The California bay is a native evergreen tree that grows to 80 feet in height. There are different species of the laurel family, California bay leaves or umbellularia californica, are also known as mountain laurel, Oregon myrtle or pepperwood.
Native Americans used the bark of California bay trees for tea and the leaves to help keep away biting insects.
These leaves are longer, skinnier, have a stronger flavor than Turkish bay leaves. California and Turkish bay leaves can be used interchangeably, but because of their stronger flavor, less of the California should be used in recipes. Excellent in chowders, tomato based dishes, stews and pickling. Remove whole leaves before serving
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Bay leaves are native to the eastern Mediterranean.