The balsamic leaves make an excellent cooling tea, known as "Gill tea," for the dog days of summer. Traditionally used for kidney problems, indigestion, as a poultice for ulcers and cancers, and as a "blood purifier." The young leaves and flowers are edible, peppery and rich in vitamin C, and can be added to salads, soups or stir fries. The plant is tenacious, an aggressive creeper that tolerates almost any conditions, making the dark green, scalloped leaves an effective and useful groundcover even in adverse conditions. A member of the mint family, it has the characteristic square stems of mint, and a strong odour when crushed. Historically, however, its popularity hinged for centuries on its use by home brewers, hence the name "alehoof," or ale herb. As far back as the Vikings right up to late medieval times, the dried leaves rivaled hops in popularity for the bitterness and clarity they imparted to ale. Alcoholic drinks made with a variety of herbs such as fennel, costmary and rosemary were commonplace in Medieval Europe, and hops were not considered necessary or often even desirable in the production of ale then. Ground ivy was one of the most popular herbs for brewing prior to the 16th century, and for years a battle was waged in public houses across Europe over which drink was preferable hopped or unhopped ale until finally hops won out, and ground ivy "subsided" to become the ground-hugging landscape plant we know it as today.