Have You Picked Your Tea Today?

Have you picked your tea today?

One of my all-time favorites is red clover tea and it’s probably growing right in your yard.
June is the time when red clover starts to flower here, and I’ll pick a handful from along the driveway when I go down the hill with my pup to get the mail and the newspaper.

When my kids were little, they used to earn summer money by picking and drying it to sell to my clients for $1 a bag.  Those days are long gone, but you can pick it yourself if you have access to a yard or field where it grows wild.  The flowers are slightly sweet, which is why the bees love it for honey-making.  You can pull apart a flower or two and add it to salad or top a cup of your own tea, hot or cold, but my favorite use for red clover is as an iced herbal tea.

Pick the flower and the top leaves, and pour a quart of boiling water over a handful of flowers. You can add honey, stevia or xylitol, or just enjoy its own natural sweetness. I like to cover and steep for at least 4-6 hours.  Strain and refrigerate, or pour right over ice.
Red clover is not just pleasant; it’s a wonderful tonic with many nutritional benefits, rich in minerals, including calcium, magnesium and potassium, as well as Vitamin C and Vitamin E.

Traditionally the flowers have been used for a wide variety of ailments, including a liver and digestive aid, and for spasmodic coughs and asthma. More recently, red clover has demonstrated some promise as an anti-cancer agent for prostate cancer, relief of menopausal symptoms and breast health for women.

Got extra? Dry it thoroughly and save it for a time when you can’t pick it fresh.  I try to keep enough on hand to last through the other three seasons.

You can add some wild mint, lemon balm, or dandelion leaves for extra taste or nutrition.  Mints and lemon balm are also lovely teas on their own, or put a leaf in each section of an ice cube tray to get a little burst of flavor with your iced drinks.

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