Sunday, December 09, 2012

Nettle and Mugwort Tea

I've been trying to assess the state of my mother's tea closet today which is crammed with various teas I've left  over the many years.  Since my parents never touch any of my teas, they are liable to go stale for decades unless I do something about it.  Sadly these climes are no place for puerh storage as it can go so bone dry in the winter that I've actually gotten a bloody nose before from a blast of heat from central heating.

These Duchy tea boxes are a recent leftover from when my mother and I were in London together only last summer.  I had a fully equipped flat for two weeks so I confidently picked three teas thinking I'd chug unnatural amounts of tea at breakfast and bedtime British style but these teas went untouched for many reasons.

Nettle tea is considered a restorative tea chock full of minerals and it tastes mildly awful- like wet dried grass until you get used to it.  Long ago, one of our friends used to harvest nettle from the sides of roads to make pasta.  Nettle is stinging and one really has to be careful not to get any of the fresh stinging hairs on you but it's made safe by cooking.  I wouldn't bother drinking nettle tea without the reputed health benefits and my bones do feel a glow of extra mineral fortification with each sip.  I  can't even say if this Duchy tea is a superior or subpar example of nettle tea but the ginger and organic Assam are forgettable teas.  I have a pathological aversion to throwing any tea away and probably I'll drink these on my visit for another five years.

Under a pile of newspapers in the kitchen table, I was shocked to find a flattened unopened bag of mugwort loose leaf tea I had gifted my mother five years ago.  This mountain mugwort was collected by a friend of a friend's mother. Koreans use mugwort as a flavoring and coloring agent for desserts and I love the taste of green mugwort mochi.  I brewed the mugwort tea for my father tonight and found this inadvertently aged tea still soothing.  Back home in Berkeley, mugwort is often my bedtime replacement for chamomile.

Mugwort has some entertaining folk names- "felon herb", "naughty man", "old uncle Henry" and "sailor's tobacco".   While hiking in Richmond, I found a gangly plant which had striking resemblance to "old uncle Henry" but my husband emphatically convinced me not to put this "felon herb" in my mouth to test if it indeed was the "sailor's tobacco".  Wild crafting has it's risks and I guess risking poisoning or a stomach ache might never be worth a wager.

1 comment:

  1. Haha - I can SO relate. My parents don't drink the tea I leave, either.