Many people hold their ground pretty firmly on whether they are a “tea person” or a “coffee person”. Both can contain caffeine, although the caffeine in tea typically feels less abrasive than a shot of espresso or black coffee. As someone who straddles both sides of the debate, I prefer both at different times and different places; coffee in the morning on the way to work and tea at night with a great book. But, the truth is, many can’t handle coffee for one reason or another and tea is the only choice. Not too shabby, considering there are hundreds of varieties of teas that have known medicinal benefits in addition to great flavors.
Daniel Klein recently delved into foraged teas in a piece for The Huffington Post, and more specifically, a foraged mushroom tea called Chaga. The tea is made from a mushroom that grows on birch trees that is then ground into a fine powder to make an earthy, but healthy tea. The article begs the question, what other plants can be foraged from our own backyards?
Over at Fat of the Land, blogger Langdon Cook frequently discusses foraging escapades and writes about how to introduce wild foods, including foraged herbs, weeds, and plants into both your kitchen and your life. Here is a quick roundup of four fun and easy homemade teas that you could forage in your own backyard!
1. Peppermint Tea
It’s hard to beat freshly made peppermint tea, especially with a drizzle of honey right before bed. Peppermint is great for your digestive system and has relaxation properties. To make peppermint tea, simply collect the leaves, rip them into smaller pieces, and set them out to dry for about a day. Then, pour boiling water over the leaves and let steep for a few minutes.
2. Dandelion Tea
Dandelions are the pests of the gardening world and it feels great for gardeners and lawn protectors to mercilessly pull ‘em up by the root. Well, now you’ve got a new use for those dandelion leaves and flowers! If you want to make tea from the flower, steep a handful of them in water for about 20 minutes and then use a strainer to pour out the liquid. Make sure to add a little sweetener like honey or sugar. Dandelion tea is great for your immune system and flushing out toxins.
3. Nettle Tea
Nettle Tea is a bit more of an adventure than the other two. You’ll need some gloves, a bowl, and scissors to start. Then, you’ll need to find some stinging nettles. These usually grow along hiking trails (if case you haven’t run into some...ouch!) and are very prominent in Canada and the United States. To make the tea, snip off the “tips” (should be a lighter green), chop them up roughly, and add the tips to boiling hot water. Let steep for 10 minutes. You can add a sweetener if you like. Nettles have fantastic health benefits. They are chock full of vitamins including vitamin C, potassium, and iron and make a great tonic to prevent and cure illness.
Chamomile (the national flower of Russia oddly enough) can be grown in your own backyard but can also be found growing in the wild. Chamomile is a little white flower with a yellow center. To make tea, pick the flowers and add them to boiling water to steep. Dried flowers can be used as well. Chamomile is most widely known for it's sleep aid properties but is also known to relieve stress.
Photos by Flickr users Michael_Lehet and Justin and Elise