It’s that time of year when the world is waking up from sleepy winter and the plants are poking their heads out of their soil beds. Including nettle! Now is the best time to harvest it, when it is young. You can even make pesto with it!
I consider nettle the queen of herbs. It is full of nutrition, including iron. Good for us vegans. It has a mild earthy flavor when made into tea. You can use it dried or fresh, but in this post, we are talking about using fresh herbs.
The picture at the top of the post is of a nettle mint tea. The nettle is from my nettle patch. The mint is from a potted plant I just bought to start over because the nice mint patch that I tried to move to someplace where it could spread didn’t take. It didn’t like the new space. The plants tell you where they want to be. So this year I’m putting some in a big planter to confine the spreading and I’ll have it right outside my back door for making tea.
Making tea from fresh herbs is probably pretty self-explanatory and you might be wondering how this could possibly be a recipe post. Well, that’s because I do have a couple of tips for you. And all of these are just suggestions. Feel free to experiment on your own!
Tip #1: Use the “green tea” setting on your tea kettle
You basically don’t want the water to boil, so if you don’t have a tea kettle with a green tea setting stop the heat on the kettle before it comes to a boil. Certain herbs can make a more bitter tea with the water set to boil (including green tea!). The green tea setting is a gentler setting.
Tip #2: Cover the cup while brewing
Some herbs (like chamomile) are full of volatile (essential) oils. There is goodness in those oils, so keep them in the cup/mug! It also allows you to steep the herbs longer while keeping the water hotter, especially if you followed tip #1 and it’s not as hot to start with. You can just use a small dish on top of the cup, you don’t have to buy a mug that has a cover. I use an inverted ramekin.
Tip #3: Steep for a bit
It might take a little longer for fresh plant products to release their flavors. So cover your mug and steep away! (Tip #4 will help, too)
Tip #4: Muddle your herbs
I have a muddler that is part of a bar set. But if you don’t have one, just use a spoon or other kitchen utensil to mash the leaves. You can also give the leaves a twist by hand, but don’t do that with stinging nettle or you’ll be sorry!
Tip #5: Add mint
Mint has a wonderful flavor plus it is a stimulant, which boosts the medicine of the other herbs you are using. It also helps with digestion. I like the flavor of nettle alone, but it is very mild, and I’m actually liking this nettle/mint combo.
That’s it! Play around with herb combinations and you’ll hopefully find some you’ll like and you will have invented your own tea recipes! I also recommend lemon balm in your tea which is much more flavorful when brewed fresh than dried.