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  • Paul Tappenden

More Tea Anyone?

The thing I like most about medicinal teas, is that anyone can make them. You pour hot water over a herb, wait a bit, then drink it.

For most of my life, I have been an avid camper, I have slept in tents, survival shelters and lean-tos and under the stars. I have camped in the rain forests, the mountains and the deserts, and I’ve always been able to make tea, whether I’ve used my portable kettle or have had to drop hot stones into half a coconut filled with water.

My point is, we don’t need to be intimidated at the thought of making tea. If I can manage to do it on the side of a mountain in a rain storm, using plants I gathered from around me, you can do it in your kitchen with some dried herbs from your cupboard.

The next obstacle the beginner tea drinker faces, is a plethora (I don’t think I’ve used that word before) of herbs to choose from and little knowledge of their uses. Like anything else in life, the idea is to start simple. Go out into the yard and pick a sprig of mint and start with that.

To really enjoy exploring teas it is good to have a few dried herbs on hand. You could go to your nearest health food store or apothecary and stock up on some interesting herbs, but that can be expensive, especially when the average yard is home to any number of plants that can be dried to make teas.

Most of the folks who follow me know a fair number of “weeds” by name, and know whether they are edible or not. That is a good place to begin. Why not go out and collect samples of half a dozen familiar plants and use them to make teas.

Start out by drying them. Then go and gather some fresh samples. Compare the teas made with the fresh herb and the dried herb (use twice as much fresh herb for similar results). Next, compare the flavor of a tea left to brew for five minute with one left for a couple of hours. That should keep you busy for a while. And we haven’t even gotten onto the subject of decoctions and blends.

When we look at all the possibilities, there are probably dozens ways of making a cup of tea with a single herb. I once did that with Stinging nettle. I was able to come up with a surprising number of versions and what really surprised me was that every one tasted different.

A lot of fun can be had creating tea blends of various flavors, appearance and medicinal powers, especially when all the ingredients are locally harvested.

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