Mint Tea and Tinctures

Mint Tea and Tinctures

Many of us have heard of the benefits of dandelion. Dandelion syrup, dandelion root tea, dandelion greens... But there are actually a ton of edible, beneficial plants in your back yard - and like the dandelion many of them are considered weeds.

While I was over at a friend's house I noticed she had a ton of purple dead nettle growing in her yard. This is one common weed I rarely find on my own property, because goats and chickens love it. (For that matter they love dandelions as well - I have to pick my dandelions at work because the animals don't leave many for me at home.) Purple Dead Nettle is a member of the mint family. It looks very similar to Hen Bit and Creeping Charlie (sometimes called Ground Ivy). All three are edible and have different benefits. Purple Dead Nettle has a square stem (like other mint family members) and heart shaped leaves with little hairs that might give a lavender tint to the leaves. Purple Dead Nettle has sweet little trumpet like leaves that grown in whirls along the stem, typically peeking out from under the leaves.

Grab a bunch and stuff it in a mason jar. I pinch off the top 4-5 inches of the plant only. Cram it in there - we are going to make a tincture. A tincture is a medicinal compound made by dissolving a drug (or in this case a beneficial edible weed) in alcohol. Once you've gotten your jar full, pour some inexpensive vodka over the plant material until the jar is full. Place your jar in a cool dark place - mine lives under my kitchen sink - and turn it over once a day for 2 weeks. This tincture is high in vitamin C and antioxidants, plus it's a wonderful anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial. It is a slight diuretic. It's particularly beneficial for folks suffering from allergies like myself! Drink a teaspoon in your hot tea each day.

Speaking of tea: while we were picking purple dead nettle my friend also started pulling up mint plants. Mint is mildly invasive around here - especially in semi-shaded areas it can really "take over". She had a lot of apple mint growing - a perfect mint for tea. So I convinced her to let me take it home to dry. I love mint tea and it's perfect to go with my dead nettle tincture. When drying plants like mint, make sure you don't tie them up in a big clump - you want to spread them out on an elevated screen or tie them in small clumps like this so there is enough air circulation to quickly dry the plants.

I also clipped off the roots of the mint plants and tried to plant them in small pots to root. My plan was to propagate the mint this way and have my own apple mint for tea. Unfortunately the goats found the pots of mint and destroyed most of them... I saved one and I am hoping it survives but it seems unlikely haha.