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Sheeba, Moroccan tea - Wormwood ?

April 5 2004 at 8:10 PM
Ghost of Gerard 
from IP address

I am trying to help answer a question regarding the contents of a Moroccan tea known as "Sheeba". This tea allegedly contains Wormwood, however, what type of Wormwood does it contain. Artemisia Absinthium or Artemisia Pontica. I have searched Google and my own herbal books, with no joy.

Any help gratefully appreciated.


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Arabian Wormwood

April 14 2004, 1:25 PM 

Hi GoG :)

I can't be much help but this is what I have discovered, I have a book 'Healing Teas From Around The World' and in the section that deals with arabian teas it mentions the use of Artemsia Absinthum, there are biblical references to absinthum as well.

I also came across the following on a page on the internet dealing with arabian herbs...

Quote :::Many species of wormwood, an aromatic herb known for the bitter taste of its leaves, are used medicinally in various parts of the world. In the Arabian Peninsula, several species are used as medicines. One, Armenian wormwood, is a perennial and one of the most common plants of semi-desert areas. Used as a fuel and a pasture plant, Armenian wormwood is also well-known to the Bedouins as a healing plant. Mandaville reports that Armenian wormwood is used by Bedouins as a medicinal often by inhaling the smoke. Musil describes its use as a smoke inhalant to treat glanders in horses and to cure "bewitched" animals. Al-Kindi used Armenian wormwood in a "toothpaste" which not only polished the teeth but also counteracted decay, treated bad breath and protected the mouth. Zohary cites two other Middle Eastern species with medicinal properties: Artemisia judaica and A. maritima (sea wormwood). He describes A. judaica as a handsome, strongly fragrant dwarf shrub with comparatively large heads of foliage, and one of the leading perennials of the desert. Musil reports that the Shammar tribesmen used the cut foliage to flavour and preserve dates. Arabic names: SHIH (Armenian wormwood), BU'ATHIRAN (A. judaica). Botanical names: Artemisia herba-alba or A. sieber (Armenian wormwood), A. judaica, A. maritima.::: End Quote

Not sure if any of that helps but it may give you something to go off? If you do solve the mystery make sure you post here as I'd like to know what you find out :)


sheeba moroccan tea

February 21 2005, 5:32 AM 

I do appritiate your discussion, because I am searching this mysterious plant for years too. In Rabat, Morocco, they added little of sheeba lieves along with a pinch of regular tea preparing a fresh mint tea "the à la mente". The taste was very special, I asked what was that fresh fragrant silvery herb which gave the tea that unique delicate fragrant taste. I knew, that some people grew it in their gardens, but I could not get more information that a name sheeba. I am an advanced herbalist and I thought also that sheeba leaves are very similar to wormwood, which has so many different species around the world. Yesterday, passing by a little moroccan grocery in Ottawa (Ontario, Canada), I asked the owner if he new the sheeba...he did and sent me to one moroccan store in Montreal (Quebec, Canada), where they are selling sheeba. I have another hope to learn more about this mysterious herb. In Morocco, they warned me to use only a small amount of fresh sheeba leaves, but I did not understand why. I thought that perhaps it was abortifaciens or something like that, because nobody would tell me more about it. If sheeba contains thujone, it would be toxic in higher amount. Other species of wormwood, for example the chinese one (Artemisia annua) does not contain thujone as absintia, there are some different uses among species, also most of them are similar, and it is used also as an efective antimalarial. There are differences among wormwoods so perhaps the moroccan one would be like a new star on the herbalist sky. Good luck and progress in our search!

Sarah Head

Re: sheeba moroccan tea

February 22 2005, 2:30 PM 

Thanks for starting this thread, GoG as the subject matter follows on from a discussion recently on Henrietta's Hebrlist about using wormwood for headaches and the contraindications for pregnancy.

Thanks for your info too, Debs (nice to se you back!)I did some quick website scanning yesterday, trying to follow up Armenian wormwood, Arabian flora and Arabic uses, with a few detours around the Queen of Sheeba and references towards esoteric, mind altering useage of artemesia. Nothing really helped, until I came across a short paragraph in Rough Guide to Food and Drink in Morocco. They noted that Moroccans added chiba to their mint tea in winter to keep out the cold. They translated chiba as wormwood in English and Absinth in French, so I figured the species they were talking about was artemisia absintia or common wormwood. Since French ch's are often pronounced sh, it's not hard to see how the name of the tea could be transfered to Sheeba, especially since Morocco is probably covered by the ancient kingdom of the same name ruled by Soloman's great love. (aka Michael Wood's research for his Myths and Legends series recently)

Wormwood is a digestive and a powerful bitter. As it's name suggests, it's primary use in the past has been to expel internal parasites and is a purgative. This is where most of the warnings about not taking it if you're pregnant come from, because the last thing you want is a purge, the actions of which might trigger a miscarriage.

Most people will be aware of using wormwood in the making of absinthe. This is now banned in many countries because of the neurodegenerative effects of drinking vast quantities of the alcohol.

Common Wormwood grows quite happily in my garden and is already sending out new silvery green shoots. I can't guarentee they will still be there after all this snow, but we'll see.

For anyone wanting to experiment with Moroccan tea, it would be interesting to taste the difference between adding common wormwood to the infusion and roman wormwood, artemisia pontica, which is a much more delicate and subtle plant. Let us know how you get on!

