"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Friday, December 25, 2009

Sweet Tea

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.:)

29 comments:

granny said...

Good morning Mr H. Merry Christmas to you and your family,I hope you had a wonderful day :0)
I have never been that fond of Herbal Teas,but in saying that..Ive only tried the store bought ones,so maybe I should give fresh tea ago !They look so good,and I know they have many health benefits too.Cross dressing,not being one,(what a laugh !)

Emma said...

This is so interesting... I'm off to look up clovers I can grow in my garden :) Thank you!

Mr. H. said...

Granny,

I used to drink green tea and liked that but the good stuff became so expensive I don't buy it anymore. It's kind of fun seeing my wife make tea out of herbs we have foraged or grown ourselves. No squeaks in my voice yet either.:) Christmas was good...thanks.

Diane@Peaceful Acres said...

Merry Christmas Mike! Your wife's tea sounds wonderfully healing. I'll have to try it....I love herbal teas and I love blending my own. Trouble is I never write down the amounts I throw in and I can't replicate it again! But that's just me!

Our son was feeling under the weather Christmas Eve morning and he wanted my chicken soup which I keep in the freezer...made with lots of bone broth. Then I convinced him to drink my elderberry syrup and within and hour he was up and feeling great....it could be that his best girl stopped by....but I'd like to believe it was the elderberry!!!!! :D I haven't harvested my blossoms yet, since I was trying to let the tree mature and provide me with lots of berries. But last year I harvest 6 gallons of berries so I think that this year I can steal some of the blossoms. The cows have pruned it back for me and so I'll have to fence it off so they don't get all the good stuff come spring.

(OK...I must ask...do you pick your verification word???? hahaha rednex!!! that's good!)

Mr. H. said...

Emma,

Were lucky in that clover grows everywhere around here. I think we counted 3 different types on our property and at least 2 other varieties growing in the woods where we pick berries.

The red and white clovers seem to be well suited for our garden as they come up everywhere, whether I want them to or not. I'm hoping to establish more crimson clovers in the future.

Mr. H. said...

Diane,

I'm a firm believer in elderberries as well. We picked a few gallons this summer and use them in our smoothies each morning. I have not tried making a syrup out of them but should do so in the future.

I finally figured out that our blue elderberry bushes seem to do better when pruned. I had one in the garden that must have been over 10 years old and I cut it down to about 2 feet, by the end of summer it was tall enough to be hanging over the roof of the barn and has never looked better, full of berries too.

Isn't it amazing how the verification words seem to match the articles (or author) content sometimes...but no, I don't pick them.:)

Heiko said...

Happy late Christmas Mike,
I had a traumatic experience with herbal tea as a child. Being Dutch, I was brought up on black tea from early on. When I entered Kindergarten they tried to put some herbal concoction into me. When my Dad collected me that afternoon I came running out shouting: "Daddy, Daddy, they tried to poison me!" I must try and see a professional to get over this trauma and taste your brew some time (even if it does turn out the feminine side in me!).

Mr. H. said...

Heiko,

Happy late Christmas to you as well. That does sound traumatic, but good news! I can diagnose you right now, you have an acute case of herbal tea toxiphobia.

Apparently the treatment for herbal tea toxiphobia is a process of continual development and refinement. Initial cognitive therapy is needed, aimed at helping the person to realise that he is a survivor, and that there is no reason to suppose that an accidental teacher induced tea poisoning that happened once while in kindergarten will be repeated. Therapy using the person's imagination, and the use of video-taped material may be helpful.

I hope this information was useful.:)

Stefaneener said...

sounds pretty good. My kids love fresh lemonade made with honey heated when they're sick. I had better get squeezing today!

Heiko said...

Thanks for the tip Mike. I shall have to try that out, you never know what the outcome will be. If I end up a complete wreck in some psychiatric unit I shall sue you! ;-)

Mr. H. said...

Stefaneenr,

Honey and lemon will do the trick. We just got our grandson back last night after he had done the "Christmas tour" for the past few days and he seems pretty pale and sickly himself.

Mr. H. said...

Heiko,

I will most likely be in the room next door to you for impersonating a psychiatrist. We will have many opportunities to discuss both law suites and gardening...it could be fun.:)

Mama JJ said...

In my humble opinion, nothing, absolutely NOTHING, can replace coffee. Ever.

daylesford organics said...

I love this post Mr H! Gorgeous pics and lots of interesting facts but unfortunately I have to agree with you on the last sentence.
Love Kate

Sylvie said...

Such a lovely combination, and one that seem to strengthen the immune system too, Mr. H. I don't believe it's a coincidence that your grand son was healthier.

