Some of you know that I love to hike. Several times while hiking I noticed a distinct smell – that smelled to me like Chai Tea. For the longest time, I thought it was a combination of native thyme plants and eucalyptus trees, which are often found in the areas where I hike.
However, I was wrong. I recently learned that what I was smelling was not someone carrying a chai tea while hiking (that would be odd on a hot summer day), but rather it was the California Bay laurel, and the leaves are known as California Bay leaves. They are culinary leaves similar to the traditional bay leaf you find in the spice section of the store – only a slightly stronger flavor.
On my last hike, I finally remembered to pick up a few leaves. I like to make green lentils with bay leaf, as it adds a wonderful flavor. Today, I’m trying it out with the California bay leaf that I picked up while hiking.
Amusingly, when I googled it, I found that people actually sell “wild” California bay leave on Etsy.