|Pick nettles for tea during spring and summer.|
Part used as a tea: Leaf and flowering top
How to make it: Use 1 teabag, 1 tsp of dried Nettle leaf, or 2 tsp of fresh Nettle leaf to a cup and leave to brew for at least 5 minutes. People worry about drinking the tea made from the fresh plant, but it is quite safe - boiling water breaks down the hairs that cause the sting! However, you still have to take care when picking or handling it, either wear gloves or grasp the nettle firmly, in which case it should not sting. Nettle are best picked during Spring and Summer for use as a tea, though for use as a vegetable they should be picked when young and tender in the spring.
How much to use: Drink the tea, from the fresh or dried plant, up to 5 or 6 cups a day. For short term use - a few days - you can take more.
Flavour and taste: Nettle has a particularly 'green' flavour as a tea, not entirely unlike spinach! Try it out and do not be put off by this description, as it is a pleasant and very useful herbal tea.
Health benefits: Nettle is a much underrated herb. Not only is it rich in iron and good for staunching wounds and reducing blood loss (which makes it a useful plant for heavy menstrual bleeding), but it has a significant anti-allergy effect. Nettle helps to reduce the intensity of hay fever symptoms, can be very helpful in a number of skin problems - especially nettle rash (!) and eczema, and may help in some asthmatic and bronchial conditions.
Nettle has long been used as a spring tonic in country regions, and partly because it is a 'greedy' plant drawing up many nutrients from the soil, it does have a tonic, strengthening effect if taken regularly.
Interestingly, recent research into Nettle root suggests that it may be an effective treatment for an enlarged prostrate, a condition which troubles an increasingly large number of men. Nettle leaf and root is a great hair tonic. Use a strong decoction and rub into the scalp 3 times a day to stimulate hair growth and reduce itching and flaking.
History and Folklore: Nettle has not always been reviled, and in fact in the past was thought of as an extremely useful plant to have around. Not only can it be eaten as a vegetable, taken as a herbal medicine, and fed as dry fodder to animals, but its stems can be used to make good linen. The Romans, however, had the most novel approach to Nettles. The story goes that they brought Nettle seeds with them to northerly Britain, so that they could flog their cold and aching limbs with Nettles, the stinging causing so much irritation that the circulation is improved and arthritic joints eased!