Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Make tea this winter!

Although we've had a brief reprieve from our winter weather, there is nothing better on a cold winter morning (or evening) than a warming cup of tea.  We've done this (especially my husband) for many years, makng a cup of tea to warm you up, open up your nasal passages, settle your stomach, and many other reasons.  We've always had a variety of tea bags in the cupboard........mint (great to open stuffy noses), chamomile (great for an upset stomach and also a great calmer), oranges and cinnamon, hibiscus, raspberry, and a wide variety of herbals as well as regular teas.  All delicious!!!
But this year we have something new to play with ---- a French press!  WooooooHoooooooo!
This is my little French press. 
Isn't it cute?  I actually won this as a raffle prize this summer at our District Gathering of the Herb Society.  I was so excited!  I had seen pictures of them in Martha Stewart's magazine earlier last year.  It is actually a coffee press.  You put coarsely ground coffee in the bottom of it, pour boiling water in and put on the lid with the plunger up and let it steep.  It has a snug fitting screen on the plunger.  After it steeps, you can depress the plunger and it will hold down the coffee grounds and you can pour yourself a cup of freshly brewed coffee.  Martha pointed out in her article that these little coffee presses work wonderfully to make herbal teas.......and I wanted one immediately!!!!!!!
Sadly,  I won this prize in July and brought it home and let it sit on the shelf until December!!!  (I only like hot drinks in really cold weather!)  But since the temperatures have dropped, this little baby has really gotten a workout!  This small press makes one cup of tea, but we frequently reuse the herb material for a 2nd or 3rd cup.
Our tea of choice has been nettles and ginger.  Sound strange?  Of course it does!  But it is extremely nutritious and very DELICIOUS!  Nettles are a common weed.  Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) - you've probably unexpectedly wandered into a patch of them and ended up with painful stings.  But these weeds, although hated by many, are loaded with vitamins and minerals.  Once dried or cooked, the 'sting' goes out of the plant.  It can be cooked or steamed and eaten as a green, tasting much like spinach.  Nettles is one of the superior tonic herbs - rich in iron, calcium, potassium, silicon, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and chromium, as well as a host of other vitamins and minerals.  Nettles has a very mild and pleasant taste, and it blends well with other herbs.  I like to blend it with a few slices of ginger root (which is a delicious and healthy herb in its own right).

Down inside the French press.
I like to use about a teaspoon of dried nettles and a few thin slices of fresh ginger root.  Then I pour in the boiling water and put the lid on the press and let it steep for 5 to 10 minutes.
After I add the hot water, I place the lid on the press with the plunger up and let it steep.
I like a little honey in my tea, so I put the honey in the bottom of my mug and then pour the hot tea in.   Mmmmmmmmmmm!  Delicious!
Ahhhhhh.....a nice cup of tea!

I am soooooooo impressed with this little appliance, I bought a few of them for Christmas presents and even received a larger one as a gift!  I found a few of them at Target stores, but had a hard time finding them at other department stores.  I had to look in specialty gourmet/cooking stores and I also understand you can find them at Starbucks.
My new larger one will do 8 cups, I think.  I haven't tried it out yet.  But think of the possibilities..........a large dose of lemon and ginger tea .......ICED for the summer!  A large pitcher of mint tea.......ICED! 
So I have lots of plans for my herb garden this year.  I shall have several varieties of mint, lemon balm, lemon verbena, monarda, and even basils.......and all of them shall have a turn in the French press!!!

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