatedly ranked in the U.S. diet as having one of the highest antioxidant capacities among all fruits, vegetables, spices and seasonings. Antioxidants are essential to optimizing health by helping to combat the free radicals that can damage cellular structures as well as DNA. WE can now add Organic and Wild Maine Blueberry Leaves to this list as well!
We harvest the Wild Blueberry Leaf in September when they begin to turn from their bright, shiny green to a fall yellowish-green and crimson red/brown color. All leaves have antioxidants, but the fall leaves have higher levels of anthocyanins. Some leaves have a fine velvety undercoat and some leaves have a soft fine undercoating and becomes part of the product. We hand harvest the leaves and hand prepare each order as they are placed. We only blend the whole leaves once the order is placed to maintain quality and freshness of our product. Blending the whole leaves when the order is placed, helps to expose more leaf surface in order for you to obtain maximum antioxidants when steeped according to the directions.
Our leaves are lab tested for quality assurance and safety. You can be assured that our leaves meet strict European Standards as a nutraceutical grade product.
Some people with Type I or Type II diabetes may not be able to take advantage of the antioxidant rich blueberry fruit, but now they can take advantage of our whole leaf organic Wild Maine Blueberry LEAVES without the fruit.
We are excited to be able to offer our own Organically Grown and Certified by MOFGA, Wild Maine Blueberry Leaves "by the ounce" and in hand-filled tea bags.
We harvest our wild Maine Blueberry Leaves in the fall when they turn a crimson red. This is when the anthocyanin (or antioxidant) counts are at their peak. We harvest all our leaves by hand, moving from cluster to cluster of crimson red blueberry plants looking for the reddest leaves to hand pick.
You should know that our blueberry fields have been certified organic by MOFGA every year since 2002. Never will any pesticides, herbicides or fungicides leach into your cup of tea from our leaves when you steep with boiling water. Enjoy your pure tea from us with confidence. To view our MOFGA certification, click here.
In 2016 & 2017 we were awarded a Maine Technology Seed Grant and worked together with MOFGA and 6 other organic blueberry farmers here in Maine. We lead the research and MOFGA presented the enterprise budget for a secondary harvest of the wild Maine blueberry fields for small Maine organic farmers interested in leaf harvesting. For more information, check out this link.
We are delighted to offer our leaves to our customers because of the higher levels of antioxidants contained in our leaves based on 3 important reasons:
Our land has been managed and our wild Maine lowbush blueberries have been grown under strict organic practices since 2002 by MOFGA, the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association; Check out our MOFGA Certification!
We only grow Wild Maine, lowbush blueberry plants, which according to independent research, has shown that they are higher in anthocyanins or antioxidants than other blueberry plant;
All blueberry leaves, no matter the color, have anthocyanins or antioxidants in them. However, research we have done shows that leaves harvested in the fall, when they start to turn a crimson red color, have higher levels of antioxidants.
More about our Wild Blueberry Leaves:
At Highland Blueberry Farm in Stockton Springs, Maine, we grow several species of lowbush, wild blueberries. 2 species in particular are Vaccinium angustifolium and Vaccinium myrtilloides. These are the primary plants that grow naturally on our land, in other words, we did not plant them here. Our job, in a nutshell, is to keep the forest out of the field and we do that by hand weeding our fields. We do grow our wild blueberries, Organically, and this is a growing practice that we have been engaged in since 1999.
We are proud to be the first organic blueberry farmers in Maine to ever harvest Wild Maine Blueberry Leaves after harvesting our fruit, even though some thought us crazy, we believed in what we were doing and so did many others. We have also designed the first drying system to dry our blueberry leaves to ensure proper, even drying for each hand harvested batch.
Vaccinium angustifolium is a low spreading deciduous shrub growing 5 to 60 cm (2 to 24 in) tall. Its rhizomes can lay dormant up to 100 years, and when given the adequate amount of sun light, soil moisture and oxygen content they will sprout. The leaves are glossy blue-green in summer, turning a variety of reds in the fall. The leaf shape is broad to elliptical. Buds are brownish red in stem axils. The flowers are white, bell-shaped, 4 to 6 mm (0.16 to 0.24 in) long. The fruit is a small sweet dark blue to black berry, full of antioxidants and flavonoids. This plant grows best in wooded areas, old abandoned farmyards or open areas with well-drained acidic soils. In some areas it produces natural blueberry barrens, where it is practically the only species covering large areas. There may be several buds on a healthy stem and each bud can open up and have several blossoms. A blueberry field that has full plant coverage can have as many as 150 million blossoms per acre.
The Vaccinium angustifolium plant is fire-tolerant and its numbers often increase in an area following a forest fire. Traditionally, blueberry growers burn their fields every few years to get rid of shrubs and fertilize the soil. In Acadian French, a blueberry field is known as a brûlis (from brûlé 'burnt') because of that technique, which is still in use.
Vaccinium myrtilloides is a low spreading deciduous shrub growing up to 50 cm (20 inches) tall, often spreading to form small thickets. The leaves are bright green, paler underneath with velvety hairs. The flowers are white, bell-shaped, 5 mm (0.2 inches) long. The fruit is a small sweet bright blue to dark blue berry. Young stems have stiff dense bristly hairs.
Vaccinium myrtilloides grows best in open coniferous woods with dry loose acidic soils; it is also found in forested bogs and rocky areas. It is fire-tolerant and is often abundant following forest fires or clear-cut logging. Vaccinium myrtilloides hybridizes in the wild with Vaccinium angustifolium (lowbush blueberry).