I’ve written out a recipe for nettle tea and some data on how to go foraging for stinging nettles with links. If you don’t feel like going for a hike you can buy stinging nettle tea at just about any store that carries herb teas. I like the tea because it helps with inflammation from fibromyalgia and I am interested in learning how to live off the land. I like to think I have an alternative to the grocery store because I really hate shopping. It’s so much fun taking a walk in the woods and gathering my food rather than driving to a store and seeing the same old veggies. Here is a small article about Nettle tea benefits.
This painting didn’t turn out as good as I imagined it. I’ve never drawn or painted such a complicated teacup or pot and I have done very little still-life artwork. If I were to paint this again, I would fix the teacup saucer. It’s all out of kilter and the shadows suck. But I finished it and that is what matters most right now, practice, practice, practice!
Watercolor and Gouache on mixed media paper.
If you are going to make stinging nettle tea from scratch it’s best to start looking for a patch in early spring, it is easier to find because it’s one of the first plants to sprout. Remember to bring gloves and garden shears if you are going foraging for this plant later in the year, the older plants will sting you. The stems toughen up and the plant packs a powerful sting. If you live in America, Stinging Nettle grows just about anywhere near water or marshes. If your backyard is wet, it may be growing in your backyard and you don’t even know it! Make sure the area is clean and isn’t getting sprayed with herbicide or pesticide. You have to be careful with all the dumping and pesticide spraying going on.
How to identify, Stinging Nettle, Common Nettle, Urtica Dioica, is very easy plant to spot with distinctive saw-tooth edged leaves and hairy stems that will sting you if you grab them incorrectly. The plant grows from 3ft up to 7ft tall and has an abundance of bright green leaves. The tiny hairs that cover the stems act as a hypodermic needle injecting a mixture of chemicals that can cause a painful reaction that feels like burning if grasped incorrectly.
I only had to be burned once as a kid and learned to spot the plant when hiking near wet areas, I haven’t grabbed the plant with bare hands since then. I was climbing up out of Eagle Creek near Estacada Oregon and grabbed onto some plants to pull myself up. I think I was around 8 years old, it was late in the year and the salmon still ran in our creek. We hiked down to see if you could find any of the giant fish that usually were so beat up they looked like zombie fish, bits and parts of scales, blackened flesh, fins, and tails would be falling off after they mated. Sadly the salmon no longer run in little Oregon creeks because of the dams and logging.
You can live off the plant, cooking, drying, or crushing will dislodge the spiny hairs easily. I like to eat the young spring plants, they haven’t developed their sting yet and are the first plants to come up besides Skunk Cabbage.
Stinging Nettle spreads through it’s root like system called rhizomes. That’s why you will usually find large patches of nettles. if you find one plant there is going to more! Don’t pull the plants out by their roots, so next year they will come up again. You can cut as many plants as you want because these particular plants spread through their root system.
I wear a long sleeved shirt and gloves, I fill up my garbage bag with a bunch of plants and head home. it’s that easy, cut and run! I spray the plants down with my garden hose, washing away all the dirt, tie several stems together and hanging the bundles on my clothes line until dry. I have a large laundry room I use to dry my herbs in.
Once you’ve dried your stinging nettles you can store them in glass canning jars. I make my tea using 6 dried or fresh leaves, about a tablespoon, let sit in water that is boiling hot for about five minutes. I like to drink my tea straight, just like my whiskey, but you can add what ever flavoring you like or even mix with other teas and herbs. You can eat your left over leaves after you drain the water into your teacup! I like to add a little butter and salt to mine.