Foraging for Tea

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My interest in the medicinal value found in plants led me on a couple of foraging expeditions last summer. I enjoyed walking around my yard and garden, identifying 18 edible wild foods growing there.

I made a mental note last year to watch for the return of early spring flowers. Although today’s temps stayed on the cool side, the sunshine lured me outdoors this afternoon where I could prowl the yard, foraging for tea.

Foraging for Tea

Foraging for Tea

I identified six flowering plants, suitable for brewing a refreshing cup of tea.

A word of caution. When foraging for tea and for consumption, identification becomes extremely important. I checked out foraging books from my local library last summer and spent time examining and identifying the plants growing in my yard.

The following list of wild plants, suitable for tea, are common plants readily available in most of the United States. Some wild foods, however,  like mushrooms, require careful examination, as there are poisonous varieties that look similar to the edible ones.

Lilac

My lilac bush, a start that my grandfather gave me years ago, is in full bloom. The scent is seductively sweet, inviting me to lean in toward the fragrant flowers and inhale deeply.

Lilac leaves and blooms are edible. And like most herbs, they have healing properties. Lilac tea soothes the digestive system and helps to lower a fever.

Use freshly picked flowers to create a delightful tea.

Place 2 tablespoons of lilac flowers, stems removed, in a mesh tea ball or strainer. Place the ball or strainer in a mug and pour in boiling water. Cover and allow tea to steep for 15 minutes. Remove ball or strainer. Add a few lilac blossoms to float on top of tea.

Fresh lilac leaves may be used as well. However they produce a somewhat bitter tea.

Foraging for Tea

Redbud Tree

The redbud tree announces spring’s arrival with bright purplish pink flower clusters. This beauty is my favorite tree and two of them grace my front yard. Imagine my pleasure when I discovered the tiny flowers are edible.

Redbud blossoms are high in vitamin C and offer antioxidant properties, making the tea helpful for inflammation and for boosting the immune system.

I carried my mesh strainer out to the bigger tree and easily gathered approximately 3 tablespoons of blooms from the branches. Boiling water added and the mug covered, the tea steeped for 15 minutes.

The redbud tea had a light green color and a refreshing and delicate flavor, reminiscent of dandelion tea. I enjoyed this soothing drink for afternoon tea time.

Foraging for Tea

Dandelion

Although most people consider dandelions a weed and a great nuisance, the entire herb contributes to health and wellbeing.

Full of nutrients such as vitamins A and B, manganese, iodine, calcium, iron, magnesium, selenium, silica and chlorophyll, dandelions energize the body, prevent illnesses and fight off diseases. The flowers, which are the least bitter part of the plant, cleanse the stomach and intestinal tract.

Pick flowers before they begin to go to seed. Place in a tea ball or mesh basket and drop into a mug. Add boiling water, cover and let steep for 15 minutes. For even greater health benefits, include a couple of leaves with the flowers.

Foraging for Tea

Violets

The common blue violet, which is actually a purple color, is considered a weed. It appears in yards, along sidewalks and in gardens in early spring. The leaves and the cheerful flowers are edible.

Violets are high in vitamins A and C and they have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. They are cooling and moisturizing and cleansing for the blood and lymphatic system.

Snip off blooms with scissors, to brew for tea. Add 2 tablespoons of violet flowers to a mesh basket or tea ball, drop into a mug and add boiling water. Cover and steep for 15 minutes.

Foraging for Tea

Henbit

This herb, a member of the mint family, springs up in yards as a harbinger of spring. The tiny pinkish purple flowers attract bees and hummingbirds. The plant is so named because chickens love this herb. The entire plant is edible, for chickens and humans.

Henbit, which is often confused for Dead Nettle (see below), is a nutritious wild food, high in iron, vitamins A, C and K, and fiber. Henbit offers digestive support, boosts energy and reduces fevers. Don’t overdo with this wild food, as it can have a laxative effect. An occasional cup of tea or adding the leaves to salads is fine.

Gather the plants, stem, leaves and flowers, and add to a mesh basket. Pour boiling water over the Henbit, cover and brew for 15 minutes.

Foraging for TeaHenbit on the left and Dead Nettle on the right. These plants often grow together in the yard. Notice the differences in the leaves.

Dead Nettle

Related to Henbit, Dead Nettle belongs to the mint family as well. The different leaves help to identify which plant is which. Dead Nettle is an important plant in early spring, attracting bees awakening from their dormant winter phase.

Dead Nettle offers support to the digestive system, boosts the immune system and relieves menstrual issues for women. For that reason, Dead Nettle should not be consumed by pregnant women or those trying to get pregnant. Like Henbit, this herb is high in iron, vitamins A, C and K and fiber.

Add Dead Nettle stems, leaves and flowers to a mesh basket, drop into a mug and add boiling water. Cover and steep for 15 minutes. For fun, Dead Nettle and Henbit can be combined when making tea.

