Nettle “Tea”

by Patricia Eddy on April 8, 2009

I cannot believe I waited this long to try nettles. I’ve seen them at the farmers markets since I moved to Seattle almost almost 4 years ago now and I admit, the name scared me away. Stinging nettles. Stinging.

Nettle Tonic

Nettle Tonic

Sting. Ouch. Why would I try those? Now that I’ve spent some time with them though, I really enjoy them in a wide variety of ways. I’ve made risotto and soup, and lately I’ve been having a lot of nettle “tea”. I put tea in quotes because technically there are no actual tea leaves in this drink, so really, it is more of a tonic or tincture than anything else. But still, it’s excellent hot, possibly better cold, and is my new drink of choice when I don’t want water or something alcoholic these days.

Fresh nettles will sting you, but boiling them or drying them will cause the nettles to lose their sting. Even boiling as little as 3 minutes can take away the sting of nettles. Drying the nettles, however, takes a bit more time.  I’ve been drying my nettles for about 12-15 hours. If you have a dehydrator, you can (carefully) arrange the nettles on the dehydrator and set it to low for about 8 hours. However, my antique gas stove has a pilot light that keeps the oven at a constant very low temperature. I’ve simply spread my nettles out on a cookie sheet and let them sit for 12-15 hours. When I return, they are perfectly dried.

Now, once I had dried nettles, I took a bunch of them, shoved them into a tea pot’s tea basket and poured hot water over them. Ten minutes later, I had tonic.

But wait, there’s more! I spoke to Foraged and Found at the Ballard Farmers Market last weekend and they suggested brewing the nettles even longer. In fact, they suggested letting the nettles steep overnight, thus infusing the tonic with even more of the nettles’ health benefits. So this past weekend, I put a bunch of dried nettles into my sun tea pot with some hot water and let them sit overnight. I strained out the nettles and refrigerated the tonic.

I’ve really been enjoying the tonic. It has a green tea type flavor, but brewing the tonic overnight gives it a bit of sweetness. I don’t usually like unsweetened tea, but I can drink this straight with no sweetener at all. Nettle tonic has mild diuretic properties as well as detoxifies the kidneys and has antiinflammatory properties. Nettles will be in season for at least another 6-8 weeks so stock up now. You can get a big bag of fresh nettles for $3 at the farmers markets or get a smaller bag of pre-dried nettles for the same price. Really, you’ll end up with just about the same amount of nettles either way as the nettles do lose volume when they are dried.

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{ 6 comments }

Lang April 9, 2009 at 7:19 pm

Good to see I’m not the only one swilling this stuff down like a drunken sailor. Will try your overnight brewing method.

Cheers,
Lang

Lang’s last blog post..Wilted Dandy Salad

Patricia Eddy April 9, 2009 at 7:23 pm

I’ve really been enjoying the overnight brew. In fact, I’m having some right now!

Patricia Eddy April 10, 2009 at 10:51 am

So now I’m wondering too… once the tea is brewed, and the dehydrated leaves are rehydrated, could you use them in a risotto? I know they wouldn’t have the same properties as they did prior to brewing, as many of the nutrients would have been used up, but I’m assuming some would remain. Hmmm…

matt wright April 27, 2009 at 1:11 pm

Drinking a cup of this right now actually. I am ashamed to say that yesterday was the first day I tried nettle tea.. I was ready to wince, and spit the stuff down the sink, but the taste is bloody lovely. One of my new favorite teas I have to say! I like the overnight tea cold, and the regular 10minute steep hot.

Fantastic stuff.

matt wright’s last blog post..Beef Wellington

Debbie M May 3, 2009 at 8:47 am

Hi,

Mu husband and I are trying this for the first time. Can someone give me a receipt for brewing the tea? I pourchased 1 lb from a herb farm but have no idea how to brew the stuff. Do I boil it and then chill it of let it be like “sumn tea”/ How mush nettle do I use for 2 quarts of water?

thanks for your help.

Debbie

Patricia Eddy May 3, 2009 at 9:43 am

If you are starting with fresh nettle it is best to dry it first. You do not need to boil if it you dry it. Just spread it out on a cookie sheet (wearing gloves) and dry it in a 100 degree oven or in the sun for about 8 hours. Or use a dehydrator. I have a gas oven with a pilot light and I just put it in the oven when just the pilot is lit and that does it.

As for how much… that’s really subjective. I grab at least 2 handfuls for 2 quarts of water. Once the nettles are fully dried they do not sting any more, so you can safely use your bare hands.

If I’m brewing a pot of tea, I just fill the tea ball strainer with dried nettles. I don’t pack them down very much, so whatever fits in the tea ball.

There isn’t an exact right or wrong amount of nettles to use. If you’re letting the tea brew for 24 hours, like I do, you can get by with slightly less.

Regarding boiling it and then cooling that for tea… that might also be good. I don’t think it would be bad for you but I’ve never tried it that way.

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