How to Harvest, Dry, and Brew Nettles for Tea12:22 PM
Nettle tea has been used for years for its amazing health benefits. Every time I see a remedy for allergies or coughs, nettles seems to be recommended. The lucky thing about living here in Nebraska rural territory is that nettles are a fast-growing, almost-overwhelming weed that will take over every part of the yard. Why is this lucky? Because that means that one of the most recommended healthy herbs is FREE!
Here's what you need to know to harvest, dry, and brew nettles for tea.
1. Nettles are best when picked small. Yes, you can harvest them later, but they are more likely to have big, tough stems in them. Picking the nettles when they are small (under a foot high), ensures smaller stems and more tender leaves. Also, you can keep them under control between harvests.
I wear some good garden gloves (remember, nettles put off a stinging oil that can severely irritate skin), and cut the leaves individually, or the stem off near the ground with a pair of kitchen scissors or gardening shears.
If it's after a good rain, they usually don't need rinsed. If you're concerned, however, you can rinse them in a colander and allow to drip dry before putting them into the dehydrator.
2. Lay the nettle leaves on a single sheet in your dehydrator. I use this particular Weston dryer to do many at a time (enough to fill a whole quart jar when dried.)
Follow the direction on your dehydrator to full dry them. Move them to a canning jar immediately, and put a desiccant packet in to keep moisture from getting in (and to prevent mold.) You may want to crush the leaves down with the end of a wooden spoon to fit all the leaves in!
3. To make tea, you can choose to brew the leaves bigger in a reusable tea bag. Or, you can try a diffuser, although the nettles can break up into such small pieces that they can actually go through the holes of most of them you can buy. A mesh strainer or tea bag is probably your best bet. I like to prepare the leaves for tea by quickly mashing them up a bit in a mortar and pestle.
Enjoy! The tea itself needs to brew a long while (5 minutes or more) with scalding hot water. It has a very "green" flavor, so --if you're not into that -- add a little honey.
Have you tried nettle tea? What do you think of it?
Looking for the supplies I used in this tutorial? Find them here, via my referral links:
Mortar and Pestle
Reusable Tea Bags