Heather Tea: the best Green Tea I have ever drank, and its totally free!
A few years ago I was quite into learning about wild foods and gathering them (still am), and while doing some background reading on the internet I came across the statement “Robert Burns drank a tea based on heather tops mixed with dried leaves of bilberry, blackberry, speedwell, thyme and wild strawberry” there’s no reference for this, and I never found anything to support this claim through internet searches, however, I was intrigued.
It would be hard where I am living right now to get all the leaves required for this particular infusion, so I cannot comment on what it would taste like (though I think very good). However, the University of Exeter campus, and especially the area next to the road at the front of the Laver and Harrison buildings is completely covered in the Heather (see the shrubs directly left of the building in this photo), which after a few tries, turns out to have a wonderful slightly sweet and refreshing flavour. They have quite a few varieties growing, so there seems to be heather blooms for the majority of the year, and Heather dries so easily, you just have to leave it in a dry place, and it will do the work for you, then you have a year round supply. There’s also a variety of internet sources claiming Heather has medicinal benefits, presenting it as a sort of folk medicine panacea, its certainly a healthy floral tasting drink, but I won’t make any especial claims.
– Recipe, if you can call it that –
makes two cups
a handful of Heather Tops, dried or fresh, pick ones with fresh flowers and no insects and don’t wash them or you will loose the delicate flavour!
2 1/2 cups of Cold Water
- Simply put the Heather Tops and Cold Water into a pan, put on a medium heat and let it warm until boiling. The liquid should have turned the pale yellowy green colour of the peat water you get from most taps in the Highlands (hope you get what I mean) and smell a little like Honey.
- To dry, gather Heather stalks with fresh pollen filled flowers, tie in bunches and hang for a few weeks, then store in sealed jars.