Sunday, April 3, 2011
I have long been a fan of the humble nettle. Not only are they great for cooking with (or so I've read), and for making natural homemade fertiliser, but they are also amazing and personally I think at their best when made into a tea. Steeped overnight it turns into the most magical nutritive tonic out. For vegetarians and meat-eaters alike it packs an amazing multi-vitamin and mineral rich punch, providing Vitamins A, B, C, E & K along with minerals; iron, calcium, potassium, silicic acid, manganese and copper. It stimulates kidney excretions making it the perfect detoxifying tonic and is also amazingly helpful for skin conditions such as eczema. It is known to help relieve premenstrual symptoms and also counters arthritis, rheumatism, tendonitis and other disorders of the muscles and joints. But you wanna know something else cool about nettle tea that is not such common knowledge? It stimulates milk production in breast-feeding mothers. Without going into too much detail (this being a mostly food oriented blog and all) if you feel you are running low on milk supplies, skull a few glasses of this a day and you will have more milk than you know what to do with! I even had to stop drinking my nettle altogether while breast-feeding Kye as I found I had way too much milk, and choked the poor boy. Okay, too much information, sorry.
For us vegetarians, anything containing readily available iron is something not to be missed. While pregnant for the second time in less than two years, you’d think my iron levels would have been plummeting. But drinking a couple of glasses of nettle tea along with my daily 10ml dose of Floradix tonic, my midwife was shocked to announce that my iron levels had actually gone up during pregnancy! She was gob-smacked as most people, even meat eaters lose iron stores while pregnant.
Back home in Raglan we were lucky enough to have friends down the road growing stinging nettle commercially, so it wasn’t very often that we were out of freshly dried leaves for our daily brew. Over here in Perth, I’m going to have to look a little harder to find it I think, although I have just come across this on eBay which looks promising. There was even wild stinging nettle growing all around the chicken coup at Ada’s kindy and the kids would have to be extra careful not to brush up against. I remember at our family home growing up, mum had a whole bunch of it growing down the side of the deck. My poor little sister would have only been about 4 years old when she fell face first into the nettle bushes! Ouch doesn’t even begin to cover the pain she must have felt.
The best tip I was given when I first started drinking nettle tea, was to add star anise to the brew to disguise the somewhat grassy nature of nettle. Just one or two is all you need to add a lovely little licorice note. Going even further, in a bid to use up all the random ingredients lost in the back of our pantry before moving over here, I got into adding oat straw tea and licorice root to the mix too. That was some of the tastiest nettle tea I’ve ever had. The licorice adds a lovely natural sweetness while the oat straw adds even more to the nutritive value, it's loaded with plenty of vitamins A, C, B complex and K. Mineral; silica, calcium, iron, potassium and phosphorous. It’s also said to be great for insomnia, skin and hair health.
Happy brewing. Cheers xxx
nettle tea recipe
You'll have to look out for a supplier of freshly dried nettle leaves as this is far superior to the tea-bag forms of nettle. It can be grown and dried yourself, but you'd have to look into the rules and regulations of growing it in your area. Oat straw tea can be purchased at good health food stores, but I tend to go to an Asian grocer to find my star anise and licorice root, at very reasonable prices.
makes 1 litre
- 2 small finger fulls (2-6 tablespoons) dried stinging nettle leaves
- 2 star anise
- 2-4 pieces of dried licorice root
- 2-4 tablespoons of dried oat straw tea
- 1 litre boiling water
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