Friday, February 10, 2012

February 10, 2012 - Birthday Girl and Dead Nettle Tea

First things first: my beautiful, creative, and super smart baby girl turned 14 today. 

Happy Birthday, Chan-Chan

To avoid becoming too reflective and to stave off the urge to sing a few bars of "Sunrise, Sunset" here is Esther in her toboggan and funny shirt.

Super effective

And now on to the tea...

I've been wandering around the yard looking for something to turn into tea. I recently collected a bagful of dandelion leaves to dry and put in the tea cabinet. While I was on the ground plucking weeds for the tea pot it occurred to me that we have an insane amount of these little purple flower things that look like teeny-tiny orchids. I know I've been told what these things are called so I asked the wife and she very patiently told me (again) that they are dead nettle

Off to the Google I went in search of some validation for my desire to turn this little weed into tea! I found people with plans to put it their pancakes and frittatas, plenty of evidence for its use in salads, and more than enough examples of it being made into tea.

Dead nettle fresh from the yard, pluckity-pluck
As I've been doing with all the wild herbals, I placed the plants on a black pizza pan and let them dry in the oven at 170° for about an hour, or until dry and crunchy.

Right out of the oven, crunchity-crunch

Then, using pure brute force and no actual tools, I grind them all up with my bare hands. Brutal. Remember when you were a kid and the most fascinating thing you could do with your time was to mash dead leaves in your hand until they were powder-fine? Yeah, just like that, but in a bowl so I don't waste anything.

No, officer, not that kind of weed

Then it goes into the tea kettle with some just-barely-boiling water. Green herbs tend to make bitter tea if you steep them in water that's been brought to a rolling boil. The resulting brew is earthy in smell and flavor and really needs some sweetener (honey works well). When I say "earthy" I mean it smells like a hole that you've dug in the ground. The fresh plant has this same smell, only much stronger. The tea is more subtle and little bit minty.

Dead nettle is purported to have all sorts of healthy properties and benefits. I'm just drinking it for the taste and joy of taking in something that would normally fall to the lawnmower and came from right outside our door. 

Other pictures of birthday girl and dead nettle tea preparation can be found in the gallery here.

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