SUSTAINABLE LIVING: GROWING AND MAKING YOUR OWN TEA (PART 2)
TEA FROM SEEDS
Example: Coriandrum sativum, coriander or cilantro seeds for tea
Cilantro, sometimes referred to as Chinese parsley, is an aromatic herb popular for use in Indian foods such as chutneys and salads, in Chinese and Thai dishes, in Mexican salsas and guacamoles, and as a garnish in salads. It is an annual that will grow fast in cool spring weather but will quickly “bolt” and grow flowers that turn to seeds, called coriander in the United States, when the weather warms. The short growing season is frustrating for people who harvest the leaves, but welcomed by those who want to use the seeds to make tea. The tea is best made from a combination of seeds and leaves.
How to grow: Cilantro can be grown from seed but starter plants are often available at nursery centers. If growing from seed, plant directly in the ground as small cilantro seedlings often do not survive the transplanting process. If growing in a pot, choose one at least 12 inches deep because cilantro has a deep tap root.
How to harvest: Harvest leaves a few weeks before gathering the seeds (by the time the seeds are mature, the leaves will have become feathery and will be past their prime). Place the leaves on a dish in a warm, dark place, and when thoroughly dry store them in a sealed container. Wait until the seeds start to turn brown on the plant before harvesting them; cut long stems and hang them upside down in a warm place. When totally dry, store the seeds with the leaves (harvested earlier) in the sealed container.
How to make tea: Grind about 15 seeds in a mortar and pestle. Put the crushed seeds and two pinches of leaves into a tea bag. Warm a cup with hot water and discard the water. Place the tea bag in the cup and fill the cup with boiling water. Cover the cup with a saucer or lid and allow the tea to steep for four minutes. Remove the tea bag and enjoy.
Medicinal benefits: Cilantro is a digestive aid and sometimes has been used to help people recover from food poisoning.
Bonus tip: Cilantro is susceptible to mildew, so remove any infected leaves immediately.
Other choices: Liversidge includes fennel and fenugreek as two other plants that produce seeds that can be used to make tea.
TEA FROM FRUIT
Example: Rosa rugosa, rosehips for tea
Rose hips are the bulblike fruit that forms on roses after they have been pollinated by bees. If you want to try rose hip tea, be sure to leave the flower heads on the plants as the petals age and drop. Be aware that roses that have been bred to have tightly packed petals may not form rose hips because bees may not be able to pollinate the flower due to its dense structure.
How to grow: Rosa rugosa is an excellent choice to grow to make rose hip tea. As with all roses, select a sunny to mostly sunny location and dig a planting hole twice as big as the root ball — or select a pot twice as big as the root ball if growing your rose in a container. Roses are heavy feeders and will appreciate bonemeal and compost being added to the planting hole or potting mix. Feed with an organic fertilizer according to package instructions. Follow pruning instructions that came with your plant to encourage new growth and more flowers.
How to harvest: Pick the hips when they are round and brightly colored, which is normally in the fall. Be sure to pick enough to last for many months. Cut off the dark furry tops and the bottom stem.
How to make tea: Rose hips have tiny hairs in their center that must be removed before making tea. You can do this by cutting the hips in half vertically and removing the hairs with a teaspoon. Or, you can wait until later. In either case, the next step is to put the hips in a food processor and coarsely chop them. Be sure not to grind them too much! Spread the chopped hips on a baking sheet and put them in a warm oven set to the lowest temperature. Every five minutes move the hips around to try to ensure they dry out completely, which should take about 20 minutes. If you didn’t remove the hairs previously, do so now by putting the hips in a sieve and shaking it until all of the hairs fall through. Store the dried hips in a sealed glass container in a dry, dark location.
How to brew the tea: Place 1 teaspoon of dried rose hips in a saucepan with 1 ½cups of water and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain into a teacup and serve hot. You can also make rose hip tea from freshly chopped rose hips. Tea made from fresh rose hips will not be as strong as tea made from dried rose hips.
Medicinal benefits: Rose hips have about 20 times more vitamin C than oranges. Vitamin C helps the body maintain a healthy immune system.
Bonus tips: Because you are going to use the fruit from the pollinated flowers (rose hips) to make tea, don’t use chemical fertilizers or pest or disease control on your roses.
Other choices: Additional fruits Liversidge includes in her tea choices are blueberries, lemons, myrtle and strawberries.
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