Best wishes



Moroccan Tea?

December 15 2005, 8:26 PM 

I am Moroccan by heritage and when looking for the english word for sheeba was suprised to find that its wormwood! I know it is illegal to grow sheeba in the U.S., but never knew why. I guess the wormwood thing explains it.

There is another herb used in Moroccan tea which isn't Nana (mint) or Sheeba. This herb in arabic is called "Louiza" (the 'z' having a 'zh' sound). I don't know what its called in english and was hoping maybe some of you might've heard this word?


Louiza herb

December 16 2005, 10:18 PM 

Hi Dave,
Just googling and found it is lemon verbena. Gorgeous lemony scent.


Attn: Dave

December 29 2005, 8:22 AM 

In response to your question regarding the herb called Louiza, the English name would be Lemon Varbena, also spelled sometimes as Lemon Varvena. It is a very aromatic, anti-spasmodic and relaxing herb that make a really wonderful bed-time tea!


artesmia illegal to grow?

January 1 2006, 4:26 AM 

I have an acre that has been taken over by artesmia absinthe type. I had a very tough time getting it hacked down last fall( about 4 ft. high and dense). I have no idea how it started in my fields.

If I was in it long my mind got confused and disoriented.It is very fragrant and has a strong odor. Later when I was told it was the type they use to make absinthe the drink.

I wondered if there was someone I could sell all those plants to.It has been very costly trying to keep it hacked down. You say it is illegal to sell this plant in the U.S.? How do you know that? Will I get fined or something because it is growing here and I am having a VERY tough time getting it out of my horses fields. Thanks for any responses and happy new year !


Artemisia-good or bad

January 3 2006, 10:58 AM 

I don’t know that anybody said it was illegal to sell Artemisia absinthum in the US. It is illegal to make an alcoholic brew in many countries. I was made to taste a piece of the wormwood plant when I went on a herbal course. It was extremely bitter and it took some time for the taste to subside.

I don’t think wormwood is a native plant of the US. You say it is large and sweet smelling so you may be in luck and it may be Artemisia annua or Sweet Annie, which is in great demand to treat and prevent malaria.

The horses won’t eat anything harmful and if they do they won’t get malaria!!

You may have struck gold. Let us know. Audrey

Sebastien Lefevre

Sheeba for moroccan tea

March 26 2012, 7:51 PM 


what moroccans call sheeba is Artemisia arborescens.
I can tell you that because my wife is moroccan from Oujda and in winter, when fresh mint is not available, they use sheeba instead. They prepare green tea as usual, but instead of adding fresh mint in the tea pot, they serve the tea in glasses and present a glass with small branches of sheeba, they take one and stear the tea in the glass with the branch. Depending on the strength of the taste they desire, they leave the branch in the glass or not.
If you are sure everybody likes it, you can of course put one or two branches in the tea pot but the tea can turn bitter if you leave it for too long.
I hope this will help you despite of the time that has past ince you posted your messages.
Be careful though, this plant is of the same family as absinth ...
It may have abortive properties.
Here is a link to an online french gardenshop, just to give you an idea of what it looks like.
I bought mine in a garden shop close to my house.

Best regards

Nate Villaume

Te Berber finally answered

April 7 2012, 7:50 PM 

I'm so glad this discussion occurred. I have been trying to find the ingredients for Moroccan Berber tea. It was very difficult to locate, and to know what to do with the names Louiza, Sheeba, & Selma!
Ingredients for Berber Tea discussed in this thread:
- Louiza -- Lemon Verbena
- Sheeba (or cheeba) -- Artemesia arborescens (In California, we have Artemesia californica, so I'll use that)
- Mint
- Selma --? What is this?

I have also heard of Habeeqah being used in Moroccan Berber Tea, which might be Melissa officinalis (lemon balm). Do Moroccans use lemon balm in tea, because I saw this for sale in the market, too. This conjecture that haqeebah is lemon balm is based on my sparse notes.

karen lawton

Maroccan Teas

May 10 2012, 2:52 PM 

When I was in Marocco I was pregnant with my second child I was travelling about the country in a converted Truck. When we were staying near the Cascades of Ouzoud and made friends with some locals -they made me Sheeba tea as a herbalist I was weary of the Artemisia as I know it to be an abortifant but when I discussed it with the local women they said no it was strengthening for the pregnancy.

I did drink a couple of glasses and discovered the plant growing in the hills -it is very similar to Wormwood but I found the leaves more fragrant in a lighter way.

Karen x

Nadia Guerraoui

Selma - moroccan tea

January 13 2014, 2:40 PM 

Salmiya in morrocan is sage, you can add few leaves to the mint and sheeba and it is a delight to drink.
anyone knows what Timijja in English or French is please.

Debs Cook

Response to Nadia's question.

January 24 2014, 10:13 AM 

@Nadia... In regards to your questoin "Salmiya in morrocan is sage, you can add few leaves to the mint and sheeba and it is a delight to drink. Anyone knows what Timijja in English or French is please."

Timija is a species of Mentha suaveolens also known as Apple Mint, Woolly Mint or Round-Leaf Mintin the UK. It's a native plant of Morocco that is currently listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) threatened species list as 'Nearly Threatened'.http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/164539/0

If you fixing a recipe then I'd use Moroccan Mint (Mentha spicata crispa 'Moroccan') where the recipe calls for Timija also spelt Timijja.


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