Summer is here, and it’s the perfect “thyme” for some iced tea. 🙂 If you are growing thyme in your garden, you probably have more than you know what to do with at this point! So here is a delicious way to put it to use. I first tried thyme iced tea at a fancy coffee shop in Seattle. Once I tried it, I knew I had to figure out how to make it for myself – the thyme lends a refreshing and herbaceous flavor that is hard to describe, you just have to try it!
Ingredients (for 1 quart of iced tea):
a handful of fresh sprigs of thyme, chopped
4 black tea bags
2 generous spoonfuls of sugar
Put the kettle on to boil. Add chopped thyme and tea bags to your teapot or french press. Pour boiling water over it (enough for 1 quart) and let steep for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, add two generous spoonfuls of sugar to a heat-proof 1 quart glass jar (Ball canning jars are great). Once it has steeped, pour tea into the jar, stir well until the sugar has dissolved. Cap it and let cool on the counter for a bit, then put it in the fridge. Once your tea is chilled, fill a glass with ice and pour tea over ice. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Enjoy!
It is evening – the sun has set, dinner is done, and the table has been cleared. It’s time to do some clean-up in the kitchen, and prepare my nettle infusion for the next day.
First, I fill the kettle with fresh, cold water, and set it to high heat on the hearth. As the water heats, I grab a 1-quart mason jar from the cupboard, and my stash of dried nettle. Using a scale, I measure out one ounce of the nettle and pour it into the jar – I also add a pinch of dried mint from the garden. By the time I am done with this, steam is billowing from the kettle and it is starting to whistle. I grab the kettle from the hearth, and pour the bubbling water over the herbs, giving it a good stir to make sure that the herbs are fully immersed. Steam floats up and I revel in the earthy forest fragrance of wild nettle and mint.
Nettle is a somewhat unassuming plant in appearance; lush, green and leafy. But you will immediately recognize it if it makes contact with your skin, as it has nearly invisible spines that will deliver a searing sting! This plant likes a bit of cool shade and moisture, and can be found somewhat easily in the forests of the Pacific Northwest. It is also one of the most nourishing plants on the planet. While it must be handled with care, nettle is most generous with its nutrients and grows in abundance, happy to heal those who seek it out. Once you begin consuming nettle, whether eaten as a cooked food or imbibed as a nourishing infusion, you will quickly become aware of its zippy and generous personality. Nettle delivers a boost of fresh energy and vibrancy, and will give you a rosy glow and a pep in your step! The infusion is a dark green, almost black liquid, loaded with healing chlorophyll, and it makes my Green Witch heart happy.
Once I have filled the jar up with boiling water, I cap it and place it on the windowsill to infuse overnight. In the morning I will strain it, and chill it in the fridge, before sipping on it throughout the day. I feel immense gratitude and respect for this potent plant spirit.
I first learned about nourishing infusions several years ago from the book Healing Wise by Susun Weed, and have been consuming them on a regular basis ever since. Nourishing infusions are a true Witch’s brew – healing, simple, effective, and a beautiful way to connect with plant spirits. They are also inexpensive – in fact, several of these plants can be wild harvested or grown in a garden, depending on where you are located.
An herbal infusion is different from a tea – in Healing Wise, Susun Weed describes it as “the most medicinally potent water-based herbal preparation.” Here is the standard preparation:
Set a kettle of water to boil.
Measure out one ounce of your dried herb.
Put herb in a quart jar – canning jars are best, make sure it is heat-proof glass.
Pour boiling water over the herb to the top of the jar – you may want to give it a stir to make sure the herb is fully saturated.
Cap the jar and let it sit at room temperature for at least 4 hours (I like to make mine before bed and let it infuse overnight).
Strain out the herb, pour liquid back into jar, and drink throughout the day. You’ll want to drink at least two cups per day, although I like to have the whole quart. If you don’t finish the quart in a day, be sure to refrigerate it at night. I always give the last few sips to my house plants.🙂
Here are the herbs Susun Weed recommends for use on a regular basis – generally speaking, you will want to infuse these individually, and rotate as you go (eg. nettle infusion on monday, oatstraw infusion on tuesday, red clover infusion on wednesday, etc):
Nettle – This zippy plant is a true powerhouse of nourishment! It is a kidney/adrenal ally, digestive restorative, respiratory strengthener, hair and skin nourisher. Contains proteins, macro and trace minerals, and nearly all the vitamins we need. With regular consumption, this infusion will give you a significant boost of energy. If you are harvesting these in the wild, be sure to wear thick gloves at all times while handling them, until they have dried.
Oatstraw – Cooling and soothing, strengthens the nervous system and endocrine system, eases muscle spasms and inflammation, restores sexual flow. Contains proteins, macro and trace minerals, and high amounts of B vitamins.
Red Clover – anti-cancer, aids in fertility, nourishes hormones, nourishes skin, helper to the lymphatic system, boosts immune system. High in proteins, macro and trace minerals, vitamins, and is an excellent source of phytosterols.
Comfrey – AKA “Bone Knit”, strengthens and heals bones, skin, and other tissues, improves digestion and respiratory health. Rich in proteins, and a great source of folic acid, vitamins, minerals and trace minerals.
Linden – Anti-inflammatory, aids digestion, cold and flu preventative, relaxing nervine, benefits the heart. Rich in antioxidants, tastes like sunshine. 🙂
Speaking of taste, if you find the flavor of any of these herbs challenging, try adding a pinch of mint. I really enjoy adding a bag of peppermint tea to the nettle infusion, and a wedge of lemon (after straining) to the red clover infusion.
Having a constant rotation of these nourishing infusions as part of your daily nutrition will build a strong foundation for your health. If you are interested in learning about herbal allies, and getting to know the personality of the plants, pick one of the herbs listed above and try drinking a quart of it every day for a full week- you will get to know the plant very well! In a way, you will embody the plant, and get a good sense of its personality and healing qualities.
To learn more about working with herbs, I can’t recommend Susun Weed’s book, Healing Wise, enough. It is a go-to reference and constant guide for me in healing with plants.
As mentioned above, you may be able to harvest some of these herbs in the wild or grow them in your garden. This is ideal, just be sure to do your research on foraging and drying first! You can also purchase them online from Mountain Rose Herbs or Frontier Co-op.
Nourishing infusions are a potent daily tonic and healing way to connect with plants.
The five herbs used (individually) in nourishing infusions are: nettle, oatstraw, red clover, comfrey, and linden.
The general ratio for making nourishing infusions is one ounce herb to one quart water, and should be infused for at least 4 hrs.
Nourishing infusions are simple, safe and affordable.
To learn more, read Healing Wise by Susun Weed.
Herbs for nourishing infusions may be grown or wildcrafted, but do your research first.
Nourishing infusions can be part of a daily practice for the Green Witch and/or Kitchen Witch.