Fireweed, or Willowherb (Chamaenerion angustifolium) can be fermented into a soothing black tea in 10 simple steps. It grows between May/June until Sept/October. It flourishes on damp ground, such as wet grasslands, ditches, riversides and woodland clearings.
- Pick the young top leaves of the deep pink flowering plant. aim for 5-10 good handfuls of them.
- Put those into a paper bag into the freezer overnight, which will start the fermentation process.
- Once you take the leaves out of the freezer, take a handful and crush them in your hands – crush and roll the leaves, to the enzymes can break down nicely. This will create a little ball of leaves. Keep rolling those balls until all the leaves are rolled up into little bundles.
- Put those little bundles into a ceramic vessel or a bowl, and cover it with a damn piece of cloth. Sit them in a warm spot on the window sill , where fermentation will take place over the next 24hours.
- After 24hrs the initially grassy scent should have turned into a sweet scent. This is the sign that fermentation was successful.
- At this point, unravel your little bundles on to an oven tray and put them into the oven for 1 hour at 80 degrees. The drying out process will darken the dark green into brown and even black.
- Once it has all dried out properly, crush the tea into smaller pieces, and store in a jar with a tight lid.
- Your tea is ready for brewing – you can steep the tea a few times without it losing its benefits or taste!
Benefits of this so-called Ivan tea are:
It balances the digestive health,
It promotes relaxation,
It builds immunity,
It improves mood, and
it strengthens circulation.
Interesting fact: The seeds of the plant in autumn are the best fire starter for a bonfire – come and learn how to light it with just a fire flint at WanderWomen experiences. Book now at Wander-women.co.uk/events