Having endured a miserable long and wet winter we’ve finally been treated to a few days of sun and my garden has at last received some much needed attention. Weeds have been pulled, beds have been dug and seeds have been sown. All of which has left me with aches and pains in joints that had forgotten what work was like.
Earlier this week I was sent a review copy of a new book called ‘Practical Herbs 1’ by Finnish herbalist Henriette Kress. While taking a much needed rest I flicked through its pages, admiring the expert knowledge that has gone into it, with loads of information on some of our less obvious (and mostly wild) herbs and what to do with them.
The likes of cleavers, chickweed and rose are all covered with instructions on how to make teas, tinctures, oils, vinegars and more. Being in the mood for a brew I turned to the index to see what I could quickly and easily make from something in my garden and decided upon blackcurrants – fruit season is a long way off but my plants are currently looking splendid with their bright green new leaves and blossom, and I know that those leaves can make a decent tea.
According to the book, blackcurrant leaf tea has many health benefits, but the one I immediately noticed was for joint aches. I immediately hobbled into the garden for a quick picking.
Henriette’s instructions are remarkably simple. 1 to 2 teaspoons of leaves for a cup of boiling water, which is left to steep for 5 minutes. Apart from that there is one small warning: “If you steep the leaves too long, the tannins render the tea almost undrinkable.” I filled my mug, set the timer and at 4 minutes 59 seconds whipped the leaves out, allowed the tea to cool a bit and started drinking.
It’s a very tasty brew. There’s the musty tannin taste of blackcurrant that gives it a good, tea-ish bite and lots of fresh green flavours that make you feel healthy. The book recommends three cups a day for joints. I’ll put the kettle on again later and hope it works – there’s still a lot of gardening to be done.
Practical Herbs 1 & 2 by Henriette Kress are published by AEON Books