How To | Homemade Hibiscus Tea

I wish this next story was my own, but it’s not. It’s my mother’s.

She and my dad traveled down to Brazil to visit family and they stopped in a little artisanal shop in the countryside of Sao Paulo state. A rather old, withered kind of man ran a little shop and at the time of my parents’ arrival, he was harvesting dried hibiscus flowers and bagging them up for tea!

Oh the joy!

She brought back a tin full for me and it smells like a juicy tropical heaven baked in the sweet spring sun. Are hibiscus flowers edible? Because that’s exactly what I wanted to do.

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Now, as we waved goodbye to my parents after they came back from their trip to bring gifts to our house, I took notice of something. I have two large hibiscus bushes on either side of our house. By large, I mean 7 feet tall. Around the base of the twin hibiscuses (hibisci??), there are dozens and dozens of fallen, dried hibiscus flowers.


*lightbulb*

What if I made my own fresh hibiscus tea and even attempted to dry some flowers to store for later?

Oooooooh, the DIYer in me surged through my nerves!

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HIBISCUS FACTS
  • Native to tropic and subtropic regions, the hibiscus plant has several hundred different varieties of the hibiscus plant.
  • Hibiscus tea is more commonly made from Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, native to East Asia and has vivid red petals.
  • In Hawaiian tradition, if a girl wears a hibiscus flower in her left ear, she is married or in a relationship. If worn on the right ear, she’s single!
HIBISCUS BENEFITS
  • High in Vitamin C and anti-oxidants.
  • Aids in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol and is a natural anti-inflammatory.
  • Generally speaking, Hibiscus tea is safe to drink, though not advised when pregnant or breastfeeding.

DRYING HIBISCUS FLOWERS

  1. harvest your hibiscus flowers
  2. pick the petals off individually or remove the stamen (the long thing in the middle that has the pollen at the end of it) and the green leaf cap at the base of the flower if you want to keep the flower intact.
  3. give them a good rinse in a colander and pat them dry.
  4. in a tea towel, an herb net dryer, or a clean old sheet that you don’t mind getting stained, arrange the hibiscus petals in full sun (this also works well if you have a dehydrator in your kitchen for 45 minutes to an hour).
  5. Let them fully dry in the sun. If it takes more than a day, move them inside so they don’t get wet with dew overnight. The key is to remove the moisture.
  6. Store dried petals in an airtight container!PicMonkey Collage
A CUPPA HIBISCUS TEA
  1. Use 10 fresh hibiscus flowers or 1/4 of dried hibiscus petals for every 4 cups of freshly boiled water
  2. let steep for 10-20 minutes, depending on how strong you like your hibiscus tea
  3. add lime juice, mint and/or honey to taste!img_1664.jpg

I hope you enjoyed this one as much as I did, tea lovers!

Keep on steeping,
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Herbal Tea Feature | Stinging Nettle

(First of all, I’m sorry. I went MIA this last month because we bought a house and are up to our eyeballs in renos and unpacking. I know it’s not really an excuse, but you as my reader at least deserves the satisfaction to the reason behind my tea drought. But, let’s get on with the show! )

So, guys. You will not believe what I stepped in and my new backyard (with no grass…it’s all weeds) that made half of my foot going numb and it stung and it itch like crazy.

Unbeknownst to me, there is wild stinging nettle growing in my backyard. Even my husband, kids, and dog we’re playing in the backyard and noticed that something was stinging them. So naturally, as any curious person would do, I went on the inter-webs to research what in the Sam hill stinging nettle is.

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By the way, there’s some really ridiculous things on the Internet. For example, people doing stinging nettle challenges where you take a stinging nettle bath, or jump into shrubs of it to prove I don’t know what.

I digress.

Stinging nettle is a weed like plant like dandelion with heart shaped leaves and little hairs on the stems and leaves that irritate the skin due to the formic acid. It stings when touched just as the name suggests and can leave rashes bumps or even a small little welts.

