Sunday, July 19, 2015

It's time to gather tea for the winter

Right now is a great time to gather plants for tea  (tisanes, actually) from your garden, yard or wild areas to use this winter.

You probably have a few plants (aka, weeds) available that make good tea and right now, they're free for the taking. Free is frugal, right?

So what can you make tea from?

Dandelions (leaves and roots)
Berry leaves (strawberry, blackberry, raspberry, etc.)
Rose hips (a little later in the season; don't forget them)
Mint (any kind, including catmint, horehound, lemon balm and so on)
Flowers like clover, chamomile, goldenrod, meadowsweet and yarrow
Some trees have bark that make tea, like cherry

Make sure you can positively identify any plant that you gather. Most plants are best when gathered early in the morning. Don't pick too many leaves from a plant or you will damage it. You can pick over a few days to minimize damage.

Dehydrate the plant material by putting it in a single layer on a food safe screen or cloth in a warm, not hot, place. Don't dry in the sun, as delicate flavors may be damaged.

Some leaves will be dry and ready to store in a day's time; others will take two days. They are ready when they're crunchy with no trace of moisture left. Store in a glass jar with an airtight lid. As much as you might want to show off your teas, don't store them on the counter. Put them in a cabinet or pantry where it will be dark most of the time.

This winter when the cold winds blow and you want something comforting, put a heaping teaspoon or two of your free tea in a cup and add boiling water. Let it steep at least five minutes or more, depending on the tea.

You will soon learn how much you need and next year, you'll know how much to harvest.