Thyme is the tiny, grayish-green leaf of a low-growing shrub. It has a subtle, earthy, piney and peppery taste, with a slightly floral and herby aroma. Going a little bit deeper, it has hints of lemon and mint and is just a tiny bit bitter.
Due to its popularity and hardiness, thyme is not only grown in its native Southern Europe but worldwide. It was considered a symbol of sacrifice and bravery by the Ancient Greeks and Romans, who bathed in thyme-infused water, believing it would give them added strength and courage.
In the Middle Ages ladies embroidered thyme sprigs into scarves that they gave to knights; there’s even a legend that there was thyme in the straw bed of the Virgin Mary and Jesus. Thyme has been used to treat conditions ranging from depression and nightmares to digestion issues and impotence – it was even recommended as a hangover cure in the 18th century.
While we can’t guarantee it will magic away your hangover, we can say with certainty that it pairs really well with fish, chicken, lemon, and tomatoes. It’s particularly at home in Mediterranean dishes and is a key competent in regional spice blends including the French Herbes de Provence and the Middle Eastern za’atar.
While thyme comes in hundreds of varieties, French thyme is the most common. Whole sprigs may be used when roasting meat, poultry, fish, or veg, with the sprig being removed before serving. Leaves may also be plucked and added during cooking, as in our Crispy Mustard, Thyme, and Lemon Chicken. Because the leaves are so small, no chopping is needed!