For the first time, this past year I collected some elderblossoms and made a syrup for lemonade - it was delicious and gone way too fast. Lesson: make a lot more. But I was worried about the toxic substance that (I read) are everywhere but the flowers and the ripe berries, so it took me a long time to snip off the fresh tiny blossoms from the stems. Do you ever use the fresh blossoms, and if so how do you prepare them?

Mr. H. said...

Mama JJ,

I can't argue with you one that one. I love coffee, strong caffeinated coffee. The tea is wonderful for its medicinal properties and even tastes good but still not a viable replacement for the stimulatiing qualities of coffee.

Mr. H. said...

Kate,

Thanks! Yes, coffee is in a category of its own. Other than having to give some consideration to the expense of the organic coffee we buy I would not question this vise of mine at all. I certainly don't think it is bad for a person to drink it in some moderation. Actually quite the opposite is true, I have no doubt that coffee is a very healthy beverage and one that I am not ready to part with anytime soon.:)

Mr. H. said...

Sylvie,

As you deduced, I'm pretty sure one only has to worry about the toxicity of elderberries if they are not ripe. We have never used the flowers fresh but do pick them that way and use them dried. Fresh or dried they could still be used in tea or to make a nice syrup. I'm glad you had the opportunity to try the blossoms.:)

Heiko said...

Oh and one other question: which bit of the clover do you use? Flowers? Leaves? Both?

Mr. H. said...

Heiko,

We pick the flowers with a tuft of the leaves directly under them. You can use more of the leaves though.

Another thing we do is add the fresh clover flowers and some raspberry leaves to a gallon jar of water and let it sit in the sun for a day or more for a nice sun tea.

Both raspberry leaves and the clover are and excellent source of many minerals and vitamins, including lots of calcium. I often add them fresh, diced up, and in small amounts, to our salads.

WeekendFarmer said...

Sounds good.

ok... I am putting in my 'order' for some of the echinecia and other herbal mix: ). You should sell some online. Or, maybe, we can barter honey.....

Silke said...

Good morning, Mike! I hope you and Mrs. H. and your family had a good Christmas! I love your post on the herbal tea. Over the years, I've gotten away from coffee altogether except the occasional espresso. I've become a tea drinker - black and herbal. I sometimes drink green tea, except it's mostly too bitter for me. And I don't like fruit teas that are really sour. But your herbal tea sounds wonderful to me!! I'm glad your grandson love it... Sunny greetings from Savannah! :) SIlke

WeekendFarmer said...

Sorry about the delay in the an-pan recipe. I was trying the best way to give you the directions. Here is the anko (sweet red bean paste) kind. You can also fill them with a bit of cheese and steamed veggies. Let me know how you make out.

http://www.japan-guide.com/forum/quereadisplay.html?0+43396

And here is a steamed bun recipe that you might enjoy as well...

http://weekendfarmer.blogspot.com/2008/01/steamed-buns.html#links

Mr. H. said...

WeekendFarmer,

Thank you for the an-pan recipe links. This gives me some really good ideas on how it is made and we are looking forward to trying it.

I wish we had enough tea to barter for honey. If you really want to try some of my much better half's tea blend let me know and I will gladly send you a sample this next summer when we put some more together. We did not harvest near enough echinacea roots this past summer as we had no idea that we would find it to be such a beneficial brew.

Mr. H. said...

Silke,

We had a good Christmas, thank you. I wish I could escape coffee, but I like it way too much. I suppose if the price continues to increase I will have to say goodbye to it once and for all.

We will most likely continue to focus on different tea that can be made from the various herbs and such that grow in our garden or the wilds of our area. I am looking forward to trying out more of these interesting concoctions. Wish me luck.:)

Mrs. Mac said...

We have white, red and yellow clover growing wild ... I'll have to remember about the echinacea roots .. do they survive over winter in the soil? I bet the combination is divine :O) All of the ingredients bring give good healing properties to your sweet tea mix.

Mr. H. said...

Mrs. Mac,

You and I are so lucky in that many of these herbs like clover and elderberry grow wild in our area. The echinacea thrives in this climate and does overwinter quite well.

LynnS said...

Like you, I love my coffee but realize the cost will probably make it prohibitively expensive.

We have red clover here but not enough to create such a beautiful mix as you have. And to think I could've used those phytoestrogens a few years back!

I've made some of my own herbal teas and buy some commercial brands. I was just given acai tea for Christmas and I must say it is not only the best-scented tea, but the most flavorful tea I've had. Delicious!

Here's hoping that if the Herb Lady creates a potion to get you to cross-dress, she'll also get your photo posted on this blog!

Mr. H. said...

Lynn,

I'll look into the acai tea, I have never heard of it. Micki will have to share her experience regarding clover with you some time...very interesting to say the least. I, on the other hand, am not too worried about wearing dresses, and if I do...YIKES! someone please shoot me before the pictures are posted.:)

Related Posts with Thumbnails