Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Wild Herbal Tea, Maine Island Style

Herbal tea is especially delicious when homemade. Herbal teas are actually Tisanes or herbal infusions. They are made with ingredients other than tea such as flowers, bark, roots, berries, or leaves. And they have no caffeine. Some of the best herbal infusions come from Switzerland. If you don't have the money to travel to Switzerland then you can gather ingredients from edible wild or domesticated plants.

Whole flower tisane (herbal tea) made with edible flowers from
While vacationing in Maine, last month I gathered flowers for my own rose petal, red clover, and lavender tisane. I started with a wild red clover harvest.

Wild Red Clover bud, Northern Maine
These reddish purple flowered plants grow all summer long in New England and can be found in fields or by roadsides. Before picking I made sure they had not been sprayed with any chemicals like insecticides. I clipped about a cup of flower heads and stored them in an airtight container.
Heirloom variety wild red rose, Northern Maine
Next, I went looking for an Heirloom variety of wild red rose that only has one layer of petals. It grows almost everywhere but seems to prefer areas close to the shore. If you choose this as an ingredient watch out for its thorns which can easily tear through light clothing.

The flowers with strongest scent make the best tisane. I clipped about a cup of highly aromatic petals, making sure to take only one petal from each flower, and a handful of unopened buds.

To round out my flower tisane I bought a bouquet of fresh lavender, grown on a farm in Vinalhaven, Maine. I washed, patted dry, and arranged all the flowers on a wooden cutting board before putting them next to a window that got lots of sun. It took three days to dry the flowers.
Tisane made from gathered edible wild flowers of Maine
The amount of flowers to add to the tisane and the time to rest (steep) really depends on your own tastes.

I used a handful of whole flowers to two cups of boiling water. I steeped the mixture for 12 minutes before drinking. The yellow colored tisane had delicate flavor with just slight hints of flower scent.

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