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Indigenous Cooking: Stinging Nettle Tea Medley

We are the Chia Cafe Collective, a grassroots group of southern California tribal members and collaborators committed to the revitalization of Native foods, medicines, culture, and community. Our work honors the vast traditional knowledge and spiritual relationship to the land, and the nutritive and medicinal bounty the land offers us. Through workshops, classes, demonstrations, and native foods celebrations, we focus on ways to re-incorporate Native food plants into our daily diets to take back responsibility for our health and well-being. We hope our recipes can help you reconnect with the land through gathering, gardening, and cooking Native foods.

We promote an ethic of gathering and cultivating native plants in a manner that is sustainable, and we stress the importance of preserving native plants, plant communities, habitats, and the land for the future generations of all species.

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The Chia Café Collective makes this tasty medley of stinging nettle and other teas for our workshops, classes, and demonstrations.

INGREDIENTS

1 part dried stinging nettle leaves (see below for how to obtain)
1 part dried rose hips with seeds removed
1 part dried mint leaves
honey (optional)

PREPARATION

Combine all dry ingredients in a mason jar. Measure 1 teaspoon of the dried tea mixture for each 8-ounce cup. Pour boiling water over the dried tea and let steep 2-3 minutes (or longer for a stronger tea). Strain out leaves before serving. Sweeten with honey if desired.

Daniel Salgado gathers nettles
Daniel Salgado gathers nettles. Photo: Deborah Small

OBTAINING FRESH STINGING NETTLES

Use new spring growth or tops of young nettle plants. Tastes like spinach when cooked, only more delicious. Quantity greatly reduces when steamed or cooked.

Wild nettles can be found in your yard or vacant lots. Edible nettles are ones which have not been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides and

are also not growing close to the highway (exposed to toxins) When harvesting nettles for food or tea, get the leaves before the plant flowers. New at this? Wear gloves to gather. Cut the tender tops (usually 4-6 leaves or 2-3 leaf sets). It’s best to wear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants when gathering.

Freshly harvested nettles will store in a bag in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator, unwashed, for at least 2-3 days.

DRY STINGING NETTLES

Dried leaves can be used as tea or ground up in a spice grinder and added as a supplement boost to smoothies for a healthy dose of vitamins, minerals and chlorophyll. Stinging nettles are utilized medicinally in the form of hot and cold infused tea and tinctures. When used on a regular basis, check with your doctor about possible interactions with prescription medication. Some online herbal stores offer dried nettle leaves for sale.

This recipe is reprinted with permission from Cooking, Culture, Community: Cooking the Native Way by the Chia Cafe Collective. Banner image by Deborah Small

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Co-produced by KCETLink and the Autry Museum of the American West, the Tending the Wild series is presented in association with the Autry's groundbreaking California Continued exhibition. 

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