Take a Walk on Tea’s Wild Side

wild flowers for tea
Only the boldest—and most reckless—among tea drinkers have tried it.  To drink it, one must possess a certain amount of confidence and savoir faire.  No, it’s not some new metropolitan or socialite brew.  It’s certifiably wild, rustic, and homespun—it’s the stuff from which Grimm’s Fairy Tales are made!  What is it?  Tisanes made from some exotic stuff that you probably never realized you could drink!There are several ways to go about collecting your tea’s ingredients.  You can find them in many places (although probably not at your grocery store, or any store, for that matter).
To create the wildest of teas, you may want to take a walk in the park, in the forest, or around a campground.  Sometimes you can even find your material peeking up between sidewalk cracks in the city.  Summer is the season of exploration and discovering new teas.  What kinds of flora should you gather for your cauldron?  Consult this list of suggestions (and get a guide book with photographs for distinguishing physical traits):
1.    Verveine, or Lemon Verbena:  It is in full bloom in summer.  The flowers are a yellow, milky color and are sometimes pink.  It can get very large and puts forth a lot of flowers and leaves.  I have used it in tea to harness a relaxing effect.  It can be very calming on the stomach, but don’t drink too much of it!  Use only a few petals or leaves.
2.    Little Wild Rose:  You may not think to eat flowers unless you’ve seen Monsoon Wedding.  Even if you’re not a fan of Bollywood or Indian movies, flowers (especially wild roses) are delicious in salads and teas.  It’s hard not to find them when you get a whiff of their intoxicating, though mild fragrance.  If you don’t want your tea to be too acidic, boil for less than ten minutes.  Drink it with Verveine, if you are interested in seeing
how the two mesh.
3.   Yarrow:  Yarrow is easiest to find if you live in the Southwestern United States.  It is a diaphoretic that helps with circulation (it has several other medicinal benefits too).  To enjoy it, add two leaves to boiling water.  Sweeten it with honey, if you like.  Like Verveine, you should be careful to not use too much or drink it too frequently unless you live next door to a homeopathic doctor.
4.   Calendula, or Marigolds: To make it, steep a few dried flowers in very hot water for less than six minutes.  You can mix it with other flowers and herbs, or just drink it alone.  It will help detoxify your body and improve your immune system.
Originally published at http://www.tching.com
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