Nettle & Lemon Balm Tea
For those living in a northwest valley…
Ingredients needed: nettle leaf, lemon balm leaf, honey
1. Take a walk to your nearest wooded riparian area during mid spring, while keeping an eye out for tall growing nettle plants. Bring along shears and a thick pair of work gloves. These will look a bit like large mint plants, with hairy stems. You’ll know it’s nettle when these hairs bring a sharp sting to the back of your hand.
2. With a proper ID, harvest the broad leaves. Trim in a way that leaves the upper most leaves intact, especially at the points of growth so that this nettle grove will stay healthy for generations to come while remembering Robin Wall Kimmerer’s advice, ‘never take more than half.’
3. Bring these leaves home for dehydrating.
4. On another walk in a bit higher elevation, or if you are lucky in the same outing, keep your eye out for wild lemon balm. Lemon balm will also look like mint, this time about the same size but with a sharp lemon smell pinched between the fingers.
5. Repeat steps 2-3 with the lemon balm (except that lemon balm is non-endemic, so it’s okay to take a bit more than half. This is citizen-conservation).
6. With dehydrated leaves of both at home, boil a kettle of water.
7. Add two-parts nettle to one-part lemon balm to loose-leaf tea steeper. For one cup of tea, make this: two teaspoons of nettle to one teaspoon of lemon balm.
8. Let steep for ten to twelve minutes.
9. Remove tea leaves. Add honey to taste.
Enjoy, knowing you’ve foraged from the natural world and took part in a bit of non-endemic species control.
David Rollins (he/him)
David Rollins is a photographer, occasional writer, and urban farmer currently living in Tohono O’odham and Pascua Yaqui lands. As a recent graduate from the University of Oregon, he studied the intersections of anthropology, environmental studies, and civic agriculture. When not gardening, David is an avid cyclist, reader, and forager.