Lower Lovetts Farm

Herbal Tea

Your calendula clover and violet tea

Dear Richard

I visited your inspirational garden this summer and listened to you describe the properties of the above teas with interest.

I have long been a fan of calendula and make oils and cream from the flowers. Since meeting you I have done my own research on your tea and what you said appears to be true. I make lots of teas already from home grown herbs.

I would like to make some of your teas, especially now as another family member has had a cancer diagnosis, although I note your comments about not being a practitioner.

Are you able just to confirm the amounts of flowers needed to make a brew.

Barbara in Oxon on 13 October 2013

Lower Lovetts Farm Herbal Teas.

I have been making herbal teas for some years and after much experimentation have found brews that are both nice to drink and hopefully beneficial to my health. But, please note that I am not a medical practitioner or Herbal doctor and have had no training at all. All the knowledge I have gained has been from books and by practical experience. This is account of what I do, rather than what I think others should do.

Why I grow rather than buy Herbs.

I grow and make these teas because I love growing plants and also find it great fun making the teas. The quality of plants I can grow far exceeds the dried herbs you buy from a Herbal Doctor and tastes much better to boot, they are younger fresher and sweeter. As I do this on a small scale, I handle and dry them much more gently and I also know they are organic, not something that ever seems to be mentioned with commercial products.

When I started I was very cautious in making sure I get the right plants and therefore actually growing the right stuff but once this was established, it’s all go. The cost implication, if one is going to drink any quantity of herbs over a long period, is quite staggering as well.

When I started, many of the teas I made were not very nice tasting and drinking them was a chore rather than enjoyable. I think I have now cracked it due to several minor problems and drink delicious herbal tea every day.

The problem was they were too strong or bitter for my taste and many of the ingredients were not pleasant to drink with unpalatable tastes. This is simply a question of what you grow and the blends you make, I think initially I was trying to make too powerful blends rather than drinking a little and often.

Growing Herbs.

I am not going to go into how to grow herbs here, they are pretty easy, but will say that there is a time implication involved. It took me a year or two to get sorted and to have the quantity I needed. Things like Sweet Violets grow quite slowly so some thought is needed when starting up.

The Base

One of the constituents in my teas is Red Clover (the idea came from the book by Jethro Kloss, Back to Eden 1939). I found that using this plant as a base and adding other herbs to it, makes a very pleasant drink. You can either use fresh or dried red clover, the more fresh you use the more like Green Tea it tastes. As my Red clover is not available all year, I use mostly dried with some fresh mixed in when available.

Red Clover, as opposed to Crimson or other clover has a slight marking on the leaf, in a V shape across it which is paler white in color. I use the flower when they are still all purple rather than going over and brown, along with a couple of the top leaves. I simply pick off the stem and leaves together. Dry this until the flower can be squeezed between your fingers and falls apart and then store everything in glass bottles.

For a brew I use about half Red Clover, by dried weight, and half of another active ingredient plus a flavoring.

Other Active Ingredients

Pot marigold Flowers with Sweet Violet Leaves.

A combination of Pot Marigold flowers (Calendula officinallis) mixed with an equal quantity (dry weight) of Sweet Violet leaves (Viola Odorata). This combination is said to produce a tea that can actively kills cancer cells. It can be drunk as a tea without anything else although the taste is not great, so using it like this is medicine rather than a refreshing drink. I often mix this combination half and half (dry weight) with Red Clover.

Sheep’s Sorrell. (Rumex acetosella)

One of the ingredients in Essiac Tea (A famous cancer fighting blend with eight ingredients) and it is easy to grow although it could become an invasive weed if you don’t watch it. Dry the plant, roots and all, and use it as an ingredient as part of a blend. It contains amongst other things, Oxalic Acid and although the amount is very small compared with say Swiss chard, with is not good for my joints, I often suffer from gout.

Echinacea (Echinacea or coneflowers)

I dry the flowers and leaves, although all parts of the plant can be used and add a sprinkling every now and again to the blend. It has some cancer fighting properties and is an anti inflammatory as well as a general health herb. The roots are said to contain the most active ingredients but as it is slow growing I just use the upper plant.

Stinging Nettles. Common garden nettles and again a general health herb. I dry the leaves when the plants are young (spring) and add occasionally. They tend to make the drink both darker in color and a little bitter in taste. Once dry there is no worry about stinging you.

Flavorings

There are many herbs that can be used but I tend to stick the following although do use Anise Hyssop and Oregano occasionally.

Lavender Seeds. Dry the seed heads and rub them in your fingers to remove the seeds. A dessert spoon in a brew adds a lovely perfume.

Lemon Verbena. Dry the leaves and store in a jar. I add a few leaves which give it a super lemon taste.

Thyme. Dry and add very small amounts as it is quite strong and pungent.

Quantities

I make my brews in a cafetiere and put in about 10gm to 15gm dry weight with boiling water. You are meant to wait 15 to 20 mins before drinking to infuse well but I start pouring small amounts into my cup after 5 mins to 10 and continue like this. I am sure I do not get the full benefit but I have a much nicer drink and liable to drink it more often. I don’t know if this will add up to the same things medially wise but it’s much nicer.