March marks the beginning of spring. As the days become longer and our faces are reacquainted with the sun, energy that was held in the soil during the winter pushes above ground. Vibrant and fresh green growth is all around us offering nourishment and support to cleanse our minds and bodies.
This fresh herb tea blend was inspired by a stroll on a sunny afternoon. At this time of year, chickweed, miner’s lettuce, and cleavers can be found carpeting undisturbed grassy areas and young dandelion greens are never far away. The combination of these local plants makes for an anti-inflammatory, tissue healing, and cleansing herbal tea to celebrate the arrival of spring.
Dandelion Leaf (Taraxacum officinale)
Considered a weed to many, dandelion is a herbalist’s delight. The roots, flowers, and leaves can all be used at different times of the year for various ailments. The leaves used in this blend have a diuretic and hepatic action to support the elimination pathways of the kidneys and liver. These tender greens have a mildly bitter flavour that is beneficial for the digestive system and can also be enjoyed in salad and juiced.
Chickweed (Stellaria media)
This annual herb comes up in the springtime and dies back once the temperatures rise. Its delicate aerial parts are very nutritious and make an excellent salad green. It has demulcent and vulnerary properties and thus, it is soothing and restorative for the respiratory and digestive system when taken as food or tea. Chickweed can also be used topically as a poultice or in creams and salves for hot and dry skin conditions.
Miner’s Lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata)
Commonly found in close proximity to chickweed, miner’s lettuce has similar soft green leaves and small pink or white flowers. Containing iron, flavonoids, mucilage, and Vitamin A and C, this plant is nourishing and delicious. The name miner’s lettuce comes from its history of use by California gold rush miners to prevent scurvy. It has diuretic, demulcent, and anti-inflammatory properties. Similar to chickweed, it can be enjoyed as a salad green, used as a poultice, or infused into tea.
Cleavers (Galium aparine)
This native annual is known to cling to anything brushing by it. It is used as a cooling and soothing lymphatic tonic to treat conditions associated with the build up of toxins, including edema, tonsillitis, and eczema. It also has a mild laxative action to flush waste out of the body. Internal spring cleaning!
Garden Gathered Tea
This is a fresh infusion but can also be made with dried herbs. You can make a big batch and store it in the fridge for to 2-3 days. Warm it up whenever needed or use it as a liquid base in smoothies and soups.
Ingredients: (Equal parts, about ½ – ¾ cups of chopped fresh herb in total).
- Dandelion Leaf (Taraxacum officinale)
- Chickweed (Stellaria media)
- Miner’s Lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata)
- Cleavers (Galium aparine)
- 1L water
Pour boiling water on top of the herbs and cover. Let it steep for 15-30 minutes or longer, strain, and add squeeze of lemon. You may alternatively use room temperature water and leave the herbs to infuse overnight.
Note of caution: It is very important to harvest plant material from a safe and clean area away from industrial pollution and contaminants. Do not collect plants beside roads, railroad tracks, or in areas that may have been sprayed with pesticides.
“Claytonia perfoliata Monograph.” Handout. Pacific Rim College, Victoria, British Columbia.
“Galium aparine Monograph” Handout. Pacific Rim College, Victoria, British Columbia.
“Stellaria media Monograph.” Handout. Pacific Rim College, Victoria, British Columbia.
“Taraxacum officinale Monograph.” Handout. Pacific Rim College, Victoria, British Columbia.