June Tea Blend - Cold Brewed Nettle
As the first day of Summer approaches, the days are beginning to get warmer even here in the Pacific Northwest.
Sunny hot days are perfect for cold brewed herbal tea in the afternoon. Cold brewed tea is typically made without adding heat to the plant material. This changes the flavors that are released into more light and savory notes. Bitter herbs tend to be less intense with this method which is nice since they have such a cooling action on the body.
Nettle is no exception. There’s nothing quite as lovely as a jar of cold emerald green nettle tea when you’re sweating and uncomfortable. Nettle, or stinging nettle, is a well know herb because of its high mineral content, which makes it a gentle daily tonic.
It also grows everywhere here in the Pacific Northwest! However, I rarely gather it because it really lives up to its name stinging nettle and then some. I prefer to buy dried nettle from my local apothecary because it’s much less of a tricky process. If you do decide to try and gather it, here are some tips:
-Remember to gather from a clean area (check out my post about gathering 101) and also ask permission from the plants.
-Wear very thick gloves, bring clippers, and a thick bag so the stinging hairs on the plant don’t poke through the walls at you.
-Be sure you’re only gathering plants that have NOT begun to flower. Once the plant begins to flower, ingesting it can cause gastrointestinal upset.
-Be prepared to get stung no matter how careful you are. It’s quite painful and the tingling will last for hours.
-The leaves need to be removed from the stem and laid out to dry in a dehydrator or cool dry area of the home. Once dry the leaves will no longer sting!
(See how this Nettle has not begun to flower yet as opposed to the photo below where the Nettle is in bloom. Look along the stem for flowers to decide if it's in bloom.)
I do plan on harvesting Nettles someday to experiment with making yarn from the stems which contain long fibers that can be spun into twine. (Check out this video about the whole laborious process)
(Also see this beautiful nettle yarn I was gifted. It makes excellent stiff wash rags.)
Once you have your dried nettles, cold brewing them into tea is quite easy, it just takes time. I like to make it before bed so it can steep all night and be ready in the morning to take along to work with me. Alternatively, you could make it in the morning and let it steep until the afternoon when a chilled drink is most welcomed.
Simply measure out 1/3 cup of nettles (I’m also adding a sprinkle of milky oats to mine here) and put them in a 4 cup mason jar. Fill it to the neck with good filtered water and put the lid on. Give it a good shake to wet the plant material and set it in the fridge to do its magic.
Once it’s steeped long enough, filter out the plant material by pouring through a strainer into another jar or glass and enjoy!
For those of us who need our daily dose of caffeine, summertime is also my season for Japanese Gyokuro and Senchas. With their low steeping temperatures (they are also wonderful cold brewed) and vibrant green and bitter flavors, they’re another delicious green drink on warm mornings. Check out local Sencha enthusiast Charaku-Tea for Tatsuo’s blogs on Sencha and consider purchasing his high-quality tea if you decide to explore the world of green tea further.