Spring has arrived in Seattle, and with it, so has the spring produce: fiddleheads, rhubarb, and nettles. Part of the issue with seasonal foods with a short availability is that recipe development can take a couple years if supplies are limited. This year, I got a 1/4 lb. bag of nettles at the Capitol Hill Farmers Market in late April and got to work on a couple dishes, including this nettle and mint tea, for those of you who enjoy a little punch to your herbal tea.
I’m not sure how you all feel about partner-related personal anecdotes with your recipes? But for some nettle-related ones: My partner C grew up in the rural Pacific Northwest, and one common theme in their childhood stories is something to the effect of “and then we walked into a field of stinging nettles and my mom had to carry me” or “I fell into a blackberry bramble”–very far removed from my childhood in the suburbs of the Midwest. In spite of–or perhaps because of–getting attacked by plants, C has a wealth of knowledge about local flora and is my walking field guide to Washington. Any given conversation we have about nature tends to be a bit Twin Peaks (Douglas fir! Snowshoe rabbit!). It’s pretty great.
Safety tips: You’ll need to handle stinging nettles with care–the name is no joke. You’ll need some garden gloves or some vinyl/nitrile gloves to handle them. Don’t eat them raw and only eat the young green leaves, not old ones (not a problem if you’re getting them at a farmers market vs. foraging). Once the nettles are in the hot water, they’ll soften up, though.
Like many medicinal herbs, stinging nettle may interfere with some medications. Check out this guide from the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Citation: Janice J. Schofield. (1989). “Nettle.” Discovering Wild Plants: Alaska, Western Canada, The Northwest. Alaska Northwest Books, Anchorage. 170-3.
Nettle and Mint Tea
-~2 large fresh stinging nettle leaves, destemmed and chopped (~1 TBSP)
-~3 fresh mint leaves, chopped (~1/2 TBSP), plus some for garnish
-honey, to taste
-~4 cups (840 mL) water*, almost boiling
*This is the size of our big tea pot.
-garden gloves or vinyl/nitrile gloves for handling the nettles
-a tea pot or other means of steeping tea
-a fine strainer (either in the tea pot or to pour over into the cups)
1. Boil water and let cool slightly.
2. Wearing gloves, remove the stem from your nettle leaves and carefully wash them to remove any debris. Roughly chop.
3. Wash and chop the mint, and add the nettles and mint to your teapot.
4. Add the water and brew for ~5 minutes.
5. Strain and add honey to taste. Garnish with a mint leaf.