Jesuit Tea

Scott 2699 Scott 283
2002, Ilex paraguariensis, yerba maté or Jesuit tea, Scott 2699
NORTH VIETNAM, 1963, Chenopodium ambrosioides, epazote or Jesuit's tea, Scott 283

There are two plants known as Jesuit tea or Jesuit's tea. The lesser-known Chenopodium ambrosioides, epazote or Jesuit's tea appears only on one stamp (see above); its Mexican origin or association with missionary orders gave rise to names like the Spanish té de los Jesuitas or the German Jesuitentee. Ilex paraguariensis, yerba maté or Jesuit tea is very well-known in South America, where the leaves are used to prepare the popular stimulating drink called yerba maté or maté. For many years the tea had been banned as pernicious, even under pain of excommunication, but eventually the ban was lifted. Jesuits recognized its energizing properties. When food was short, natives could subsist on maté and smaller quantities of food. So the Jesuits cultivated it and prepared a beverage that would later be known as Jesuit tea or "the elixir of the Jesuits." They may have gotten into the production of maté on their reductions to save the natives from the more destructive epidemic of alcoholism.

Scott 656  
ARGENTINA, 1956, the herb with its traditionally associated vessel and straw, Scott 656
BRAZIL, 1988, ABRAFEX Philatelic Exhibition, features the herb's vessel and straw, Scott 2156

Scott C60 Scott C61 Scott C62 Scott C63 

Scott C64 Scott C66 Scott C67

Scott C67a
PARAGUAY, 1931-36, orange tree and maté, Scott C60-C63; maté on both sides, Scott C64-C67
some items also exist imperf, Scott C67a

Scott 2483
ARGENTINA, 2008, botanist Aimé Bonpland with the leaf of Ilex paraguariensis (left) and the female flower (right), Scott 2483


URUGUAY, 2004, traditional vessels for yerba maté, Scott 2065

Scott C311
URUGUAY, 1967, soldier with traditional yerba maté vessel, Scott C311

This 1911 cover from Chudrim, Bohemia, then part of Austria-Hungary, carries an ad for the elixir of the Jesuits,
being brewed from yerba maté by a strangely-dressed Jesuit and two elves.

ARGENTINA and RUSSIA, 2016 joint issue about common traditions: tea and yerba maté

Jesuit Bark

Scott 923 Scott 925 Scott C739
COLOMBIA, 1982, the bicentenary of the Royal Spanish Botanical Exhibition, Scott 923, 925, C739
featuring 3 varieties of Cinchona or Jesuit Bark: C. lancefolia, C. cordiflora, C. ovaliflora

Scott 444 Scott 446 Scott 448
REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO, 1963, Cinchona ledgeriana, Scott 444, 446, 448

Around 1630 Spanish Jesuits in South America learned of the healing powers of the cinchona tree. Its bark cured malaria and reduced other fevers as well. Prejudice against the Jesuits and the drug they brought back to Europe kept Protestant Europeans, however, distrusted the Jesuits and thought the bark was a plot to kill them, so many continued to die from malaria until 1681.  Two French scientists, Pierre Joseph Pelletier and Joseph Caventou, later identified the exact substance in the bark that was curative, an alkaloid called quinine from the native word for bark. Other alkaloids with curative powers have since been isolated. Other plants are also known as Jesuit's Bark: Iva frutescens, Iva frutescens oraria, Iva oraria.

Scott 759  Scott 10 Scott 30
CUBA, 1962, Scott 759
RIO MUNI, 1960 and 1964, Scott 10, 30

   Scott 367 
RWANDA, 1969, Scott 537 perf and imperf.
RWANDA, 1970, Scott 367

Scott 1320 Scott 1089  Scott 187 
1993, Cinchona cordifolia, Scott 1320
1962, Scott 1089
INDIA, 1977, XXXII International Homeopathic Congress, Scott 767
shows Dr. Samuel Hahnemann and "cinchona"
UNITED NATIONS (Geneva), 1990, Scott 187

Jesuits' Nuts

Scott B589 Scott 551 scott 798b Scott 3815
GERMANY, 1981, Scott B589; LATVIA, 2002, Scott 551; LITHUANIA, 2005, Scott 798b; POLAND, 2006, Scott 3815

Jesuits' nuts (Trapa natans), also known as Jesuit nuts, Jesuit's nuts, water chestnuts, or water caltrops, are indigenous throughout southern Europe and eastward into China. The species contains a single large seed with a sweet and edible embryo which abounds in starch. These seeds are ground and made into bread in parts of the south of Europe. When the Jesuits introduced the rosary in China, they made them from the seeds of an aquatic plant known as water caltrops, often mistaken for the water chestnut. Because of the use of these seeds in rosaries, they became known as Jesuits' nuts. Jesuits' nuts are used as an ingredient in many elaborate oriental recipes. Fresh Jesuit's nuts are available in September in areas with large oriental populations such as Hawaii and California. Oriental and specialty food stores carry boiled Jesuits' nuts year round in cans or jars, usually in a honey or sugar syrup.