Nettle tea is the mainstay of my life. I drink a cup most days, and I also like to add it into the mix when brewing other herbal tisanes. I feel it provides a more rounded and mellow flavour to whatever I’m brewing. This year, and due to our plot being bare over winter, nettle also happened to be my first harvest of the season. It’s best to pick the young shoots from the tips of the plants – wear gloves to avoid being stung! I’m not a medical practitioner so I advise anyone reading this to seek professional advice to determine whether this herb is suitable for you.
Nettle is best collected at the start of spring when the shoots are young and tender. After harvesting the tips I cut the nettles down to the ground to encourage new growth. Luckily for me, our allotment association doesn’t seem to mind me having nettles on our plot.
Nettles can be picked fresh and added straight to hot water to make tea, but I like to pick nettles in batches, dry it, and store in jars ready for use. To prepare it in this manner I wash the nettles in cold water before steaming them for 30 seconds.
Once steamed I pat them dry on kitchen towel to remove as much of the excess water as I can.
There’s a number of different ways to dry the leaves. You can put them on a baking tray and place in your oven on the lowest setting until they are dry. I generally tend to either place the baking tray on our stove top if the fire is in, or use a dehydrator. I keep the dehydrator on its lowest heat setting and check every hour until the nettles are dry. It only takes a couple of hours. Once dry, store them in an airtight, sterilised container.
Making the Tea:
If using fresh nettles, add them directly to a pan of hot water and bring to a near boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for a couple of minutes.
If using dry nettles, add 1 teaspoon of nettles per cup to a tea pot, pour over water that has not quite boiled, leave to steep for 5 minutes, and strain into a cup.
If, like me, you have one of those nifty cups that has a strainer, place 1 teaspoon of nettles into the strainer, add water that’s just off the boil, cover the cup to stop all the essential oils from the nettles evaporating, and steep for 5 minutes. Once done, remove the strainer and enjoy your tea. If you want a stronger flavour tea leave the leaves to steep for a little longer.