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However, it makes a very beneficial tea that can help with circulation, detoxification, cleansing, respiratory problems, arthritic problems, prostate and is even an energy builder. It’s an excellent source of chlorophyll, vitamins A, C, D, K, iron and also an antiseptic. History even holds nettle as a finer fabric than even cotton or linen.

Like a very reasonable and sensible person, I was up for the challenge and faced the stinging nettle plant with all that I had. I was able to harvest a little bit of it to see what kind of tea I could coax out of it. by steeping the leaves in hot water, the stinging little “hairs” and formic acid are destroyed so there’s no chance of me drinking herbal needles that numb.

Word to the wise, if you feel brave enough to confront a stinging nettle plant, you’ve been warned. Be prepared with thick clothing, closed shoes and gloves so that you do not irritate your skin when handling it.

how to make nettle tea:

Harvest several stems of nettle (use gloves!!!!!).

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Give them a good rinse.

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In a teapot, add freshly boiled water and toss in the nettle leaves. I didn’t remove them from the stems because of all the stinging hairs.

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Let it steep and enjoy!

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You could also used dried nettle to make tea, but since I had them growing outside, I just used fresh ones.

I hope you enjoyed this little feature on such a strange plant!

Keep steeping, tea lovers!

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Herbal Tea Feature | Peppermint

Ask my husband. Ask my friends. Ask anybody who knows me. They’ll tell you “Ingrid always falls asleep!”

I’m not the kind of person to stay up late and sometimes it seems like I need more sleep than most to make it through my day.

UNTIL PEPPERMINT INVADED.

Let’s set the scene, shall we?

We’re staying at a friends house and we love staying up and hanging out together. I’m usually the one who falls asleep on my husband’s shoulder when we’re sitting on the couch, and I’m infamous for falling asleep through movies.

Who falls asleep during Princess Bride?! TWICE?!!!!

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Until I found that when I drink peppermint tea in the evenings, I can make it through. There’s something uplifting, energizing and mind-clearing about this tea (I later learned it’s called menthol) that maybe will replace my morning coffee. Maybe.

(By the way, have you ever stopped to think that coffee could arguably be an herbal tea?!) #steepthat

But what’s even more interesting, is that Peppermint tea is more widely known for a different benefit! Peppermint tea helps even more with digestion, which is something I’ve had to regularly deal with, and i’ll tell you what, drink one or two of these babies right when you get up, and your whole insides will be awaaaaaake!

OK, enough of that kind of talk. Let’s get into the reasons I’m totally fan-girling (tea-girling? fan-teaing?) over a cup of pure, hot peppermint tea!

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Native to Europe, Mint actually has hundreds of varieties like Russian mint, peppermint, red mint, and spearmint to name a few. So next time you buy some mint tea, check what kind of mint it is and what other herbs and spices were added!

The cooling, minty freshness comes from the Menthol content in the leaves of the plant and is commonly found in dental hygiene products, and topical pain reliever creams. In fact, the menthol content is different in each mint variety. For example, Spearmint ( or Moroccan Nana Mint) has minimal amounts. Something to the tune of less than 1%. Peppermint, on the other hand, has the likes of 40%!

Peppermint also helps with congestion, stress, nausea, bloating, alertness, bad breath, anti-inflammatory, and is even a mild appetite suppressant! Ladies and gents, this basically means that you need to have peppermint in your pantries if you don’t already or you grow your own mint!

On that note, here’s a cool (pun intended) recipe I tried: fresh peppermint leaves and a couple of orange peels from a fresh orange in freshly boiled water. the oils in the orange skin blends so well with the cooling peppermint!

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Also, peppermint pairs well with citrus fruits, tropical fruits, melons, mediterranean foods, milk or dark chocolate and mojitos. lots and lots of mojitos. Amiright?!

I hope my little tea feature on peppermint helps you or inspires you to give it a try!

Keep on steeping, tea lovers!