Foraging for Tea

Spring Teas

My foraging for tea today was successful. I enjoyed the redbud tea this afternoon. And tonight, after dinner, I gathered Henbit and Dead Nettle and brewed a second cup of tea. The combined Henbit and Dead Nettle created an earthy, flavorful tea that reminded me of greens such as kale with hints of sage or oregano.

The wild teas are soothing to sip on and healthy for my body. The act of foraging for tea brings its own benefits as well. I love walking outdoors and feeling connected to nature as I look for the plants and gather a few for my own use.

Plus foraging greatly increases the variety of teas I enjoy this time of year. As my herbal garden grows and wild edibles appear in the yard, I have a wealth of health boosting plants available to choose from.

I am so grateful for the healing power in plants. They truly are my medicine.

Foraging for Tea

Check out my Amazon Storefront for a variety of tea supplies such as tea balls and mesh baskets, and mugs with covers.

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program is designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 341: Treasures Discovered…at the Perfect Time

treasures found

I absolutely love when unexpected things happen that remind me that the thoughts and desires that I send out are energy. And they will find their way back to me,  manifesting in their own time. I am delighted and amazed also when an image pops into my head, another form of thought, and shortly after that, the image becomes reality. For my first today, I acquired two items. One I have been searching for since early April. The other just came into my awareness last night.

This afternoon, I traveled to Arkansas with Greg to visit his dad. I dearly love this kind, gentle man. At 93 he still cares for himself and has a sense of humor, although by his own confession, his energy levels are low and at a soul level, he is even more weary. It is always a pleasure to visit with him and help him in small ways, which are all he will allow.

After lunch, we stopped at the grocery store to restock essentials for him, and Greg picked up a couple of packages of bite sized candy bars for his dad to snack on. Dad Moore doesn’t eat a lot, but he still has a sweet tooth and enjoys an occasional treat. Back home, while Greg and his dad were looking at old photos and reminiscing, I rummaged through cupboards, looking for a little candy dish to put the chocolates in. I saw the corner of a small plastic bag sticking up and curious, pulled it free of the dainty bowl it was tucked into.

I know I made some kind of sound of surprise! Something akin to “Oh my goodness!” Within the sealed plastic bag were three wooden teaspoons, from Taiwan. Ever since I visited Teavana, the loose tea store in Springfield, back on April 2, I have been searching for wooden teaspoons. I have my loose tea that I purchased in clear mason jars. I measure out the tea by the teaspoon, and I’ve wanted tiny wooden spoons just because they look so much more earthy than having a plastic teaspoon stuck in the jar, as I do now. I’ve looked in several retail stores in Joplin, without success. I eventually decided I’d find them someday, at the perfect time. Which….happened to be today! Those spoons have been in that cupboard for at least 15 years, since Greg’s mom passed 15 years ago next month and Greg’s dad has left every item in its place, unchanged. I’ve never seen these spoons before and have no idea when Mimi received them or what the story is behind them. I only know she had the spoons tucked away, and now I have them. Dad Moore, generous man that he is, told me I could have them. I am thrilled.

treasures wooden teaspoons

After a wonderful afternoon of visiting with Dad Moore, and running some errands, we prepared to leave. Greg paused in the kitchen to get some info from his dad, and asked me to turn on the overhead light. As I flipped the light on, my attention was caught by an item hanging on the wall, directly above the light switch. I know my head tilted to the side, like a dog who is trying to understand the words being spoken to her. Last night, as I was decorating my house for Christmas, I created a small coffee table vignette, for the first time, I might add. I liked the simplicity of it and the way it looked. And yet….it needed something. It needed a wooden tray beneath the grouping. As I headed to Arkansas today, I was thinking about that wooden tray. I have one in my bedroom, on my bed, holding a book, a teacup and my great-grandmother’s hankie. I could use that one, I mused…but in my mind, I saw a lighter colored tray with shorter sides. Perhaps a bamboo one? The image I had was very clear.

Now, standing in the kitchen, while Greg and his dad discussed eye doctors and appointments, I was stunned to see the very wooden tray that had popped into my mind, hanging on the wall. I had literally walked by it five or six times this afternoon, without seeing it. The light illuminated it for me. It could be that the image of that particular tray surfaced in my mind because subconsciously, I have seen it there in the kitchen many times without registering it. I don’t know. I don’t care. The tray I had been thinking about, since last night, was right there before me. I removed it from the wall and turned around with it in my hands, perhaps with my head still tilted to the side. Again, Greg’s dad graciously gifted me with it, with a smile and a wave of his hand.

These items now have a place of honor in my home. I will enjoy the tray and the spoons, and I’ll smile every time I scoop out tea or arrange a vignette or serve tea on the tray. Even better, I cannot look at those simple reminders of the wonders and mysteries of the universe without giving thanks and expressing joy.

treasures wooden tray

treasures wooden tray 2