Papaya Tropical Tea

The papaya tree is not really a tree. Strange as it may seem, Carica papaya is a giant herb with a single long and hollow stem topped by a parasol of serrated leaves and clusters of fruit. Papaya is indigenous to Mexico and Central America. Christopher Columbus called it the "fruit of angels" and the heavenly papaya deserves the name-soft and juicy but not mushy, fragrant, bright yellow to orange, with sugar-sweet pulp.

The papaya has since migrated to all tropical countries where they can get the warmth they need to grow. Trees that do not get enough sunshine may be able to bear fruit, but they will not have that sweetness and lingering aroma we look for and expect in a papaya. Mature but unripe papayas have dark green and tough, protective peels. Many Filipinos who like to eat it as a vegetable pick the fruit this stage of growth. Those who prefer it ripe have to wait, pick the papaya when the skin turns yellow green, and allow it to ripen fully at room temperature.

Papaya is an economically significant crop in the Philippines. It is very popular and often eaten for breakfast or as a light and healthy snack or used to make tropical fruit salad. It is not raised as a chemical-dependent monocrop in large plantations. It is grown by small scale, backyard gardeners who own less than three hectares of land. Papaya is raised mainly in the fertile and scenic provinces of the Southern Tagalog region where it usually bears fruit for about 3 1/5 years. Almost the entire production is consumed locally as a food item. Papaya production has been threatened by a virus, but a Philippine variety has been developed that is resistant to the disease. The wild native Philippine papaya has been found by Japanese researchers to have almost ten times more papain (an enzyme) than imported varieties. Apparently, plants that grow wild in their natural surroundings are turning out to be nutritionally richer than those transplanted into a different environment.

Papayas vary in shape, size and color. Some are long and narrow; others are rounder or pear shaped. The pulp ranges in color from shades of yellow and orange to a deep unusual red that is sought after by papaya aficionados as a sign of intense sweetness. The Solo papaya has been bred to provide one generous serving. Other papayas can weight as much as 3 kilos. One thing they do have in common is that unique and yummy taste and aroma.

Neuleaf Papaya Flower Tea, delicious and calming, is made from the tender flowers of this heavenly fruit abundant with the vitamin antioxidants.