Foraging Fun

I’ve always loved herbal medicine and the powerful way herbs support health and wellbeing. Recently, I’ve been enjoying foraging for different plants to make herbal teas from.

My friend Lucie offered me an iced nettle tea the other day. The thought of drinking nettle water didn’t immediately appeal to me, but the emerald colour, as well as her enthusiasm, drew me in and I discovered I loved it.

Come to find out that nettle tea boasts some impressive health benefits. It has anti-inflammatory properties and can help reduce symptoms of hay fever and skin irritation. It also supports kidney and urinary tract health and is full of useful phytonutrients and minerals.

To make it, I simply boil up a pot of nettles, stalks and all (I harvest them with gloves) with plenty of filtered water and let the pot simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Then I cool and strain the mixture before refrigerating.

I’ve also been making pine needle tea (excellent for immune health) and have found a wonderful white pine tree to harvest needles from. I’ve learned some evergreen needles can be toxic, so it’s important to have your tree identification skills down. To harvest the white pine variety, look for clusters of five needles per branch attachment, instead of three.

You can make pine needle tea by pouring boiling water over a handful of needles in a teapot and infusing for several minutes. You can also add a little honey to sweeten if you like.

Lastly, I’ve been making elderflower sun tea by adding a handful of elderflowers (stalks removed) to a pitcher of water and letting it infuse in the sunlight for a couple of hours before refrigerating.

A friend of mine who makes kombucha harvests elderflowers in the spring and freezes them in bags to flavour her kombucha year-round. Elderflowers, like elderberries, are a tonic for the immune system.

Here’s to drinking ourselves into balance and light up with the help of Mother Nature’s bounty.

Susannah Kenton

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