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sources: “20,000 Secrets of Tea” By Victoria Zak and  http://foodiegardener.com/grow-mint-indoors-spearmint-and-peppermint/

 

How I Kept My Cold at Bay During the New Year

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”  – Hippocrates

…and indeed it was!

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I wasn’t really sure where to begin  my new blog. where does one start?!

I thought about pulling a Frauline Maria and “start at the very beginning” and go through the Do-Re-Mi’s of teas, but that sounded a bit too predictable.

In the meantime, I had been battling a suffocating cold since New Year’s Day that hindered both my breathing and my thinking. Two days and nearly a whole bottle of Theraflu later, it was getting worse.

I’ve GOT to do something else…

I’m not even sure (#1) what triggered the thought, and (#2) why I didn’t think of it before, but I was a the grocery store picking up dog food and stopped by the tea and coffee aisle like I religiously do EVERY time I’m there. I rummage through a couple of boxes of tea and finally decide on the Echinacea Plus tea from Traditional Medicinals. It was worth a shot! If it doesn’t work, at least I’ve got more delicious tea to steep and sip!

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I’m not kidding you when I tell you this. I drank 1 cup and a half that afternoon and my coworkers were already commenting that I sounded better! By the next day, the cold was 90% gone.

WHAT?!

(Just to clear the air, I bought my teas with my own money, this is not sponsored or a colab. It’s my personal experience and research I did! OK? OK!)

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Here’s the scoop on Echinacea, tea lovers:

Echinacea, or purple coneflower, is a plant native to North America and found mostly in rocky prairie-like areas. the above-ground plant is mostly used for medicinal purposes, although the roots also have health benefits as well. Echinacea has immune-boosting properties and commonly used in pill form, extracts, syrups and you’ve guessed it, TEA!
Now, let’s get really nerdy:
Out of the several species of echinacea, Echinacea Purpurea is the one that is commonly used and found in teas, supplements, and tinctures. There are certain polysaccharides within the echinacea plant that boosts our immune systems, and is a short-term treatment for upper respiratory infections.
According to the university of Maryland Medical Center, “a review of 14 clinical trials found that echinacea reduced the odds of developing a cold by 58% and the duration of a cold by 1 to 4 days.” Essentially, the polysaccharides in Echinacea increase white cell production to fight off viruses!
Let’s replace the lab coat for an apron and go into the ways that we can use Echinacea at home:
  1. TEA: I used the Traditional Medicinals Echinacea Plus (I’m not endorsed by them. I just picked them because they are US-based, organic, and non-GMO verified.)
  2. Tinctures, syrups, extracts or drops: I have not personally tried these before but in my research, I read a lot of positive reviews about the health benefits to using drops and tinctures. If anyone is interested, I’m planning on creating a DIY Echinacea tincture!
  3. Pills: You can also buy over-the-counter Echinacea pills, but I also haven’t personally tried these. Just word to the wise: Most standard supplements will claim to have echinacea, in reality have less than 10% echinacea and the rest is filler. So, do your research before purchasing!

Keep in mind that when you’re buying anything that you’re going to ingest, please make sure that you’re buying good quality ingredients. PLEASE check with a doctor before taking anything, as I’m not a medical expert or doctor.

BUUUUUT…..since I’m primarily focusing on herbal teas and have personally tried the Echinacea tea, that is what I’d recommend next time you’re feeling a little under the weather and need to kick that cold to the curb! Go for high quality loose leaf echinacea tea (fresh from our garden is ideal!) and natural/ organic topical products.

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This is how I would imagine if I had a lovely garden with Echinacea…sadly, I live in Florida and no such beautiful thing as this exists! Only in my dreams for now…

I’m actually thinking of planting some Echinacea plants as part of my herbal tea journey!

Thank you for stopping by my humble herbal tea blog! It means the world to me that you stopped by, enjoyed a cuppa and accompanied me through my Echinacea journey….although, something tells me that this won’t be the last time Echinacea makes an appearance!

Keep on steeping, tea lovers!

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