A couple months ago our grandson came down with some sort of stomach ailment, perhaps the flu. On a whim, his grandmother prepared a concoction of various dried herbs that included echinacea, mint, our favorite clovers, lemon balm, elderberry flowers, and various other herbs. Steeped on the wood stove for 30 minutes with a heaping teaspoon of honey added before serving and voila!...she had created the boys new favorite beverage, "Sweet Tea." Thusly named by the lad himself one day while attempting to request it, we've been calling it that ever since. His old favorite, hot chocolate, is now a thing of the past and no longer even asked for. We both feel much better with this choice of beverage and have noticed a significant decrease in both his colds and stomach ailments this season. Coincidence? Perhaps not.
Two ingredients that are always included in this sweet tea are echinacea and elderberry flowers. Echinacea, often referred to as a "natural antibiotic" is supposed to stimulate the immune system thus helping the body to fight off colds, flu, and viruses. We use the fresh & dried roots, leaves, and flowers. It did take a couple years for the roots to develop enough to use, but once a nice clump was established we found them easy to divide and transplant. The matured flower heads are fairly easy to collect seed from and between the seed and transplanted roots we should have an excellent medicinal source going forward.
Second year echinacea roots ready to be transplanted, the best roots come from bigger three year old plants.
Containing small amounts of essential oils elderberry flowers have have also been used in the past as remedy for colds, helping to ease sore throats and congestion. We try to pick them while still white and fresh, before they begin to yellow. My wife simply cuts the branches directly below the blossoms and allows them to dry someplace out of the sun until the tiny petals fall off or are easily removed.
We also pick a variety of different clovers for our tea that are kept in quart jars after they have been thoroughly dried. Clover, especially red clover is known to contain high amounts of phytoestrogens, which imitate the action of female hormones in the body thus helping with menopausal issues. I asked my dear wife just what this means to me and the boy, she said not to worry about it and focus on the fact that clover is also a good source of natural calcium and that the dried blossoms work as an expectorant and are a fitting addition to her infusion. OK honey, but if I start cross dressing...
I must say I have never been a huge fan of tea, it's been a flavor issue, but I am quite taken with this particular brew and drink it regularly. We all agree, sweet tea is the beverage for us. I just wish it was caffeinated so I would be more inclined to give up on coffee all together.:)