NOW ALICE HAS TALKED ABOUT TEA A quick lesson on how to dry herbs and make homemade tea Essay and photo by Elizabeth FiendRead: how to dry wormwood web_alice_pdf_spring_2009_073.jpgBiG TeA PaRtY recently hosted a Sustainable Living “Tea Party” at Playa Del Fuego (an East Coast Burning Man) – hundreds of people stopped by to read our posters and share their ideas. them about sustainability. Our homegrown wormwood iced tea has been a resounding success. Many people ask the recipe and how to make homemade herbal iced tea. Here’s the low result: I grow my own herbs, if you have some land I recommend this sustainable pastime. Gardening and growing some food (and drinks!) of your own is a commendable endeavor. Otherwise, dried herbs are available for sale on the internet.Aquaculture: fresh_cut_herbs_on_back_table_2006_web.jpg• Herbs are easy to grow. Know your climate and soil – choose crops accordingly. Herbs will be perennial (long-lived), annual (one-season only) and sometimes alternate as biennial and short-lived perennials. • Make sure you really know what you’re growing because you’ll end up ingesting these plants. Buy plants and seeds from trusted dealers. Often, plants will be mislabeled in lesser garden centers. • In my experience, it’s best to buy perennials as trees; Annuals are usually cheaper to grow from seed.HYGIENE HYDRATES AND HYGIENE: • When possible, harvest herbs on a dry day in the morning to get the most impact from the plants’ natural aromas – their oils. • Always leave at least a third of the plants intact when harvesting (except for annuals, eat them all when frost approaches as they will die soon anyway). • Since my herbs are home grown and I don’t use any chemicals in my yard, I don’t wash my herbs (for the sake of drying them) instead There I used my fingers to brush off the dirt and examine the carcasses and feathers. etc that I delete. • Tie herbs into small bundles and hang upside down in a dry and ventilated place, out of direct light until they dry. Dry_herbs_2006_web.jpgAFTER THE HEALTH DRY: • For eating and seasoning: remove leaves and flowers from stems and store away from direct light in an airtight bag or container with a tight-fitting lid. • For tea: you don’t have to be too careful about removing the stem, but most teas taste best when there’s little wood in the ingredients (wormwood is an exception, see “Morgwort Teas) ” at the end).CREATE TEA BLENDS: • Basically, any herb/plant you eat can be made into a tea. Edible flowers are also great for tea. Click here to see my post on edible flowers • The herbs you use to make your tea are entirely up to you and limited only by your imagination and taste buds. I have a knack for mixing flavors and have put a lot of effort into creating, in the summer, a refreshing drink and in the colder months a comfort drink. As for iced tea, I avoid white cane sugar whenever possible as it is nutritionally ineffective. When making a pot of tea, I like to sweeten the iced tea (when needed) with 100% white grape juice. This doesn’t impart much flavor to the tea, but adds the extra sweetness that most iced tea drinkers enjoy. Adding some lemon or lime is a welcome touch.PHASE TEA: Making tea from home-grown herbs is like making ‘regular’ tea. Hot water; warm the teapot by stirring around some of the hot water in the pot; add 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of dried herbs per cup of tea; incubate for 1-5 minutes; stress; Enjoy hot or let it come to room temperature and then refrigerate (this keeps the tea from turning cloudy).WORMWOOD TEA: resize-wormwood-cu.jpgWormwood is a popular plant today for its mild psychoactive properties from the chemical thujone. Thujone won’t drop your socks and you’ll be disappointed if you think this is going to be like taking drugs. Instead, thujone is a mild stimulant and induces a feeling of well-being. Current science says thujone increases and randomly activates neurons in your brain. This tends to make you a little more imaginative, old things look new, everything looks sharp. It was very smooth and there were no glitches that I noticed. Combine with alcohol and the effect is increased. For more on this, check out my article on Absinthe. WARNING: Do not eat wormwood if you are pregnant. Wormwood has a long history as a midwifery herb used to promote contractions. Read more: how to make steel ingots in minecraftWORK DEVELOPMENT: I mean 100% vital, it’s about making sure you have the right type of wormwood because there are several types of wormwood. Artemisia absinthium is the Latin name of the plant you want. Buy only from a trusted dealer. I bought my seeds online from Thyme Garden. Wormwood is eccentric and likes to do it when the lights are on. That is, seeds need light to germinate. Here’s how I do it: Start with a pot that is at least 8” in diameter (the pot is too small and it will dry out); watering thoroughly; broadcast (that’s what farmers love to say about sowing seeds) the seeds on top of the soil; cover the top of the pot with clear plastic food wrap; Wait; When you see the seedling growing, remove the plastic wrap and grow like any other plant. I use this method because the seeds won’t fly away and it ensures you know which plant is wormwood.WORMWOOD TEA INGREDIENTS: sage_flowers_web_2007_067.jpgAccording to what I have researched and experienced, thoujone is most concentrated in the trunk of the tree. Wormwood is a VERY bitter herb, the stem is even more so, and it takes some work to make a delicious-tasting beverage from this plant. A good place to start is to think about flavors of Absinthe – mint and anise. • To make mugwort tea, use about 1 teaspoon of dried wormwood per cup of tea and place it on a 3-inch wooden stem while brewing (like a cinnamon stick). • Add 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon per (cup) of additional herbs to improve flavor. If you’re making a pot of tea, add a few different herbs to make an interesting drink. The Wormwood Tea I serve at Playa del Fuego is flavored with sage, shiso, lemon thyme, star anise, mountain mint, ground fennel seeds, and lime juice. Since wormwood is a very bitter herb, I sweetened the tea with organic white grape juice and agave nectar. I served tea to 150 people and used up my entire herb stock from last year’s harvest. But you all deserve it! Elizabeth Fiend’s photo. From top to bottom: Alice in Wonderland; Fresh herbs cut on my backyard table; Dried herbs in my dining room; Yes, this is the shape of the wormwood tree; To read more, check out this fun and entertaining site from a plant lover and grower on Playa del Fuego

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