Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Ultimate Tonic

After posting about my spring de-tox, it occurred to me that Stinging Nettle Tea really deserves its own post. This is a tonic everyone should know about, a tonic that's survived through the ages because it works.

The month of March, I was surprised to learn from my family doctor, is the worst time for flu, and I found this out first-hand toward the end of my de-tox. Who knows whether thrice-daily cups of Nettle Tea boosted my immune system, but I was able to lick the flu relatively easily without suffering the worst of its blows.

How To Make Your Own Nettle Tea

1. Forage stinging nettles or buy at a farmer's market.

2. If you have a screen window you can repurpose or some other similar screen or mesh, prop it up on the floor of a sunny room so that air passes underneath. I scavenged a window screen and lay it across stacks of books at the four corners. (You could probably use baking pans in an oven turned very low, too.) Now employ a fan to blow off moisture. Turn the nettles periodically with tongs. Drying time will vary by local climate. Here in the Pacific Northwest it took a few days to fully dry my batch. Once dried, the nettles lose their sting.

3. Feed dried nettles into a food processor and pulverize. Voila: tea. Now store in a proper air-tight canister.

Nettle Tea will surprise you with its distinctive taste, and as a spring tonic it has few equals. Give it a try and tell me what you think.


Saara said...

I've always just blanched and frozen them in the past, but this is the year that I'm going to dehydrate them. Do you think the flavor combination of elderberry juice and nettle tea would work? That'd be a real flu elixir!

esmaa said...

I've already decided this will be the year I dry more tea (I do lemon balm), but you've convinced me to harvest stinging nettle. Thanks!

Becky said...

It's my favorite thing in the spring... I like the suggestions for drying, especially so that I can drink it throughout the winter. I usually just use tongs to push the fresh leaves into a french press and then infuse with hot water for about 5 minutes. I noticed the other day, strangely, that if you use the purple tips of the type of nettle that has that color, the infusion is bright blue. Very weird and, uh, not exactly tempting to drink.

matt wright said...

dang mate - making your own tea! awesome stuff :D

Does the taste differ much from using fresh leaves for the tea?

LC said...

Saara - I'm always in favor of mixing and matching. Do you have preserved elderberry juice from last year?

Esmaa - Thanks for reminding me of the lemon balm--we have a tenacious patch that survived my excavations for a raised veggie bed.

Becky - I want to taste more of your nettle concoctions. You'll love the dried stuff b/c it's so easy to toss a couple tbsps into a Potato Leek Soup or similar dish in the depths of winter.

Matt - Fresh is good too, esp. this time of year. Everyone should experience the tasty stinging nettle elixir.

Thanks for the comments everyone!

Wild Food UK said...

Greetings LC! I too have just finished a spring detox, but instead of using nettle tea, I made nettle infusions which are stronger in their nutritional concentration.

I made a short video showing how to make nettle infusion at:

Heather said...

Nettles abound! I just blogged a nettle dinner myself. I thought of you when I made it (though I didn't have any wild clams or porcini to enjoy with my bounty). :)

jean said...

just found your blog in taste spotting...I love wild foods..cant wait to start reading your blog it looks great

Joy the Baker said...

I've been seeing nettle everywhere I turn lately. I never would have thought to transform it into a tea! Thanks for the great post!

Lola said...

I can't wait to start reading your blog, it looks terrific. I live in Rome, in the city. Foraging stinging nettles (or anything else for that matter) in the public park just can't cut it, just too much pollution. But on the weekend I shall scamper off to the countryside and harvest me some. It grows incredibly abundant in this period. Thanks for the great tea idea, ciao.
(word verification: morel !)

Danny said...

Hi LC,

The photo of the tea is absolutely beautiful! I've selected it as one of the best food photos of the week!

See your photo and the other winners here: Food Photos Of The Week - Food Bloggers Unite!

LC said...

Hey Danny, very cool--thanks! I encourage everyone to go check out Food Bloggers Unite! (link above) to see a bunch of tempting shots as well as really useful tips for food bloggers.

LC said...

Wild Food UK - Love your site. Good to see more foraging mojo out there.

Heather - Your nettle feast is a thing of wonder.

Jean - Thanks for stopping by. I hope you find some inspiration here.

Joy - Grab up some of those nettles you're seeing and make yourself a spot o' tea. Thanks for the visit.

Lola - Ah, Roma. Believe me, nettle tea is safer than driving in your lovely city!

Sarah said...

Hi LC, Just found your blog as I was searching for nettle pesto recipes. If you want to maintain the optimum value of the dried nettle, don't pulverise them before storage, keep them whole. This goes for all dried herbs I always pack the dried leaves into a glass jar which I then use for soup or other cooking during the winter.

Jen said...

I love the taste of tea with fresh nettles -- at the risk of soundy cheesy, I think it tastes like 'spring'! Do you have any idea how the taste of nettle tea made with dried leaves compares to tea made with fresh leaves?

Melbourne Hotels said...

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Tina said...

Hi! I am just amazed by your Food Blog! Can't wait to read more interersting stuff! Caan't forget this Nettle tea taste. Yuo just made my day to share the recipe! I will try it out!!! Many thanks!