Foraging for teas is a fun, inexpensive activity that allows you to try using plants in a new way and appreciate the “weeds” in your garden.
With the coming of spring and warmer weather, I have been wanting to get out in the garden more. The sun brings with it warmth and energy, making me feel much better in general.
With the beautiful weather enticing me to get outside more, I’ve been spending more time in the garden and noticing all of the “weeds.” Rather than get rid of them all, I decided to take advantage of their nutrients and save some of them for herbal teas.
Have you ever done that?
To be honest, I wasn’t even aware that a lot of the plants that grow wild in my garden are full of nutrients and perfect for eating, but now that I know, I’m hooked.
My favorite wild plants for herbal teas:
Today I’ll be showing you some of the “weeds” that I can find in my garden and use for herbal teas.
This is probably my least favorite “weed” when I’m weeding in the garden because when you touch it without gloves, it “stings” you. On the other hand, it’s probably my favorite wild plant for herbal teas.
I had read years ago about how you can cook nettles and eat them like spinach; so I decided to try it. When cooking them, they no longer sting, but I still didn’t love eating cooked nettles.
It wasn’t until seeing a fellow blogger, Sarah from Real Food Outlaws, recommend it in a postpartum tea, that the light bulb went on. I could forage for my own and infuse it into an herbal tea!
I have since tried them that way, and have found a new appreciation for them.
You should choose the younger plants, pulling off some of the top leaves with gloved hands. You can then boil them in water fresh, and strain the leaves out of your tea. Or you can dry them, after harvesting and rinsing them, to be able to enjoy them year round. That’s a great way to do it because they are best harvested at the beginning of spring before they get hard and fibrous.
Nettle is very nutritive and can help with everything from allergies and asthma to hypertension and menstrual cramps.
Read more about its benefits here.
You can also use nettles in smoothies! Here’s my recipe for a nettle smoothie.
They are very handy plants to have around. Here you can read about 20 surprising ways you can use stinging nettles!
There are different species of mallows, all of which can be medicinal, and none of which are poisonous.
They are said to help cure coughs, and can be used to sooth an acidic stomach or diarrhea, or skin affected by burns or stings.
You can read more about it here.
They are plentiful in my yard, and I have never liked them much because they have a strong root that makes them difficult to pull, but learning about their usefulness makes me hate them a little less.
If it works, this might be the most useful “weed” for my family because we are plagued by skin conditions.
Just as the eczema patch on my skin has cleared up with the removal of sugar and gluten from my diet, my son’s eczema has been getting progressively worse. While we have made a few mild changes to his diet, I’m not ready to make any radical changes just yet.
This week I made a new cream for him that seems to be helping him quite a bit already. If it proves to keep working well, I promise to share it with you. Meanwhile, I am also experimenting with macerating some plantain leaves in olive oil to use on his skin.
There are several types of plantain herbs, some with broader leaves, and others with narrower leaves. All of them are said to be almost miraculous for healing sores and other skin problems, but they can also be used in infusions or eaten, and are said to help with everything from diarrhea to bronchitis.
You can read more about the benefits of plantain here.
Olive Leaf tea
This may not be so commonly found in all parts of the world, but olive trees grow wild in my area.
I can find unsprayed olive trees on my mountain hikes, but I also have an olive tree at my house from which I can harvest some leaves for tea. My tree is a bit ugly right now as we have uprooted and moved it to a new location and heavily pruned the leaves to make up for the reduction in roots. It seems to be adapting, though, and I was able to use the leaves I pruned for infusions.
Olive leaf tree is said to have more antioxidants and vitamin C than green tea. It is also antiviral, and helps to lower blood pressure and prevent heart disease. Diabetics should be careful with it because it can also lower your blood sugar.
You can read more about the health benefits here.
Foraging for teas is fun!
It’s a shame that most people don’t realize how useful the many weeds and wild plants in their area can be.
Living on a mountain here in the Mediterranean region, I’m extremely lucky to have access to a variety of beneficial wild plants. I can find wild herbs like lavender, thyme and rosemary and also see wild olive, fig and carob trees, but I like to make use of everything I find around me, even the less obvious plants.
Do you do the same?
I’d love to hear about what plants you have around you that you use in unexpected ways.
Keep in mind that you should do your own research when it comes to using these (and other) plants and herbs, particularly when children will be using/consuming them. Use your own discretion and common sense about how to use them, quantity, etc. The information provided here should not be used for diagnosing or treating health problems or diseases, nor is it substitute for professional care.
Thuli Precious Ndlela
Thanks you very much i am in South Africa i have learned alot through your post i can’t believe that we used to destroyed all the health weeds but since i started learning from your post i am even helping other people about the health benefits of our backyards weeds.parselene and plantain and mellow are my favourates because it is easy to find them here
Tracy Ariza, DDS
Umi Tea Sets
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I actually switch from drinking coffee in the morning to drinking teas, especially green tea after I’ve learned of the several health benefits they provide to your body.
I prefer tea myself. I don’t handle the caffeine from coffee as well as the caffeine from tea.
Grew up always learning about the wild plants that grew in the woods near our house. And you don’t see it as much anymore. And enjoy reading your articles about the teas.
Yes,I’ve grew up eating the nettles as spinach. Also my dad would use the tea or water off the nettles as a dandruff remover when washing your hair.
That’s awesome! I just recently learned that nettles are great for your hair. I may need to make use of that for one of my newer DIY projects. 🙂
Your link on learn more about plantain doesn’t work it goes to olive
Oops! Thanks for the heads up!
I’ll have to look for a new information source there as it’s been awhile and I don’t’ remember where I had found the good info. I really appreciate you taking the time to let me know! 🙂
I made plantain with witch hazel decoction and was impressed how a sting from a bee disappeared immediately and no swelling and no sign of sting few hours later, it does not smell that good but works great!!!
Thanks for your comment! That’s really interesting.
I started to infuse the plantain in oil, but forgot about it and eventually threw it away. I’ve been meaning to try it again. Hearing your story makes me want to give it another try!
I live in Kentucky and “Docks” are very prevalent in our area. “Burr Dock” and Curly Dock” mostly. I gather them and treat them like any green. Spinach, collards, chard, and the like. I can them and they are great with a drizzle of bacon grease and bits of ham….so good.
We have a lot of chard growing in our yard, too. My mother in law likes to come over and pick them to eat. I wish I liked them just little bit more myself. 😉
You said the olive tree? Is that the same as the Russian olive tree?we had them in Kansas. I have not seen too many inTexas.
I’m referring to the common olive tree found in the mediterranean region. (Olea europaea)
I live in Spain, so it’s more of a local option for me.
I realize that most people reading are from the US (like me originally), so you probably won’t have easy access to it, but I wanted to include it because I just made a bunch of tea from the leaves of my tree and wanted to show it off. 🙂